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Summer Fun for Seniors
The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful, and communities are planning social activities again as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s the perfect time to get your senior loved ones out for some fresh air and fun—and it’s good for them, too! A daily dose of vitamin D from the sun boosts brain, bone, and muscle health, while social time outside improves mood and mental functioning.
Ideally, aim for a mix of indoor and outdoor recreation so you have options when the heat index is high or a summer storm breaks out. And if you have children, look for opportunities that are fun for young and old alike. Time with grandkids makes great memories for the young ones and keeps your seniors young at heart.
Easy Ideas for Senior Summer Outings
- Hit the pool! Time in the water is great for staying cool, seniors can move as much or as little as they like, and water is gentle on the joints.
- Check out the library—it’s cool on a hot day. Besides the chance to find new books, magazines, or other media, many libraries offer community events like readings, workshops, and movie screenings for free.
- Visit the dog park. If your senior is an animal lover or pet owner, take them out with you and your dog to a fenced-in dog park. Even if you don’t have a dog, it’s fun to watch others’ dogs play—and their owners might be happy to make introductions!
- Have a picnic in the park. Many public parks have shady shelters with tables so you don’t have to sit on the ground. While you’re there, enjoy the trails, gardens, or other features that your park has to offer.
- Enjoy some music. Summer means outdoor concerts for many venues, often including free concerts by community organizations. Many of these are in the evenings around sunset, when the temperature goes down.
- Take a class together. With school out, many rec centers offer a full roster of fun classes and activity days that are great for all ages—and offer an air-conditioned and sheltered social option when the weather is unforgiving.
- Be a foodie. If you and your elderly loved one are adventurous eaters, look for a new-to-you cuisine to try for lunch or dinner, or find a long leisurely brunch on the weekend. Many restaurants have increased their outdoor seating, and summer is a great time to check out food trucks or food festivals that often occur outside.
- Browse the farmer’s market. While some markets are year-round, others only open in spring and summer—and some feel as much like a block party as a place to shop. Pick out fresh produce, admire the work of local artists and artisans, or grab a bench to people-watch.
- Schedule some playtime. Depending how active your senior loved one is, and what they enjoy doing, you could do anything from mini-golf to tennis to simply playing cards or board games on the porch. Games are a great way to keep cognitive function sharp—an added bonus.
- Enjoy a carnival, fair, or festival. There are many to enjoy in the Washington, D.C. area. Make a day out of eating treats, playing midway games, watching shows or fireworks, and even riding some of the rides. You’ll all feel like kids again!
Staying Safe Matters
Make sure you plan carefully to keep your elderly loved one safe during summer activities. Know the signs of heatstroke in seniors and how to avoid it, and make sure you’re protecting delicate senior skin in the hot weather and sunshine. Remember that certain medications can make seniors more vulnerable to overheating, and plan plenty of chances to find shade, cool drinks, or air conditioning when they need to rest. Bring plenty of sunscreen and water whenever you go out, and make sure that your outing is at a good level of activity for your loved one’s physical ability.
Prepare for all possibilities when you go out by making sure you bring any medications your senior might need along the way and mosquito or tick repellant if you’re going to be out in nature, and knowing what to do in the event of a bee sting. Keep a small first aid kit handy, just in case.
Continue to observe current CDC protocols for COVID safety, including getting vaccinated if you can, wearing masks around other people, and social distancing. Seniors are still one of the most vulnerable populations for coronavirus. With new variants emerging, it’s worth refreshing yourself on guidelines for COVID-safe interactions with elderly loved ones.
As long as you’re taking precautions and setting a leisurely pace for the day, you can enjoy the delights of summer and the company of your senior loved ones, knowing that you’re all benefiting from your fun time together. And who knows, it might be a chance for all of you to discover the hidden treasures of your community or to try something new and wonderful together.