5 Practical Tips for Enjoying Outings with Seniors
As the spring weather settles in, we can finally start to appreciate the beauty and nature of the outdoors and revel in the joy that it brings. Being outside and taking in fresh air is a rejuvenating act in and of itself, so it’s only natural that we long to embrace it while it’s here. Another plus is the ability to engage in outdoor activities with our aging loved ones. Outings can improve the mental state and overall health of the elderly - being transitioned into a fresh, new environment can be just the change your loved one needs from the monotony of his or her daily routine.
Here are 5 helpful hints and practical tips for minimizing stress and increasing your success as you embark on outings with seniors:
Plan Ahead: Not all locations are readily handicapped-accessible so be sure to do your research before heading to your destination. Certain factors to consider include: elevators or escalators vs. stairs; researching seating options; if the size of the crowd will impact the success of your visit; sensory details like being able to effectively see or hear in order to participate in an activity.
Be Flexible: If you’re a Type A person, it’s time to put that aside. Remember that this adventure is more for your loved one than for you. Take the time to build in breaks and expect the unexpected while on your outing. If you’re rushing your loved one or acting disinterested, then you can elevate any level of frustration or stress - be open-minded and try to just enjoy your time together in a new environment.
Keep it Simple: Aim for success - don’t set yourself up for failure. What do we mean by this? If possible, avoid things like: traveling during rush hour, going out to eat at peak times where a wait is inevitable, visiting a location without a proper bathroom setting, embarking on an outing in an overly crowded area.
Do Less: A phrase coined by millennials, but pertinent to the topic at-hand. If your aging loved one is used to being a home-body and rarely ventures outside of his or her home, then make your outing as easy and local as possible. Is there a nearby coffee shop with outdoor seating? Can you walk around a local park? Visit a local museum? Try to avoid activities with major time restrictions so that you can maximize your time together.
Hope for the best, Prepare for the Worst: The best that you can do is to prepare and plan for all possible scenarios you could experience throughout your outing. Be sure to pack the necessities: snacks, clothing for inclement weather, sensory aids, medication, anything needed for toileting or additional comforts. And perhaps most importantly, come ready to leave at the drop of a dime.
What types of outings have you found to be most successful with your aging loved ones? What kinds of tips have you found to be the most helpful?
CareZare is a FREE app for family caregivers to help them manage their care team and ensure the highest level of care for their loved one.