When getting together with senior loved ones, it can be difficult to brainstorm appropriate activities the whole family can enjoy. We’ve pulled together a list of things to do indoors and outside to engage with your older relations, or to inspire you to dream up some other forms of summer fun.
Indoor Summer Activities for Seniors
- Make a scrapbook. Capture and safeguard photos and mementos with a family scrapbooking project. Any crafting activity is fun, but scrapbooking taps into creativity and happy memories. If your elder has arthritis or trouble gripping, get the kids involved in cutting and pasting or investigate digital scrapbooking options. Read more about the benefits of scrapbooking.
- Take a class. It’s always the right season to engage our brains with a little learning, like a hand lettering class, a genealogy workshop or a deep dive into the antiquities. Educational experiences “are popular with Baby Boomers and beyond because they want to continue to learn new things, experience new places, and share that experience with other open-minded, engaged people,” says James Moses, president and CEO, Road Scholar, Inc., which links learning and travel. “The unique understanding and learning that happens through educational travel where participants are immersed in local history, culture, food, and traditions can be truly transformational.”
- Do good works. Serving others and making a difference are powerful positive feelings that buoy our spirits and benefit our community. Identify causes that matter to your family and seek out opportunities to contribute. For instance, create personal care kits for a homeless ministry or sign up to help socialize dogs and cats at the shelter. See more benefits of volunteering.
- Visit a museum or cultural institution. What’s better in hot weather than air conditioning and beautiful art and artifacts? Go through the facility on your own, sign up for a guided tour, or rent a headset/download the app to hit the highlights. This simple activity has several upsides, notes Alexandra Germano, a physical therapist with FOX Rehabilitation in Arlington, VA. “Walking in crowded places or even walking and talking with a friend can really challenge the brain just as much as the body. This type of ‘dual tasking’ is important to continue to practice as you age.”
Summer Senior Travel Tips
Day trips, long weekends and full-on vacations are popular summer activities. Lots of families rely on travel agents to take care of older relations’ special needs.
“Our agency has the inside connection to the special services departments with airlines and other transit options for wheelchair services, service animals and even unblocking a seat that will be comfortable for your elder’s condition,” says Arik Andersen, president & CEO of the Americas for Executive Travel Center/Only Travel Group. Agents can also secure senior-friendly accommodations and excursions.
Outdoor Activities for Senior Citizens
- Work in the yard. CDC data reveal that just 2.5 hours of active gardening each week helps maintain a healthy weight and avoid osteoporosis, colon cancer, high blood pressure and other cardiac issues, type-2 diabetes and even premature death. It’s also an effective way to stave off depression and feel more grounded. “Humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with other forms of life,” says Sally Haskett, horticultural therapy program manager at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. Gardening is a great way to connect to the earth while connecting with family. Understand additional benefits of gardening.
- Plan a picnic. Summer produces a bounty of garden-fresh vegetables to tickle your taste buds and the sunny weather invites us to eat outside. Make a plan to prepare a picnic meal with your family. In addition to meeting our nutritional and social needs, preparing food is a form of nurturing and altruism that makes us feel self-sufficient and useful, and eating together strengthens bonds and reduces isolation. Picnicking also creates an opportunity to share favorite recipes and stories from summers gone by. Check out some easy summer recipes. LINK to Summer Recipes
- Try low-exertion outdoor activities. Bocce ball, shuffleboard and croquet are fun games that require little exertion. They’re also old-school activities that may bring prompt pleasant recollections for our older kin. Even seniors with mobility, vision or cognitive issues can engage in warm-weather sports. Contact your local medical center or council on aging to learn about special programs like OhioHealth Fore Hope, a golf program for people with cognitive and physical challenges. “The program provides adapted equipment, modified leagues and golf professionals to help seniors get outside and enjoy the game of golf.”
Warm Weather Cautions for Cardiac Patients
“Respect the summer heat, but please don't let it be the reason your exercise programming comes to a halt,” says Josh West, a clinical exercise physiologist at the Virginia Commonwealth University Pauley Heart Center in Richmond. Instead, understand how your body may react to the higher temps and humidity, and how to avoid common summer calamities.
“Your heart rate may be 5-10 beats higher at a given exercise activity than it would be under normal conditions,” West notes. “Please be aware of this and adjust exercise intensity accordingly to stay within your physician prescribed exercise target heart rate range. The body will attempt to cool itself by increasing the amount of sweat it produces, which can leave even the most conservative summer exerciser dangerously dehydrated. Those heart patients not bound by a physician-ordered fluid restriction should plan to hydrate early and often during the long days of summer; before, during, and after any exercise activity.”
Whatever you decide to do this summer, make it safe, fun and rewarding!
Don’t disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it, because of what you read here. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional consultation, diagnosis or treatment; it is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have specific questions about any medical matter, and seek professional attention immediately if you think you or someone in your care may be suffering from a healthcare condition.