Great ideas to persuade older people to get some fresh air
Getting outside for some fresh air on a breezy spring day, or the in the warmer summer months, does not have to be difficult for older, less able people. Older people often get cooped up indoors for long periods of time, so as the weather gets warmer it’s an ideal time to get them out and about. It might take some advanced planning on your part to choose the most appropriate activity, which they will enjoy, but the benefit of getting out for both the older person and the carer will far outweigh the time spent in the planning.
The benefits of getting outside
The main advantage of heading outdoors, even for a short period of time, is being able to soak up the sunlight, which generates Vitamin D. This vitamin is essential for the brain, bones and muscle function and may even improve cognitive function.
The positive psychological effect of getting out of the house into new environments and having new experiences is well documented too. There will also be added social benefits and enjoyment, if you can also involve other members of the family, such as the grandchildren or other friends.
Ideas to get your older relatives to venture outdoors
Almost everyone looks forward to gathering with family and friends and a BBQ can be an easy and sociable way of getting outside….English weather permitting! But as with most outings involving older people, some pre-preparation both before and at the event and will make everything run a lot smoother as well as being more enjoyable for all. Here are some things to think about:
Before the barbecue
- Bear in mind that BBQs can be hot, smoky, chilly as well as noisy, so just ensure that your older relative is in good enough health and in the right frame of mind to enjoy it
- Think about both what they like and importantly, what they will be able to eat. If the menu is too spicy, or hard to chew, plan some alternatives for them, or if you’re not hosting, take some of your own food along for them to eat
- Make sure that there will be an appropriate seat for an older person, so check in advance and if in any doubt, bring along a sturdy, comfortable folding chair
- If your relative is in a wheelchair, find out in advance if the garden is suitable for wheelchair access and where it can be placed. Also ask about the accessibility of toilet facilities
- Check if there’s any shade and if not, you can bring an fold-up garden umbrella
- Ask your older relative to wear layers to ensure they can be comfortable temperature all day and will not get too hot or cold. Wearing good sturdy shoes will help to prevent trips and falls.
- If it’s hot, it’s a good idea to put on an all day suntan lotion on your older relative and yourself before you set off and also bring with insect repellent in case of wasps and other biters
At the barbecue
- Set up a spot for your older relative a distance away from the BBQ grill to avoid the heat and smoke, yet in a place where they can feel included in the event
- If your relative needs assistance to access the toilet, you might want to arrange a discreet hand sign or code word between the two of you, so you can excuse yourself to help out, avoiding any embarrassment on their behalf.
- If your relative can’t get around much, bring other guests over for a chat, so they can still socialise and feel part of the gathering
- Give yourself a break and ask other family members or friends to sit down with the older person now and again so you can get a chance to talk to others and enjoy the day too
- Dehydration can be a problem for elderly people, so make sure that a glass of water is always at hand. Avoid alcoholic beverages, which are dehydrating and can affect some medications your older relative might be taking
- If needed, make the food easier for your older relative to eat, such as cutting meat off the bone, or taking corn off the cob. Try to do this subtly, so there is no public embarrassment for them of having their food cut up in front of others
- Watch out for signs of restlessness, overheating, tiredness or any other distress, and be prepared to leave before the party early if necessary
Planning a day out based around photography is an excellent way to keep everybody’s interest. Look for a destination such as a park or a stately home with grounds which have a variety of subject matter, such as water, birds, flowers, buildings. Many of these venues have excellent wheelchair access if it’s required and good places to eat or grab a coffee break.Of course, the traditional camera will provide excellent results, but actually it is the new technology which can make this photo safari much more fun. So why not use a tablet to capture the images, as these are so easy for an older person to use and you get instant results. You can also take video. Younger family members can also join in showing the older person how to take the best images and show them how to apply special effects, often with very amusing results.
Take a tourist outing
An organised, all inclusive coach trip to can be a hassle free way of getting an older person out into a different environment and will also be much more sociable and relaxed for all concerned. An open top bus or a boat trip would also be an excellent alternative,with not much walking involved. Before you book anything, remember to ensure that there will the right facilities and access on the trip to meet the older person’s needs and comfort.
Visit some animals
Most people love watching animals, as you can sit, observe and enjoy their constant activity and antics without having to be very active yourself. They also give you plenty to talk about with an older person. There are many farms which allow you to feed and pet the animals and these places nearly always have a cafe and good access to facilities. Of course, there are also the more traditional zoos and safari parks dotted around the country, so take a look at these too. An animal focussed day is also ideal if you have younger children to entertain too, so it’s generally a fun day out for all.