Summer can be a lot of fun. It’s a season that many people like to spend outdoors. Some reconnect with nature by going on hikes while others enjoy lounging at the beach or pool. Chances are that your elderly parent or parents once did these things and would love to do them again.
As we age, it may become difficult or impossible to do the things we did in our youth. Mobility may be limited, and health risks increase. You likely wouldn’t want your elderly loved one to wander the woods alone or make their way to the beach unattended. That doesn’t mean they have to give up the things they love about summer. Instead, there are ways that you can help them enjoy safe, summer fun this year.
Whether it’s a modified version of an activity or something completely new, try these summer-inspired season activities while enjoying quality time with mom or dad.
Taste the Foods of Summer Together
Human beings have built strong associations between food and our personal experiences. Use this to create a warm-weather feast for you and your loved ones. Since it’s summer, a spread featuring things like refreshing beverages, berries, barbecue, and lighter fare is a good way to go.
Get your elderly parent involved in choosing the menu. Depending on their ability, your loved one could also assist in the preparation of dishes for the meal.
You can do this alone or get other family members involved. If your parents live in a retirement community, then they may want to invite their neighbors to make new friends and socialize.
Work on Summer Crafts as a Group
Crafts are a great form of entertainment that helps build dexterity. That’s why many assisted living facilities offer activities like this. You can plan a crafting session with your elderly loved one this season.
Since it is summer, look for things with matching themes or bright colors. For example, some stores sell kits that let you paint your own suncatchers. These are wonderful because it’s an easy project that’s low-cost and includes a finished product that could brighten mom or dad’s room or apartment.
Other fun summer craft ideas for seniors include things like pressed flowers, building windchimes, painting birdhouses, or making accessories out of clay, and more.
Craft projects can be done indoors or outdoors. Use them as a rainy day activity or go outside on a nice day and make things while getting some fresh air and sunshine.
Do Some Low-Impact Exercises
Fitness is important at any age, but especially as we get older. If your parent is able, consider signing up for a low-impact workout class. This can include things like Yoga, Pilates, water aerobics, or just taking a short walk.
Whether or not this is a good option will depend on your loved one’s health status and mobility. Make sure you know what they can and cannot do. Speak to a staff member at their assisted living community if you have questions about whether an activity is safe.
Seniors should be mindful of their joints and any health conditions they have when working out. They should avoid exercises like deadlifts, abdominal crunches, leg and bench presses, rock climbing, long-distance running, and squatting with weights.
Plan a Day Trip for the Family
Summer is a great time to plan a day trip for the whole family! This can be a fun choice if your parent doesn’t have any serious or urgent medical concerns and can safely leave their facility for the day.
When going, make sure you have at least one other adult with you to assist. You will need to plan accordingly based on your loved one’s needs. For example, if they can’t walk or cannot walk very far, make sure you have a wheelchair ready. Pack all medications and medical supplies that might be needed. Make sure you will have access to food and water while you are out.
Research your destination before you go so you know what to expect and what accommodations are available. While spending a little while outdoors is ok, you shouldn’t expect your parent to spend the entire day under the sun. They will need breaks to cool off and rest.
Keeping a card with their medical, prescription, and doctor information on it is a good safety measure. Also, make sure your mobile phone is fully charged in case you need to call for assistance. Bring sunblock with you as well as anything else they may need if you plan to be outdoors, like sunglasses, a sun hat, or a personal fan.
Relax with a Good Book
Many people love to read. It is a safe, relaxing activity that you can do just about anywhere. If your parent enjoys a good book, turn it into a summer activity. You can find a comfortable shaded spot to sit outdoors and read together.
If you want to make things more interesting, read the same book so you can discuss the story after each chapter. This can be more than a 2 or 3-person activity. If you or your parent knows other bookworms, get them involved and turn it into a summer book club.
Plan a Picnic During Cooler Times
When most people think of summertime, they usually think of picnics. This is a great activity because it can be as simple or elaborate as you like. You can sit on a blanket or use a picnic table. If your parent’s community has patio seating, then this is a great spot that doesn’t require any travel.
If you plan to go on an outdoor picnic, try to do so during cooler times of the day so that mom or dad can avoid the dangerous summer heat. If you plan to be under direct sunlight, bring a canopy, sunshade, or large umbrella. Even if you have drinks on hand, make sure you bring cool water.
You should know the signs of heatstroke before going outdoors with an elderly loved one. If they look flushed with dry skin, have a rapid or weak pulse, feel hot or dizzy, or show changes in behavior, get them indoors and seek medical assistance right away.
Find a Quiet Spot to Go Fishing
If you have a body of water nearby, then you can take mom or dad fishing. Find a quiet spot where you can set up and sit with your poles. It’s a beloved pastime that also gives you the opportunity to catch up and reminisce.
Fishing can relieve stress. Repetitive activities like casting and reeling are also known to help slow the cognitive decline that is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Spectate at a Sporting Event
Is your parent a sports fan? Take them to a sporting event! Many stadiums have accommodations for disabled and older people. Find out what’s available before you go.
Some places offer senior discounts on tickets. When choosing your seats, look for a spot that has shade and isn’t too far from a bathroom facility. You can also ask if handicapped seating is available if needed. These seats are usually grouped in threes and are located in areas that don’t require going up or down steps for safer navigation.
Fly a Kite on a Nice Day
Bring a kite and go fly it! This will require a little wind, so pay attention to the weather forecast so you can pick the perfect day.
Mom or dad may not be able to run around with the kite, but you can get it started for them. If it’s a bit windy, then they may not need to move around to get it into the air. If not, then give their kite a boost then let them take over and have fun watching it flip, glide, and soar!
Check for Community Events
Summertime is usually packed with local events. These often include farmer’s markets, outdoor performances, festivals, and community days. See what’s happening in your area to look for an event that your elderly loved one might enjoy.
These can be beneficial because they let your loved one get a change of scenery while meeting new people and enjoying a sense of community.
Assisted living facilities often host their own events on-site so your loved one doesn’t have to go anywhere to have a good time. Visit Woodhaven Retirement Community to learn more about luxury senior living.