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Five Things to do With Your Elderly Parents in Dorchester, Dorset

Dorchester is a county town in the beautiful county of Dorset and the perfect base for a holiday in the region, or for fun and entertaining days out. Close to the town of Dorchester you will find the renowned Jurassic Coast, which boasts miles of coastal and beach walks for the more active, along with access to picturesque towns and villages such as Lyme Regis and Weymouth.

Now that the live-in care at home model has become a viable alternative to residential care homes, there are more opportunities than ever to spend quality time with your elderly parents. Live-in carers can facilitate days out and holidays, or you could give the caregiver the day off and enjoy some private time with your loved ones on a short break, performing any necessary elderly care tasks yourself.

More and more attractions are now aware of the need to create accessible venues, with many offering wheelchair or motorised scooter hire for a small charge. If one or both of your parents requires elderly care, there are often schemes in place which offer free admission for companion care assistants. Even if your parents need dementia care, you will find stimulating places to visit, which may jog lost memories and will provide entertainment for all members of the family.

Dorchester and the surrounding areas are packed with great ways to spend the day; here’s our pick of five of the best.

The Keep Military Museum

Located in a castle-like building at the top of Dorchester’s main High Street, The Keep was built in 1879 as the gatehouse for the town’s main barracks and designed to resemble a Norman fortress. Now a regimental armoury and museum, The Keep is a popular tourist destination and a must-see for anyone with interest in the army.

Exhibits and artefacts are displayed over four floors, all accessible by lifts and suitable for wheelchair users, although the museum does not offer a wheelchair hire facility. Disabled toilets are on the ground floor. There is also a roof terrace which offers spectacular views across the town, but this is not accessible to anyone with mobility problems.

There is no café or restaurant at The Keep, but its location means that the many cafes, bars and restaurants of Dorchester are within easy walking distance.

Dorset County Museum

Situated halfway along Dorchester’s main High Street, the Dorset County Museum may not seem particularly significant from the outside, but once inside, you’ll find yourself surrounded by objects and artefacts dating back to prehistoric times, including an excellent display of Victoriana and a wealth of objects celebrating Dorset’s rich literary tradition.

See the desk where Thomas Hardy wrote his novels, walk across a mosaic floor dating back to Roman times and admire the vaulted gallery from the Victorian era.

The museum is wheelchair accessible, with a lift to the upper floor and ramp access to the gift shop and tea rooms. Staff are on hand to offer assistance if it is needed, and there is a disabled toilet.

The Tank Museum

Situated outside Dorchester on the route to nearby Wareham, the Tank Museum will be a great day out if either of your elderly parents has an interest in military vehicles or the Second World War. There is so much to look at that you need to set aside a whole day, but the ticket offers you the chance to return free of charge within the year, so you could always arrange to go again.

Discover what it was like to be in the trenches during the First World War, learn how horsepower was overtaken by tank power and explore the history of the tank from its conception up to the present day. The museum is accessible for anyone with mobility issues, and wheelchairs are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Mikis’ care story

In this short video, Nick and Maro explain their reasons for choosing Elder live-in care.

They discuss how live-in care has allowed Nick’s father Mikis to stay independent in his own home while making a new friend at the same time.

Athelhampton House and Gardens

Just five miles east of Dorchester, you’ll find the pretty 15th-century manor house of Athelhampton, along with its glorious gardens. Thomas Hardy was a regular visitor here, as his stonemason father was employed to undertake work on the building. An impressive Tudor hall is surrounded by a spectacular gardens complete with topiary yews.

The house is open to the public every day except Friday and Saturday between March and October, and on Sundays only during the winter months between November and February, although it may be possible to view outside these times by appointment. Much of the house is accessible for those with mobility issues, and there is plenty of seating to stop and rest for a while. Explore the house and grounds and then relax in the Coach House restaurant, which serves light snacks, teas and lunches, including a Sunday carvery between noon and 3pm.

Sculpture by the Lakes

Devised and created by the owners, Simon and Monique Gudgeon, this landscaped garden is located at Pallington, just outside Dorchester, and hosts an ever-changing selection of sculptures and artworks. Most of the pieces are available to purchase, so the displays change all the time. There is also an indoor gallery offering works of art for sale.

An on-site tea room provides drinks, snacks and light picnic lunches, or you can bring your own picnic to enjoy. For special occasions, it’s worth hiring one of the covered venues, but bear in mind that, due to the presence of deep water, children under 14 are not permitted into the grounds.

Most of the landscaped grounds are accessible for users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters, but the owners advise allowing extra time for your visit if you have mobility problems.

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