The first day of spring is upon us on March 20. It’s been a long, cold winter for many of us. I know that I shouldn’t complain about the weather since I live in California, but it sure did rain a lot this year! A few days with a hint of warm weather has me wanting springtime to hurry up and get here. I love the warm sun on my face and a calm breeze on my skin. It’s so good for the soul! It’s not only good for me, but for everyone, including seniors and the elderly.
It’s important that you try to get your senior outside this spring. Often, seniors are pent up inside during the winter months, and sometimes year-round. They tend to have low levels of vitamin D. Research shows that the benefits of vitamin D can help with skeletal health, meaning stronger bones, and lower incidents of colorectal cancer and good levels of vitamin D have been correlated with lower cardiovascular disease.
Sunlight also just has that effect of increasing mood and energy and just making us happy!
There may be barriers to getting your senior outside such as their frailty and levels of fatigue, wheelchair access, proximity of bathrooms and logistics of incontinence care. If your senior were able to get outside, even if only for 2 minutes to start, the benefits to their mind and body will be well worth it.
I’ve put together some ideas of things you can do with your senior outdoors this spring. Whether they get out on foot, by walker or are rolled, even a few minutes will be a gift to them.
If you need to start off with a stroll in the backyard, that is perfectly fine. It’s a great place to start for those seniors who have not been out all winter season and who may have lower stamina. You could build up to small walks down the street and back (I’m talking 2-4 minutes in one direction, whatever they can tolerate without over exerting).
Move your Indoor Activities to the Outdoors
Many everyday activities could easily be moved outdoors. Meals could be served outside. Television can be watched outside, too. If your senior enjoys a good game of cards, chess or checkers, why not move the game outside?
Take a Foot Dip
If you have a pool, or a community pool, maybe your senior would like to dip their toes into the water. It can be very refreshing and cooling on a very warm day. If you don’t have access to a pool, then a bucket or bowl of water in the backyard would also do! This is probably more safe for most seniors anyway!
If your senior is able to get out the local park or nature area, bird watching with binoculars is a great activity. If they need to stick closer to home, then a birdbath or bird feeder in the backyard can provide great entertainment while they are soaking up some sun.
There’s nothing better that a good game of croquet! It brings back memories of playing in the sun in my big front yard. Your senior might also enjoy playing a slow game of croquet, or maybe mini golf or bean bag toss. These games could also be played with the grand kids, too! Two for one!
Local Craft Shows/ Farmer’s Markets/Swap Meets
Many communities have frequent craft shows that you could leisurely wander through during the spring months. You could also take your senior while you run to the weekend Farmer’s Market for fresh vegetables. Swap meets or flea markets are always fun too.
Concerts or Theater in the Park
Around my town, we have a park that holds concerts once a week. You can bring your lawn chair or blanket and have a picnic. The music is sometimes very loud, so consider sitting farther back.
Gardening is hard work and I don’t mean to have your senior out there with a shovel tilling the land. However, they can plant, water or pull weeds. If getting down low to the ground is a problem, consider potted plants or raised gardens that they can work at from a sitting or standing position.
If your senior still has the energy, maybe they would like to take in a professional sports game. If that is too much, then they may prefer to attend the soccer game of their grandchild or even great grandchild! What a treat for everyone.
A favorite pastime for many, metal detecting, can set you off on an adventure and can somehow get you to walk a lot more than you intended or thought you could.
If you have a local botanical garden this is a great place to wander around and enjoy the spring flowers and trees. There will be plenty of places to sit down and rest, relax or read a book.
The local zoo can be a fun place for a short visit if it is not a busy or hot day. People of all ages seem to never tire of watching the animals.
Before You Venture too Far Out
Before you go on any extended trips outside with your senior please make sure to do the following:
- Talk with the senior’s doctor about your plan. They may want to have your senior start off with some chair exercises if they have not had any strenuous activity for awhile. Make sure the doctor feels comfortable with your plans. If there is a history of skin cancer in the senior or their family, the doctor may want them to limit their time in the sun.
- Plan to go outside during the cooler hours of the day.
- Bring along plenty of water and make sure your senior drinks it.
- Apply sun block, and re-apply as needed.
- Use insect repellent if needed.
- Have a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses available.
Have fun with your senior. I’d love to hear what your senior’s favorite outdoor activity is!