Langham Court terrace garden

Summer holiday inspiration for families living with Dementia

Posted on by Nicky Macfarlane

The school summer holidays can be a time of fun and extended family get togethers, but for families where a parent is living well with dementia but need extra care and support, it can also bring added challenges.

Balancing the needs of children and a grandparent with Dementia can be difficult, especially when planning activities that everyone can enjoy together.


Plan ahead for an active family summer

Planning summer holiday activities that both children and adults living with dementia can enjoy together requires thoughtful preparation to ensure a safe, fun, enjoyable, and a memorable experience for everyone.

Here are some questions to consider which will help find the right balance:

  • What are the needs and limitations of the family member with Dementia? – planning activities which are suitable for a mix of generations can be tricky.  Choosing activities which can be done together and are appropriate for the cognitive and physical abilities of a family member living with dementia, will help avoid causing them undue stress or confusion.
  • What simple summer activities are good for someone with Dementia? – Opting for activities that are easy to understand and familiar can help to reduce anxiety and increase enjoyment for the whole family group. For example, activities that encourage interaction and participation from children, such as puzzles, or crafting can foster a sense of togetherness between grandparents and their grandchildren.
  • What are the best places to take someone with Dementia this summer – overly crowded or noisy places, can be overwhelming for someone with dementia but great fun for younger children, so whilst it maybe tempting to go to an indoor soft play park, opt for an outdoor park play area where there is quite space in the shade to sit in view of the play area.
  • How to prepare for the unexpected on a family outing – create a checklist in the notes on your phone, which you can add too and of course remember any necessary medication which is needed during the day. On a hot summers day pack sufficient snacks and drinks to keep everyone hydrated as well as light snacks to boost energy levels.
  • Why is it good to have a flexible plan – As people with dementia often find comfort in familiar schedules and routine, it is good to plan activities during their best times of the day. But be prepared to adjust plans as needed and be ready if an activity becomes too overwhelming to have alternative options ready.
  • What is the best way to communicate a planned outing to someone living with Dementia? – Explain the plans clearly and calmly to the person with dementia, using simple language. Provide reassurance about the day’s activities and think about giving them a written outline of the day to refer to.
  • What are the packing essentials – For many people living with dementia leaving their familiar surroundings can create anxiety, so bring along items that provide comfort and familiarity, such as a favourite blanket, cushion, toy, or personal memento. Accidents can happen, so a change of clothes can be a good idea if you are travelling any distance. Small, portable items like books, puzzles, or sensory toys can provide a calming distraction if needed.

By thoroughly preparing and considering the collective needs of both children and an adult living with dementia, can create a harmonious and enjoyable summer holiday experience that everyone will cherish.

7 top summer activities during the school holidays.

Here are some ideas for summer holiday activities that are suitable for children aged 5 to 15 and an older grandparent living with dementia.

  • Picnics in the Park – Local parks are a great place to get together as a family, not too far from home where everyone can enjoy a picnic together. Choose a nearby park with shaded areas, toilets on hand and easy walking paths. Packing a picnic avoids needing to worry about finding everyone’s favourite foods and any dietary requirements.  The fresh air, gentle exercise, and a relaxed atmosphere can be enjoyable for everyone.

Picnic in the park

  • Gardening Together – Spending time in the garden planting flowers or vegetables, with everyone assigned simple tasks suitable for each age and ability, such as deadheading a raised bed, planting up or watering pots. Gardening is a well-known therapeutic activity that can stimulate the senses and provide a sense of accomplishment, as well as bringing back memories of past hobbies.

Langham Court terrace garden

  • Crafting Sessions– When the weather isn’t looking good, organising a crafting afternoon with activities like painting, making collages, or decorating flowerpots, can be a relaxing and creative way for everyone to express themselves and spend quality time together.


  • Visits to Museums or Animal Experiences – in recent years, many local attractions are now much more dementia-friendly offering quiet areas and accessible facilities. Having grandparents and children interacting with exhibits at a museum or animals at an open farm, can spark conversation and provide mental stimulation.

H&L Ponies

  • Movie Marathons – when it’s wet outside who doesn’t love a sofa movie day with snacks, creating a cosy atmosphere with blankets and popcorn. Choose old favourite films to spark memories as watching familiar films can be comforting and entertaining for all ages.
  • An evening of Board Games and Puzzles– Select games that are easy to understand and can be enjoyed by both children and older adults to enhance cognitive skills and provide a fun bonding experience.
  • Storytelling and Reading – shared time reading favourite books or sharing family stories, encourages children to read to their grandparent and improve communication, learning as well as creating an emotional connection.

Professional Elderly Care - Huntington and Langham resident with children

Dementia-Friendly Holidays further afield

For those able to travel further afield, planning an overseas holiday that accommodates a parent living with dementia can seem daunting.  For many families this is no longer an option, which is where a respite stay in a Dementia friendly home like Langham Court can be a fantastic option.

There are holiday companies that specialise in dementia-friendly trips, ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable experience for the whole family. Here are 3 well known options:

Holiday Companies Offering Dementia-Friendly Holidays

  1. Dementia Adventureprovide small group holidays for people living with Dementia and those who care for them.
  2. Saga Holidays – are a well known holiday company tailored for the over 60’s and offer a high level of service for those needing accessibility support.
  3. Able Community Careoffer a service that provides holiday carers to accompany people on holiday for personal assistance or simply companionship.

With the progression of each individuals Dementia journey, there will come a time when joining in family holidays or outings is no longer an option and it is at this point a Respite stay in a residential care home can offer a good solution to enable families to take a break.

We are always on hand to offer support and advice to families considering their holiday options.  Read the firsthand account of the husband of a respite resident of Langham Court, who did just that here.