A sunny day is a great opportunity to take mom or dad on an adventure. The exposure to fresh air and vitamin D is highly beneficial for the brain, bones, and muscles, and can improve an individual’s cognitive function, overall mood, and outlook on life. Socialization beyond their community is also advantageous and invigorating, decreasing the risk of depression, heart disease, and other serious health problems.
A senior’s lifestyle can slow over the years, making it easy to fall into overly repetitive routines, spending many days indoors. As one might expect, this can have an impact on both mental and physical health. However, with proper care and encouragement, an excursion out of the home can work wonders!
Here are some fun, healthy outings for mom or dad:
Take lunch to the park. A picnic in the park is a wonderful way for your loved one to enjoy beautiful sights, stretch the legs, watch kids play, and listen to nature while enjoying the health benefits of natural sunlight. If you are unable to go to a nearby park, the grounds of their own senior living community can provide an excellent alternative. Be sure to find a picnic table or bench in a shady area.
Visit a library. If mom or dad is a bookworm, a trip to the library may be exactly what the doctor ordered! Not only will they enjoy browsing the bookshelves, but will likely also appreciate the freedom of selection, reminding them that they have independence.
Check out a pet café or animal shelter. Research has shown that animals can be therapeutic. Take mom or dad to a shelter to pet and play with animals waiting for a new home. There are even coffee shops made for pet therapy (a quick Internet search may reveal one near you).
Cuddle a baby. Many hospitals have need for ‘baby cuddlers’ – people who can embrace and nurture newborns as their parent recovers, works, or detoxes. A senior can offer therapeutic talk and touch, which may delay or even reverse declining brain function, reduce stress, and increase happiness. Like pets, babies can be healing, and can be the perfect mood booster.
Head to the water! Whether it’s an ocean, river, lake or pond, a visit to water can have immense health benefits. As Wallace Nichols, a marine biologist and author of Blue Mind explains, “the mere sight and sound of water can induce a flood of neurochemicals that promote wellness, increase blood flow to the brain and heart, and induce relaxation.”
Take a class. Learning a new skill, such as painting, gardening, or even a new language, will keep your parent cognitively active and engaged. It will also motivate them to practice what they have learned at home, which can help break up their typical routine.
Attend community events. Check your local newspaper or online forum for upcoming events and you will likely find several options for the culture enthusiast such as outdoor concerts, volunteer opportunities, flea markets, and art showings.
Ready to get outside? Consider activities your mom or dad has enjoyed in the past and you should have no trouble finding something that they will love today. Remember to consider their abilities before planning your trip to ensure that they are not limited and can enjoy the outing as much as possible.