After being stuck indoors for months, enduring frigid temperatures and the same four walls, it’s finally summer! That means it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy the sun, warmth, and activities that are made for this time of year. And doing all these things is just as important to the older adult in your life as it is to you. It may take some extra precautions and planning, but all of it is very worthwhile. Read on for some of our favorite summer activities for seniors.
Fun in the sun
Take a walk. Walking around outside can be a great experience for older adults, provided they do so according to their level of stamina and ability. If independent mobility is an issue, make sure they have someone to accompany them.
Picnic, anyone? Picnics are a classic summer tradition. Enjoy good food and drink while people-watching at the park or beach.
Take a dip. Enjoying the water during summertime can be as simple as putting your feet up in a kiddie pool. If an older adult wants something more robust, they can swim laps or even stretch or aerobicize in the pool.
Go fish! Fishing is a great summertime activity for older adults. It’s ideal for those with extremely limited mobility, because ambulating is not required.
Feed Tweety. A bird house, bird feeder, or bird bath are terrific additions to any backyard. For older adults, it means enjoying watching wildlife every day, as birds and other animals are more active in the summer.
Take me out to the ball game. If an older adult is a sports fan, now’s the perfect time to attend that ballgame, or even watch the grandkids play soccer.
Take a holiday. If a full-blown vacation isn’t in the works for your loved one, there are still plenty of holidays to celebrate right at home. From the Fourth of July fireworks until Labor Day barbecues, your community is probably full of events such as concerts and outdoor movies that are sure to satisfy.
Take it outside. Do things you’d normally do indoors, but do them outdoors! This can include watching videos (using a laptop), eating on a deck or screened-in porch, playing cards, or just socializing. See if other activities your loved one enjoys can be brought outside as well.
Plan for an older adult’s summertime needs
Older adults have different needs during the summer than other age groups. For example, they are at increased risk of dehydration and sunburn. If you’ll be enjoying outdoor activities with an older adult this year, be sure to take the following precautions:
- Plan outside activities during cooler hours (between ten and four are generally the warmest).
- Have your loved one drink plenty of fluids (or as much as is recommended by their doctor). Non-alcoholic and caffeine-free beverages are the most hydrating.
- Replace any lost electrolytes and potassium. Electrolytes can be found in sports drinks, and many fruits and vegetables contain potassium.
- Be aware of signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
- Apply (and re-apply) sunscreen as needed.
- Wear insect repellent, if necessary.
Also, certain medications don’t mix well with the sun, so talk to your loved one’s physician to see if prolonged outdoors activities are safe. They may want you to take extra precautions, such as making sure the older adult has plenty of shade, or wears a floppy hat.
Summer activities for seniors have multiple benefits
Summertime activities for seniors have more advantages than just blowing your loved one out of a winter funk. Increased sunlight lets them absorb more vitamin D, which is essential for brain, bone, muscle, and possibly cognitive function. In addition, the increased socialization that often occurs is sure to be mentally uplifting as well. With benefits like these, there’s no reason not to take advantage of everything summer has to offer!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.