May 1, 2019

After a long winter of being cooped up indoors, there’s nothing quite like stepping outside and feeling the warmth of a sunny summer day, is there?

Here in the Chicago area, the spring and summer months are full of long, bright days, and cool, breezy nights. During this time of year, people of all ages turn their attention to the world outside their homes, and start to dream of how to make the most of this new, beautiful weather.

For seniors, getting outside during the warmer months is almost essential. During the warmest and brightest months of the year, going outdoors is a great way for older adults to soak up some sunshine – and with it, some nourishing and rejuvenating vitamin D. Spending time outdoors in nature has also been shown to have significant health benefits for seniors, including:

  • Boosting immunity
  • Helping to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Increasing energy levels
  • Improving memory and concentration
  • Reducing rates of chronic illness and pain
  • Increasing overall longevity

As a family caregiver, one item high on your spring and summer “to-do” list may be to help your senior loved one go outside and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

Fortunately, there are all sorts of fun, creative, and inspiring ways to help your senior savor the great outdoors and truly make the most of the season. Here are a few “off the beaten path” ideas for helping your loved one go outside, perfect for seniors of all levels of mobility:

1.) Enjoy Local Outdoor Events

As the weather gets warmer, many communities start to host fun outdoor events. Across our hometown of Chicago, for example, during the warm months you’ll find everything from “Shakespeare in the Park” performances to outdoor farmer’s markets; from open-air classical music concerts to movies under the stars. These outdoor events can be a great way to encourage your senior loved one to get out of the house and into their community.

Before you go, do some research to make sure the event will be senior-friendly. Will there be suitable restrooms available? Are there accommodations for those with mobility issues? Similarly, you may want to make arrangements to ensure your elderly loved one is comfortable the whole time, packing their favorite foods and bringing blankets and comfortable seating for longer events.

2.) Practice Art In the Great Outdoors

Many older adults make it a point to craft, paint, sculpt, or sew, as a way to express themselves and produce lasting works for themselves or their loved ones.

Practicing art has been shown to be hugely therapeutic and beneficial for seniors – so why not increase its health benefits by moving the process outside?

During the warm spring and summer months, there are so many things in the natural world to be inspired by. Whether your loved one likes to paint, take photographs, do crafts, or play music, it’s easy to move their favorite hobbies outdoors when the weather turns warmer, so they can enjoy the fruits of the season while doing their favorite creative activities.

3.) Picnic in Your Senior’s Favorite Place

Sharing a meal al fresco is a great way to spend time together while basking in the beauty of nature. Ask your loved one if they have a favorite restaurant, and see if that location has outdoor tables open.

Or, better yet, plan a nutritious and enjoyable meal full of your senior loved one’s favorites, and split it in one of their favorite outdoor spots – whether that means out in the back garden or in a favorite local park.

4.) Be a Tourist for a Day

Is there a beloved museum or outdoor attraction that your senior loved one has always wanted to visit? Why not help them spend the summer enjoying all the “touristy” things that they tend to take for granted during the year? Visiting the local botanic garden or arboretum, taking a bus tour of the city, spending an afternoon in a nearby sculpture garden, lounging around at a popular beach or lake nearby – all of these can be great, fulfilling ways for your aging loved one to embrace their community and enjoy time in the fresh air and sunshine.

5.) Help Your Loved One Make Their Way Around the Neighborhood

One of the most classic ways to enjoy a spring or summer evening is to go for a nice, long stroll. Walking has been shown to be one of the most effective forms of exercise out there for older adults. Whether your senior can only take a short stroll to the end of the block, or they’re up for a brisk walk around the community, the warm months are the perfect time to help your loved one go outside and get moving. Remember to let your senior loved one set a healthy pace, and make sure they’re fully equipped with safe walking shoes and appropriate clothing.

And remember, a journey around the neighborhood doesn’t have to be on foot! From taking a car ride to enjoy the spring breeze, to assisting your senior loved one travel in their wheelchair, there are plenty of ways to help your less mobile senior relatives get around outside.

6.) Start Observing Local Wildlife

As the weather gets warmer, local animals start to emerge from their winter retreats, while gorgeous plants and flowers bloom back to life. You may wish to encourage your senior loved one to go out and start connecting with their local flora and fauna. There are all sorts of ideas you and your loved one could put into place. For instance, you could set up a bird feeder in the backyard, to encourage your senior to regularly go out, change the food supply, and observe the birds that stop by. Similarly, your loved one may have an interest in birdwatching, cataloging butterflies, or going fishing. They might also be interested in taking nature walks or doing a little bit of spring and summer gardening.

7.) Head to the Water

What could be more summery than spending some time taking a dip in a local pool or lake? Many seniors absolutely come alive when they get to spend time near the water, and there are plenty of different ways to help your loved one enjoy themselves and make the most of their time outside.

For some seniors, an ideal day at the pool will mean sitting with a good book while others splash around. For others, a dip might mean simply dangling their feet in the water. Some may find that water aerobics and water walking offer a great opportunity to get in some healthy exercise, while also enjoying a cooling dip.

Always make sure your senior feels safe getting in the water and make sure that you or someone you trust is always on hand to keep an eye out for their wellbeing. Similarly, before hitting the beach or the pool, make sure you’re fully equipped with sun protection and towels, to help make the day as safe and comfortable as possible for your senior, and yourself.

Companions for Seniors Can Help Caregivers and Seniors Enjoy the Warm Weather

Looking for support in giving your senior loved one the personalized support and attention they need to truly enjoy the warm weather? Have any questions about helping your loved one stay safe and healthy while remaining independent? We’re here to help.

At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home, by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

Our companions are trained and bonded and can help provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one remain in the comfort of their own home, including providing assistance with housekeeping, activities of daily living, driving services, companionship services, and more.

If you have any questions about helping your parents enjoy themselves while they age in place, don’t hesitate to reach out to us online or give us a call to get the conversation started. We’re here to offer guidance and provide support, in whatever way we can!