There’s nothing like summer in Chicago — even if this summer is sure to be unlike any other. If you’re a caregiver, one priority this summer is sure to be helping your senior go out and make most of the beautiful weather, while staying safe and enjoying socially distanced activities along the way.
At the time we’re writing this, our communities are beginning to gradually reopen after the stay-at-home orders put in place in the early days of COVID-19. This means that stores are starting to open their doors to foot traffic, outdoor seating is coming back to many restaurants and bars, and some parks and greenspaces are reopening areas to the public.
As we all move forward, it is still important for everyone to follow proper health and safety protocols — including practicing proper handwashing, wearing a mask when going into a confined space, regularly sanitizing touchpoints around the home, and practicing proper social distancing. Following safety guidelines is particularly important for caregivers and seniors, who are both particularly vulnerable to infections and illnesses.
Fortunately, there are lots of fun and creative ways to make the most of warm days and gorgeous sunshine in Chicagoland, while maintaining proper social distancing and protecting everyone’s health. Looking to help your senior loved one enjoy the summer days ahead? Here are a few socially distanced summer activities perfect for older adults:
1.) Have a Safe, Socially Distanced Backyard Barbecue or Picnic
The State of Illinois allows for gatherings of up to ten people, especially if you’re meeting up in an open air location.
Why not take advantage of a beautiful summer day by hosting a cookout, barbecue, or picnic in your senior loved one’s backyard?
Spread out, and try to keep a little bit of breathing room between everyone. You can set up a long picnic table, or sprawl out on blankets in the grass. To keep things extra safe, encourage everyone to bring their own silverware, or use disposable plates and forks. People can even bring their own food, to avoid using a communal bowl or serving platter. If one person is manning the grill, encourage them to wear a mask and rubber gloves.
Throughout the day, encourage proper handwashing, and be sure to sanitize your loved one’s bathroom once everyone has left. For more ideas on throwing the perfect socially distanced barbecue, check out this great guide from Realtor.com.
2.) Go for a Walk
To encourage outdoor activities during COVID-19, Chicago has launched a “Shared Streets” program, closing down some roads to through traffic in order to encourage socially distanced walking and biking. Leland Avenue, on the northern end of the city, is a “guinea pig” for the program, which could extend to other streets around the area.
Whether you live near a shared street or not, going out for a walk around the block can be an easy way for your elderly loved one to get active and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine, while staying safe. Regular walking has been proven to help older adults improve their cardiovascular health, maintain a healthy weight, and strengthen bones, muscles, and joints. Walking is also a mood booster, and may even help to slow cognitive decline and dementia.
When going for a summer walk, try to avoid the hottest and brightest parts of the day. Instead, go out in the morning or evening, when the temperature is lower and there may be a bit more shade. Bring a bottle of water so your loved one doesn’t get dehydrated. Be ready to offer support or a helping hand, and make sure your loved one doesn’t push themselves too far, too fast. Encourage them to wear proper attire, including loose clothing, a sun hat, and walking shoes. Finally, remember to wear a mask if you’ll be on a busy or crowded street, wash your hands as soon as you come inside, and avoid public drinking fountains, benches, and other areas that may be a home to dangerous germs.
3.) Go for a Car Ride
While your other vacation plans may be on hold this summer, there are still lots of fun opportunities for road trips. Often, you don’t even need to leave your community to discover something new by car!
A road trip is a great way to bring your whole family together, and can be a particularly safe way for seniors to enjoy some fresh air. Remember to keep your car clean and sanitary, wiping down doors, seats, seatbelts, and any other “touchpoint” in the vehicle on a regular basis. Bring a water bottle, snacks, and a first aid kit.
Looking for some road trip inspiration? Try seeking out fun driving routes in your area. In the Chicago suburbs, for example, you can easily plan a day trip to look at houses by Frank Lloyd Wright, or make a plan to drive through scenic forests and nature preserves.
Want to keep the spirit of adventure going, even when your car is back in the garage for the day? Help your senior loved one take a “virtual vacation” by touring museums, galleries, or foreign cities online. You can find some wonderful resources for virtual tours here, courtesy of Curbed Chicago.
4.) Work In the Garden
This summer may be the perfect time to help your elderly loved one make the most of their green thumb. Gardening is a safe, meaningful, and healthy activity that seniors can enjoy from home. You don’t even need a sprawling yard to get started, thanks to space-saving gardening solutions like hanging planters and window boxes.
To keep things safe, be sure to wipe down any new tools or supplies for your loved one as soon as you bring them home from the store. As they work in the garden, encourage your senior loved one to regularly wash their hands, stay hydrated, and wear sunscreen and a sun hat to avoid getting burnt.
5.) Relax In the Great Outdoors
A little fresh air can do a world of good for people of all ages — and with a little planning and creativity, there are countless hobbies that can be safely and comfortably enjoyed outside. Encourage your loved one to spend a few minutes on their deck or patio enjoying a quiet activity such as reading, painting, writing, or completing puzzles and word games. To help your loved one stay active, join them for outdoor exercises, such as morning yoga, tai chi, or chair exercises.
If you meet for a movie night with your loved one, consider enjoying your special feature under the stars, with a projector, a laptop, a few speakers, and some comfy outdoor seating. More of a game night aficionado? You can set up a dining table to play cards or enjoy your senior loved one’s favorite board games, or set up safe, no-contact lawn games like horseshoes, a bean bag toss, badminton, lawn bowling, or bocce ball.
Looking for Help Caring for Your Family? We’re Here for You
Have any more questions about how you can help your elderly loved ones to stay safe, healthy, and active as we all navigate through COVID-19? Do you have an aging loved one who could benefit from the companionship and support of a trained professional caregiver?
We are here and ready 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 seniors remain in the comfort of their own homes, including providing assistance with housekeeping, activities of daily living (ADLs), driving services, and more. Our services are flexible, convenient, and it’s easy to get started. In most cases, we can be up and running in just two days.
Our companions are responsive and responsible, and we have always placed the utmost emphasis on protecting our clients’ health and safety. Right now, we are responding seriously to the continued threat of coronavirus by continuing to emphasize proper handwashing techniques, wearing masks, disinfecting our company vehicles, and having back-up caregivers ready to step in should a companion ever display any signs of an illness.
During these unpredictable days, we’re here to offer guidance and provide support, in whatever way we can. Get in touch online using our handy contact form, or give us a call at 866-910-9020 today.