Happy National Picnic Month! August is a great time for weddings, family reunions and the perfect simple picnic. That goes for our elderly loved ones, too! Picnics are a great way to experience fresh air, feel the warmth of sunshine and take in the scent of the outdoors ― especially for our loved ones who may be living in a personal care or assisted living facility or nursing home. While there are pros and cons to consider when planning outdoor events, with the right preparation, the pros can greatly outweigh the cons.
Choosing to take your senior loved one on an outdoor picnic can help to stimulate their senses and lift their spirits. Plus, a picnic is a great way to encourage your loved one to enjoy food and to promote the social interaction that comes with shared mealtimes. You can also invite them to get involved with the preparation, such as making sandwiches or shredding lettuce for a salad.
When planning an outdoor picnic with your loved one, consider some of the following factors:
1. Medications: Some medications commonly prescribed for seniors make them more sensitive to the sun. It can increase their risk for a variety of problems ranging from sun poisoning to sun stroke. This Sun Sensitive Medications List from WebMD can help you determine if one of your aging loved one’s medications is putting them at risk.
2. Sunscreen: Don’t forget the sunscreen! A common mistake is not applying enough sunscreen, and failing to reapply it throughout the day. As we age, it is even more important to use sunscreen because our skin becomes thinner and more fragile. Remind seniors and other guests to apply the equivalent of one shot glass of sunscreen every two hours. A fun way to encourage guests to do that is to set up a sunscreen station complete with bottles of sunscreen and shot glasses!
3. Hydration: Make it easy for your aging loved one to stay hydrated. Pack bottles of cold water and plan a picnic menu that incorporates foods with high water content. A few suggestions include watermelon, leafy salad greens, cucumber slices and strawberries.
4. Special Diets: Food choices can play an important role for older adults who live with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. When planning your picnic menu, remember to keep those special diets in mind. If your loved one lives in a personal care or assisted living community, ask the staff if he/she has any dietary restrictions.
5. Warning Signs: Know the warning signs of heat-related illnesses in seniors. Recognizing the earliest symptoms that can indicate your aging loved one might be getting into trouble is key to helping them receive treatment in time. For older adults, heat-related illnesses may occur more quickly than they do in younger people.
With a little planning, you and your loved one can enjoy a picnic outdoors just like their younger counterparts. If planning a picnic sounds like a fun way to spend time with your elderly loved one, we hope you’ll give it a try. Do you have other ideas to add to the list or personal experiences to share? If so, please feel free to comment with them below. We’d love to hear from you!
If you are in need of senior care for a loved one, or if you would like to talk through what type of care your loved one needs, please feel free to contact us any time via our online contact form or by calling our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571. Or, visit the care levels & services page of our website to learn about the types of care we offer, including In-Home Care, Memory Care, Long-Term Nursing Care, Adult Day Services, Hospice Care and more.
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