Enjoying the warm summer can still be a reality for elders and caregivers. Finding interesting activities suitable for a senior’s abilities may take some creativity, but it is well worth switching up the routine to get out and about.
The Benefits of Getting Outside
A main advantage of heading outdoors, even for a short period of time, is being able to soak up some sunlight. Sun exposure generates vitamin D, which is necessary for a healthy brain, bones and muscles. Getting out also enables elders to socialize and be stimulated by new experiences and environments.
Ideas for Outdoor Activities
When selecting activities to do with your loved one, focus on hobbies and interests that they used to enjoy. What is something they always wanted to try? Don’t be afraid to ask what they miss doing or what they’d like to revisit. Have a couple of suggestions prepared to choose from and enjoy the day.
Catch a sporting event. Attending a grandchild’s soccer game or a professional baseball game can be an action-packed way for your loved one to reconnect with a favorite pastime.
Fish for fun. You can cast a rod from a dock, pier, or other location, even if someone has mobility challenges or uses a wheelchair. Check your state’s tourism websites to see if they provide listings of accessible fishing locations.
Be a tourist. If you live in a city, take an open-air bus or trolley tour to see the local sights. Another option could be a boat tour, depending on what type of equipment an elder needs to take with them. A Sunday drive around town can also allow a senior to check out happenings in the community that interest them. This could be a farmers market, rummage sale, community event or even just blooming flowers.
Take a dip. If a senior is willing and able, spending time in a pool is an excellent way to incorporate physical activity that still seems relaxing.
Stroll around. If a walk is possible, start slow and work up to longer outings. Either keep the first few walks short, or bring along a walker or wheelchair in case your loved one gets tired and needs to rest.
Be an animal lover. This could be as simple as sitting outside and enjoying the sights and sounds, or could mean an outing to the zoo or dog park.
Picnic outdoors. Picnics are a flexible activity that you can plan at a park or in the backyard. Seniors can watch children run around and enjoy the buzz of others. Locate a comfortable area with plenty of shade in advance, or bring your own.
Go out for a treat. Make an outing out of it “just because.” This could consist of a coffee and pastry from a favorite breakfast spot, or a lunch special from the local diner. If the weather is nice, enjoy your goodies at a patio table.
Older bodies don’t adjust to changes in temperature or perceive thirst as well. With each activity, be sure to watch your loved one for signs of fatigue, thirst, sunburn, and overheating. You can promise to return at another time.
—By Caren Parnes
Contributor for The Senior’s Choice