Summer is the perfect time to get outside and have some fun.
However, an older adult’s idea of a “good time” is different than what people in younger age groups typically like to do for recreation and entertainment, especially when those activities take place outdoors.
Older adults and seniors are more prone to heat-related illnesses. They often tire more easily and are more likely to be hurt in a fall. It’s important for caregivers to keep those factors in mind when planning a summertime outing with senior loved ones.
Here are some tips for summer activities that are safe and fun for seniors – and also some precautions to make sure their day outside is a positive experience.
9 Fun Outdoor Activities for Seniors
Plan a picnic. Enjoy fresh air and take in all that nature offers with a picnic. This summer activity is a great way for seniors to spend an afternoon with family and friends. Just remember to pick an area with comfortable seating and shade. If your loved one’s mobility is limited, consider bringing the picnic to her or him – a patio, deck or courtyard are great alternative picnic spots.
Visit a flea market or Farmer’s Market. Flea markets are very popular in the summer and great places for older adults who love to shop. Perhaps they’ll find a bargain, or maybe they’ll just have a good time strolling down “memory lane” while browsing through the antiques. A trip to the Farmer’s Market may not only be a good opportunity for seniors to enjoy the outdoors, but also a chance to purchase healthy foods to prepare for dinner.
Play outdoor games. Low-impact sports, such as horseshoes, miniature golf, bocce ball, bean bags, badminton and croquet are great outdoor activities for seniors who are able to play to enjoy. Participants can play at their own pace, and these activities are good exercising for a senior’s body – and their mind.
Fishing. Another great activity that allows seniors to set their own pace. Fishing is something seniors can do with a friend or family member, which not only provides good company but a companion to make sure water safety is practiced.
Gardening. Gardening is an activity in which seniors can participate every day if they want, by donating their time to a local park or maintaining a small plot in their yard. Seniors can join a gardening club to socialize, get some exercise and learn about how to grow flowers or other decorative plants.
Bird watching and photography are two outdoor activities for seniors to stimulate the mind as well as the body.
Go to a baseball game. Baseball is a sport that typically connects the generations, as fathers and mothers pass their love of the game on to their children. The pace of a baseball game lends itself to conversation, and it’s fun to reminisce about games of the past.
Senior Summertime Safety
Regardless of the activity you choose, it’s important to make sure your senior stays safe in the sun and the warmer weather.
Drink plenty of liquids. The most important thing seniors can do to maintain their health in the summer is to stay hydrated and consume plenty of liquids – especially water. Stay away from too much caffeine or alcohol, especially while participating in an outdoor activity.
Pay attention to the thermometer. If temperatures are extreme, stay indoors, at least during the hottest part of the day. Often, the weather is much cooler during the morning or evening hours, so plan your activities for the times when it’s safest and most comfortable outside.
Dress appropriately. Wear light and loose-fitting clothes. Light colors reflect heat while darker ones absorb it, and therefore make you feel hotter. Don’t forget a hat to keep the sun off your senior loved one’s head.
Apply insect repellent and sun screen. Don’t pay for a fun day outside with a bunch of uncomfortable, itchy bug bites or a bad sunburn. Take a few minutes to apply insect repellent or a strong sun screen of 50 SPF to better to protect your senior’s skin.
Be vigilant for signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Flushed face, headache, nausea, rapid pulse, dizziness and confusion are all signs that you’ve had too much exposure to the warm weather. If you have any of these symptoms, get indoors to cool down and seek help immediately.
Practice social distancing. As restrictions loosen from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure you’re maintaining your distance. Do your best to avoid crowded areas and be sure to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. If headed to a public place, bring a small bottle of sanitizer with you to help keep your hands disinfected.
For other tips and ideas to enjoy yourself during these times, check out the Health & Wellness section of our blog.