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Take advantage of our short summer

It’s not a coincidence that requests for my social work services decrease in the summer months and increase dramatically come fall. As we all know, life in Montreal includes remarkable seasonal changes.

We naturally spend more time outdoors when the weather is warm. Leaving home requires less preparation, and walking outside doesn’t mean struggling with snow, ice and the fear of falling. Walking not only provides a source of exercise but is therapeutic since it is known to decrease agitation. The caregiver is well advised to take advantage of our short summers while they last, but it’s best to avoid large crowds and noisy events. I would think twice, for instance, about attending a fireworks exhibition. Consider activities that your loved one enjoyed in the past — picnics, park outings, drives to the countryside, small outdoor musical concerts, short cruises and even visits to a driving range for those who played golf.

Attention to particular behaviours of the individual should be addressed. For example, sit where the possibility of an early departure would be the least disruptive. Don’t forget sunscreen, a sunhat and water. Avoid especially hot temperatures that could cause discomfort and dehydration.

Don’t be surprised if your loved one insists on wearing a sweater even in high temperatures. Some AD individuals dislike air conditioning and overdress to stay warm. It can be difficult for the caregiver who feels the need for air conditioning yet must keep it off to please their loved one.

Sundowning is a behavior of many affected by AD. It occurs in the late afternoon or early evening hours as the sun sets and darkness appears. Agitation and anxiety increase, making these few hours especially trying. Some professionals have compared Sundowning to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), when depression occurs due to fewer daylight hours. Keeping the home bright during this time can help.

The words of the song by Gershwin are summertime and the living is easy… I don’t promise easy, but I do think life, for both the caregiver and the AD individual, is easier with summer weather.

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