By Jason Schneider
Staying active is good at any age. And for seniors and older adults, warmer weather brings plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
“There are so many great things that older adults can do in the summer,” said Britney McConnell, LRT/ CTRS, recreation therapist with CarePartners PACE. “Take advantage of what is already around you.”
A few activities McConnell suggests:
- Go for a drive on the parkway. Stop at a place with a beautiful view for a picnic
- Go to a park, sit under a shady tree and read a book – or people watch.
- Watch a baseball game at the park.
- Visit a craft show or flea market. Or make crafts to sell.
- Go golfing or play miniature golf.
- Plant a garden. “You can also plant many vegetables in pots, or herbs in window boxes so they’re raised off the ground, making it easier to maintain and putting less strain on your back and knees,” McConnell said.
- Go swimming. “Swimming is an excellent recreational activity that is also exercise,” said McConnell. “You can cool off from the heat and move around without all the pressure on your joints.”
- Check out local museums, go to a movie or walk around the mall – all great ways to beat the heat.
“Utilizing your community resources is vital,” said McConnell. “Look into your local parks and recreation centers to see what events are going on. Most of these activities are family friendly and free!”
And if you’re a little more unsteady on your feet or use an assistive device, said McConnell, you may want to opt for a flat surface when choosing a walking path. “That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any of the fun,” she added. “There are plenty of paved hiking and walking paths so that you can still immerse yourself in nature while remaining safe and comfortable.”
If you’re going to a park, flea market or somewhere you might be walking a lot, call ahead or look online to make sure they have seating where you can rest, McConnell suggested.
For caregivers seeking activities with their loved ones, think of things that your senior used to love to do. “Whatever that may be, find a way to adapt it to their current level of functioning,” said McConnell.
For example, she said, if they grew up on a farm, take them to a petting zoo and reminisce about all the chores they might’ve done. Or if they loved to sew, take them to a craft fair where they can admire the artists’ craftsmanship.
“Don’t be afraid to take your senior out into the community just because of their cognitive or physical ability,” said McConnell. “You should never feel the need to apologize for getting older … in fact, you should celebrate it!”
Britney McConnell, LRT/ CTRS, is a recreation therapist with CarePartners PACE. (828) 213-8442