Summertime means family time, with backyard barbecues, family reunions, fireworks, and weekend getaways. Including your aging parent in summertime travels and celebrations whenever possible can provide some mood-boosting changes of scenery and much-needed social interaction. However, it’s important to plan ahead and take your senior’s individual needs into account.
You need to consider terrain, temperature, length of the celebration and available food ahead of time. Talk with your senior to help avoid surprises and to make sure summer festivities will be fun.
Try these tips we’ve curated for keeping your aging parent safe while enjoying all the fun summer can offer.
Staying Comfortable — and Safe — Outdoors
- When attending outdoor parties and picnics, these tips from Always Best Care Senior Services in Asheville, North Carolina, can add to your senior’s comfort level and enjoyment:
- Hydration is key when the mercury climbs. The elderly are more prone to dehydration, because as we age, our body’s ability to conserve water is reduced, our sense of thirst is diminished, and we’re less able to adapt to changes in temperature. Spruce up plain water with a dash of fruit juice to make it more palatable. (Common medications, like diuretics taken for high blood pressure, can compound the problem of dehydration, notes the AARP).
- Remind your senior to wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses are also helpful.
- When attending an outdoor party or picnic, plan ahead for any obstacles, like stairs leading to a deck or uneven ground that could be difficult for your loved one to navigate.
- Find a shady spot for your senior to sit, or pack a large umbrella for outdoor gatherings, and bring sunscreen.
- Bring a sturdy chair with adequate support — or claim one at the family gathering — that will allow your senior to get up and down with confidence.
- Consider your senior’s dietary restrictions, and if necessary, prepare dishes ahead of time that she can enjoy, or help her make the best choices from the food available.
Going Away with Your Senior
If an aging parent is accompanying you and your family for a weekend getaway or short vacation, these tips from A Place for Mom can help:
- Consult with your senior’s doctor about any safety or health concerns, and make sure you have all necessary medications and their related schedules.
- Research hospitals and care centers at your chosen destination ahead of time, and bring your senior’s insurance information and doctor contacts — just in case.
- Put medication, important documents, favorite snacks, a light sweater, and a puzzle book or other entertainment in a bag that’s easily accessible for your senior during the journey, rather than packed where she can’t access it.
- When possible, maintain a predictable routine to reduce stress and anxiety for your loved one — particularly if she has any cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s.
- Don’t rush the road trip. Plan for plenty of breaks, whether it’s taking time for a full meal or simply stopping at a rest area for fresh air and a good stretch.
- Sundown syndrome can make evening travel very stressful for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients, so take this into account when timing your travel.
With a little thoughtfulness and pre-planning, you can ensure summer celebrations and getaways are both fun and safe for you and your senior relative.
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