Summer in Idaho is a great time to enjoy the outdoors. It’s not overly hot, and the nighttime temperatures are nearly perfect. It is important for seniors to have access to the same activities as the rest of the population, but this can seem challenging for seniors who live in care facilities.
Most care facilities, such as the Gables of Pocatello, have regularly scheduled activities that are appropriate for their residents. The following are a few suggestions for age appropriate activities that are safe and doable for residents and staff this summer season.
Keep in mind that the summer is a great time to engage families and invite them to the facility. Consider picking one or two of these activities that families are invited to participate in. The fact that most of these activities are outdoors also allows for social distancing to comply with local safety precautions.
Ice Cream Party
No matter how old you are, you are never too old for ice cream! In fact, many seniors would choose ice cream over most other desserts because that is the dessert they grew up with. Another bonus is that ice cream can be eaten even by those who have trouble with mastication. If you have a large number of diabetic residents consider having popsicles or sugar free ice cream options. If this party is taken outside, the cleanup will be easy and planning will be minimal, but residents are sure to feel the joy of summer with this classic treat!
An Evening on the Patio
Even though facilities have multiple residents, many of them do not know each other well. A simple evening on the patio to socialize and enjoy the cool, clean air can do the body and mind a lot of good. Take the time to invite every resident, and wheel residents outside if necessary. So many residents stay cooped up in their rooms and only interact with the people they regularly sit with. No matter how old, we are all creatures of habit and we get stuck in ruts of doing the same thing each day. The Gables of Pocatello has a beautiful front lawn and porch with many swings to enjoy. This is an opportunity for residents to socialize with other residents they may not know in an environment that is underutilized due to long Idaho winters.
Many senior living facilities have raised garden beds. These are great for seniors because they do not require as much physical bending as a traditional garden does. Gardening can be very therapeutic and it is something that most seniors are well acquainted with. Many of our senior residents grew up in a time when they had to work on the family farm, raise their own garden for food, etc. Not only can caring for the garden be an activity, but harvesting the fruits of the laborers and even eating what is being grown can be a fun way to get seniors outside and involved during the summer months.
Visit a Farmer’s Market
Any given Saturday during the summer you can usually find a pop-up farmer’s market to visit. Pocatello is no exception to that. They have a well-attended market that would be a very fun opportunity to get seniors out of the facility and also supporting local businesses. That’s a win-win!
It may take a few minutes of extra effort to allow residents outside dining, but if this can be arranged it could be the highlight of the week for seniors. Most of us have fond memories of eating outside when the weather permits. So many seniors spend the vast majority of their time indoors. If full-on outdoor dining is not an option it could be beneficial just to open the windows and get the fresh air and breeze rotating through the building.
Swimming is a great activity for seniors because a lot of them can no longer perform a regular exercise like we are used to. Swimming is easy on the joints, and is beneficial for a range of motion and cardiovascular health. Most pools have senior hours typically in the early morning so that there are not a bunch of kids jumping, splashing, and running around. If you are taking seniors to an outdoor pool it is essential that sunscreen is involved. Seniors’ skin is very sensitive and needs to be protected from harmful UV rays. This is another opportunity for a family activity. If there is enough interest you could consider renting a swimming area for residents and their families. To learn more visit www.courtyards-al.com
Even for residents who can’t get outside to enjoy the summer weather, a luau party is a fun way to bring the summer feeling inside. Make up a Hawaiian themed menu with a fun drink option. Just adding a paper umbrella to an everyday drink is an easy way to spice up the monotony of everyday. Grass skirts can be worn by everyone. Visit your local dollar store where you can find a wide variety of simple decorations to match the occasion. Music is a huge mood setter, so turn on some ocean sounds or the moana soundtrack and watch the residents soak in the fun! If you include a hula competition be sure to have cameras ready. You might be surprised whose got the moves!
This is a nostalgic classic for most elderly. They grew up going to the drive-in on dates, with family and friends and likely have fond memories of a simpler time when they were young and healthy. Facilities can easily create their own drive-in movie by hanging a sheet in the yard and setting up chairs or wheeling out residents to the grass and showing a classic film that fits their interests. Bags of popcorn could be the cherry on top, and don’t forget blankets because even in the summer when the sun goes down so does the temperature!
Hopefully we can all work together to make life fun for our seniors. Whether they live in a facility or not, there are still many ways for them to enjoy the beauty of summer. Get creative and get outside!