The Alzheimer’s Society have urged people to get outdoors and stay active even after the clocks change, and resist the temptation to hibernate inside.

You know that once the clocks have changed, it really is winter, and it can be very tempting to hole yourself up at home for most of the day. This is particularly the case of elderly people with dementia, who may feel the cold more, fear slipping over outside, or worry about getting outside during the shorter daylight hours.

But experts from the Alzheimer’s Society say remaining active and soaking up what natural daylight they can will help to boost health and their sense of wellbeing and support the body’s natural rhythms.

People with dementia often have trouble getting to sleep as the condition can disturb the body’s circadian rhythms, which control sleep patterns. They may find they wake more frequently during the night, creating confusion and agitation.

However, doing activities outdoors which will allow them to soak up natural daylight (even if it isn’t sunny) will keep them more in tune with the natural day and night patterns. What’s more, if the activities they do outside raise the heart rate a bit – a walk or some gardening for example – they will also increase mood and strengthen muscles, which can aid mobility and reduce the risk of falls.

‘Indoor home comforts are very alluring when winter arrives but we’d urge people with dementia and their carers to get out and about in daylight, even if it’s just to potter around in the back garden,’ says Kathryn Smith, Director of Operations at the Alzheimer’s Society.

‘It’s not only good for the person with dementia because they are likely to feel better and sleep better but it’s good for the carer because a good night’s rest is the best way of re-charging batteries and reducing stress.’

The Alzheimer’s Society have drawn up a list of their top five recommendations for open-air pastimes, which include;

- Gardening – collecting leaves or weeding are good activities and raised beds are ideal for people with mobility problems.
- Feeding birds and other animals – think ducks at the park, or even a local petting zoo.
- Walking and talking – it helps to reduce social isolation.
- Spending time with pets – they help to lift the spirit.
- A visit to a park or garden centre – being surrounded by green is great for boosting mood.

For more tips on getting outdoors with your loved one with dementia, click here.