Spring is finally in the air — mild temperatures and a little sun are a welcome respite from a long and brutal winter. Seniors and caregivers who have been cooped up for so many months can finally step outside for some much-needed fresh air and a little vitamin D. It’s the perfect time to have some fun outdoors (before turning your attention to caring for the elderly during summer.)
Outdoor activities for seniors can range from a simple walk in the neighborhood to some more interesting and challenging recreation. Fresh air and physical activity have been shown to have positive effects on both physical and mental well-being. Some seniors can play tennis or ride bikes; others may need slightly more sedate activities. As always, senior safety and welfare should be the guiding factor.
Here are some ideas for excursions for both seniors and their caregivers:
Start with a visit to a garden center and confer with experts. Perhaps a full-blown vegetable garden is a little more daunting an undertaking than some seniors want to take on, but there are many fruits, vegetables and flowers that do very well in containers if space and activity level is limited. In addition to tending to growing plants, seniors (and their caregivers) can look forward to enjoying a nutritious bounty at harvestime!
Flea Markets and Craft Fairs
Flea markets and craft fairs are ideal places for seniors to buy gifts (for themselves or others) on a budget. It’s also a great way to connect with people — vendors love to talk about their goods. Go early to avoid crowds.
Walks in Nature
In Chicago, we’re lucky enough to have a beautiful preserved lakefront ideal for walking. But almost all towns have parks or nature centers. Even strictly urban walks can be restorative. Just remember to take care and apply sunscreen, wear a hat and bring water. And comfortable shoes are a must.
Hobbies and Games
Bird Watching, fishing, kite flying are all low stress outdoor activities that can be enjoyed by those of any age. Not sure where to start? Visit your local library and check out how-to guides. Many communities offer clubs for seniors to get together and enjoy outdoor activities.
Take the Indoors Outdoors
Almost anything you enjoy indoors can be taken outside. Reading a book on a bench in the park or on a patio in sunshine can be preferable to reading by lamplight in a stuffy room. Chess, backgammon, and card games work just as well on a picnic table as a kitchen table. And speaking of picnics, enjoy a meal al fresco. Chances are you won’t be alone, and the people-watching will provide seniors and caregivers much to talk about.
Getting outside and enjoying activities can foster closer connections between seniors and their caregivers. Remember to ask what your senior client or loved one might like to do, but make suggestions for activities outside the box. You’re never too old to try new things!
Photo by: Betty Roggenkamp
Senior caregivers are a vital to enabling the elderly age more enjoyably. If you are a certified companion caregiver, consider becoming the next career step in your caregiving career. Become a Certified Nursing Aide by taking a local C.N.A. course. Visit the Caregiverlist Career Center for more information.