Keeping active and involved

5. Activities out in the community

There are many opportunities out in the community where you can find different activities and meet other people at the same time. This could be at a place of worship, an art gallery, museum, concert hall or theatre, a community group, leisure centre or at the local pub.

There are national drives towards making many of these places dementia-friendly, which means their staff and volunteers will be more understanding and have some knowledge about living with dementia.

Arts and culture

Many heritage sites and arts or cultural venues are becoming more dementia-friendly. This means that the venue should be more welcoming to people with dementia, ultimately making your visit more enjoyable. Being ‘dementia friendly’ could be something simple, like having clearer signs in the venue. Alternatively, staff and volunteers might have had dementia awareness training and so understand a little better what it’s like to live with dementia.

Some community venues organise events or activities which have been developed for and with people living with dementia. Events range from more relaxed theatre performances or film screenings to special access and exhibitions or tours.

A lot of places also now run creative activities which bring people with dementia together. The more popular groups often involve singing, making music or painting. Other activities include drama, dance, reading, writing or poetry.

In all these cases, the details of the event or activity are probably not the main point. What matters is finding something which has meaning for you and that you enjoy. Not everyone will want to get involved in a group activity. But for those who do, a group setting can create a sense of togetherness and belonging, helping you keep active and involved.

You might find ideas for activities through some of the organisations listed in ‘Other useful organisations’ at the back of this booklet. To find out what is happening in your area, ask at your local Alzheimer’s Society, library or community centre. Your local Alzheimer’s Society will also run, or know about, day centres where you might be able to go for a mix of social and club activities.

Exercise

Taking any form of exercise is good for your physical as well as emotional wellbeing. You may find it easier, safer, or more fun to take part in physical activities with other people rather than alone. This could be through walking, swimming, dancing or gentle exercise classes (eg tai chi or yoga).

Ask at your local leisure centre about sessions or classes that might be suitable for you. Many centres organise specific sessions for older people or those with dementia.

Other forms of exercise, such as gardening, chair aerobics or gentle stretching, can also be done in and around the home. For more information see Alzheimer’s Society factsheet 529, Exercise and physical activity.

If you’ve not exercised much before and are thinking of starting, it’s a good idea to talk to your GP or community nurse first. They can suggest ways for you to build up gradually and safely.

Travel

Travelling and going on holiday can bring a great sense of enjoyment. Living with dementia, you may find it easier to go to familiar places. When considering where to go, think carefully about the practicalities. Long-distance travel can be particularly tiring. As with many things, travelling is easier if you have someone with you. However, it’s not impossible if you do want to travel alone. Make sure you take the time to prepare thoroughly, make lists of things to pack, and write down details of your travel arrangements and any documents you need. For more information about travelling, see Alzheimer’s Society factsheet 474, Travelling and going on holiday.

Feeling well

Try to enjoy being in the moment and don’t worry about what might lie in store. Whatever activity you choose, the most important thing is that it means something to you and helps you to feel good.