After a long and cold winter, it’s time to get ready for spring. Instead of being cooped up 24/7 inside a senior living community, your mom or dad is probably ready to head outdoors. As the weather warms up, they might have more energy and more enthusiasm for greeting the new day.
Outdoor activities provide some important health benefits for older people. Studies show that sunshine can help them increase Vitamin D, which is important for seniors who may have a deficiency that can adversely affect their bone and heart health.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions for helping your parents enjoy the warmer weather. Some of these activities can be enjoyed at their senior living community, while in other cases, you can take your parent for a special outing elsewhere to experience some of the season’s true delights.
Enjoy a Walk Outdoors
Physical fitness is a key to good health for older adults, and walking is considered one of the most beneficial exercises they can do. It improves circulation, strengthens muscles, promotes joint health, increases balance and stability, and because it’s a low-impact exercise, it will not put undue strain on your body. While walking is a great activity whether done inside or out, outdoor walking allows you to gain the Vitamin D benefits previously mentioned and also help elevate your mood at the same time.
If your mom or dad is unable to walk far distances, even a short stroll can be beneficial. However, make sure their physician agrees with the benefits of walking before making this a regular part of their exercise routine.
Take Your Visit Outside
Rather than confining your visits to your parent’s room, apartment, or an indoor lounge, sit outdoors to enjoy the gentle breezes and warmer temperatures of the season. You can just sit and chat, perhaps play a game of checkers or chess, or you can stroll around the outside areas—either walking together or pushing your parent’s wheelchair. Having the opportunity to get outdoors, even for 10 or 15 minutes, might be the highlight of your parent’s day.
Try Your Hand at Gardening
Was your mom or dad a gardener in days of yore? There’s no reason they can’t try their hand at gardening again. Many senior living communities have gardening programs with raised garden beds allowing for easier access. If your parent’s senior living community doesn’t have such a program, contact the administrator to inquire about getting one started.
Take a Drive
Springtime is a wonderful time to hit the open road. Take your parent for a ride to admire the countryside as trees and plants begin to awaken from their winter slumber. Beautiful views can stir the soul and provide a tremendous sense of wellbeing—something your parent is sure to appreciate after a long winter.
Visit a Nearby Park
Sitting outdoors at a local park can be an invigorating experience. Make your time in the park special. Take a picnic lunch. Bring the kids, so your mom or dad can enjoy watching their grandchildren or great-grandchildren play on the jungle gym or do cartwheels in the grass.
Enjoy a Grandchild’s Sporting Activity
If your son or daughter plays softball, baseball, or soccer, your parent may like the idea of being a spectator at their next game. Extra bonus: Your child will get an extra sense of accomplishment scoring a goal or making a great play in front of Grandma or Grandpa. Be sure you take along a camp chair for your parent’s comfort.
Visit an Outdoor Attraction
Your parent may enjoy a visit to a local botanical garden, an outdoor musical performance, or a meal at an outdoor café. Does your Mom or Dad like baseball? Consider taking them to a game at the local stadium so they can root, root, root for the home team.
Be Mindful of Your Parent’s Health
While being outdoors is enjoyable, it’s always important to know your parent’s limitations. If allergies or respiratory ailments are an issue, be sure you are aware of pollen counts, low-air quality days, and other factors that may have an adverse effect. And always remember to use sunscreen—this goes for both you and your parent—when outside in the sun. Have your parent bring a hat and a sweater, and wear when appropriate to protect against sun or an unexpected chill.
Check out additional ideas for senior springtime activities at A Place for Mom. There are many great ways to help your parent enjoy the joys and gifts of this special time of year.
CHIME IN: What are some of you and your parent’s favorite springtime activities?