Multiple studies show that, no matter your age, there are real benefits to spending time outdoors. It can increase energy, improve memory, encourage physical activity, help fight depression and even boost the immune system. If you’re looking for outdoor activities for your senior loved one this summer, here are 10 ideas to get you started. They can be adapted to the level of their mobility, so even if they need a wheelchair or assistive device, both of you can still get outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
You don’t need a big yard or complicated setup to have a beautiful garden. Flowers, herbs and produce can be grown in small plots, side yards, raised beds, pots and window boxes. There are ergonomic tools, kneeling aids and other useful supplies that can make gardening easier, even if your loved one has arthritis.
Quiet neighborhood oases, playgrounds filled with families, dog parks, sprawling recreational areas, even national parks — there’s probably a beautiful park somewhere near you. Whether you spend a half hour or the whole day there, take advantage of the chance to enjoy the scenery together.
Fishing & Boating
Being near water has a calming and restorative effect. Fishing off the dock or along the banks of a pond can be a relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors. If your family doesn’t own a boat, see if your area has places you can catch a ride on the water — paddle boats, pontoon boats, river excursions or even gondola rides may be possible.
Summer is full of outdoor music events — and many of them are free. Check your parks and recreation calendar for city-sponsored events.
If your loved one needs a new and interesting hobby, encourage them to try nature photography. They don’t need an expensive camera — even a smartphone or tablet camera can take wonderful pictures.
Simple, portable games like bocce, croquet, lawn bowling and lawn darts make your yard a fun place to be. The whole family can participate, too.
Picnics & Cookouts
Pack up a basket or fire up the grill and dine alfresco every now and then. If your loved one is an early bird, have breakfast on the patio or balcony. If you want to have a picnic but don’t have time to plan — order a pizza. No matter how you do it, eating outside is a fun way to enjoy a meal together.
Arboretums & Zoos
Take a walk on the wild side and explore nature at your local arboretum, botanical gardens or zoo. You can take it at a pace that suits your loved one, and there are plenty of places to stop and rest, if necessary.
Perhaps a local museum has a sculpture park or visiting outdoor exhibit. You can also find interesting art installations and craft exhibitions around town during the summer months.
Getting outside can be as simple as taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood after dinner. It’s a good way to spend time together, say hello to the neighbors, and keep the body and brain active.