Summertime heat and humidity might be standard fare for most of us, and maybe even welcome after such a tough winter! But for seniors, extreme summer weather can be tough to navigate for a number of reasons. First, older adults have a harder time adjusting to temperature changes, simply due the aging process; they’re also more apt to have a chronic health condition that impairs their body’s ability to respond normally to hot weather. Another factor is often certain prescription medications that can suppress perspiration and/or interfere with body temperature.
But not only is it important to get seniors safely outside and engaged all year long – it’s especially necessary from a Vitamin D standpoint, as its absorption is so critical to brain, bone, and muscle function. There are even studies that suggest the aging process narrows the eye enough to restrict light and impact circadian rhythms – another argument for getting plenty of sunlight exposure.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways for seniors to enjoy the summer weather with proper precautions. Here are some suggestions we’ve offered our community members:
- Take them to a sporting event. Do you have a child in a summer league? Sit in the shade with plenty of water, and let mom or dad watch their grandchild in action.
- Go for a picnic. Take a simple meal to a favorite park and do some people watching!
- Fly a Kite. If it’s not too blustery, an older adult can control a kite sitting down, or have fun sharing the activity with a grandchild.
- Take a boat or trolley tour. Here’s a great way to take mom or dad sightseeing in comfortable seats, without having to drive or do a lot of walking.
- Go for a swim. Taking a senior in the water can be challenging, but many YMCAs and senior centers have special senior swim times and helpful staff to assist you.
- Shell peas or shuck corn. Summer foods can be fun and easy to prepare; letting mom or dad in on dinner prep can be a simple way to keep them engaged and active.
- Head to an outdoor concert. Many cities and towns offer them in the summer, usually in the evenings when it’s often cooler and more comfortable.
As long as you’re helping your loved one stay shaded and hydrated there’s no reason not to embrace and enjoy the summer.