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Friday, March 24, 2017

Summer Fun for Seniors

 

man fishingIt's that time of year when the outdoors beckon! Spending time outdoors is good for all ages, but especially beneficial if you are "getting up there" in years. It increases our vitamin D levels, which helps fight certain conditions such as osteoporosis, cancer, heart attacks and depression. Make getting outside one of your goals for the summer, spending less time in front of the television or computer. Just making the trip to attend an indoor function can have some of the same health benefits. The health and social benefits of staying active are plentiful. Of course, you want to keep summer safety in mind. Summer can bring extreme heat that will increase the risk of dehydration, heat stroke, and other health risks, so be sure to practice safety first.

Summer Ideas for Those with Mobility Issues

  • Fishing Excursion - this can be a “just-for-fun” catch and release fishing activity. For those who always enjoyed the sport in earlier years, you can cast a rod from a fishing pier or along a riverbank or pond. Some sportsman clubs have ponds to fish. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the day sitting in nature.
  • Picnic at a Local Park or Playground - get back to nature by packing a lunch and eating outdoors. Your grandchildren might enjoy this outing as well. You can also just sit on a bench and enjoy the neighborhood children having fun. Before my father-in-law passed, we would drive to the state park nearby and locate a picnic table close to the parking area. Then, we would just sit in the shade and enjoy the outdoors for a while. He so loved the fresh air!
  • Reinvent your Green Thumb - did you always enjoy gardening? There is no need to give it up even if you have mobility issues that keep you from bending over. Plant your vegetables or flowers in raised flowerbeds or pots. Adapt or purchase tools that will make working in the garden easier.
  • Join or Start your Own Book Club - if your community does not have a book club, invent one. Ask you local churches for help in getting the word out or check with your local library; they may have an existing program. Then start by just sharing books that each of you have enjoyed. Too much trouble? Then, hop on line and participate in a book club such as TOS50.com- http://tos50.com/sections/book-club. This is one designed for older adults.
  • Attend a Coffee Group - or start one with your friends and neighbors. Members can take turns hosting in their homes. Meet once a week or monthly. One of our local restaurants has a group of men who gather every morning. The interaction these guys have is fun to watch.

Community Events

  • Attend Museum Activities or Historical Society Events - many museums / societies offer summer activities for free.
  • Art Walk / Gallery Openings - local businesses sponsor summer art walks and other gatherings. Stroll your downtown to see what local artists offer. To see what your community offers, get in touch with your local community events planner or look for a community events calendar.
  • Catch a Sporting Event - this can be any local sporting event. Enjoy a local Little League team, your grandchild’s team, minor league or even a professional event. Many stadiums offer discounts for senior citizens.
  • Walk Around the Flea Markets, Farmers Markets, or Craft Shows – check the community events section in your local newspaper or news broadcasting.
  • Catch an Outdoor Theater or Concert Event - again check your local media community events section.
  • Take a Peak at the Calendar - look for special event days such as National Ice Cream Day, Fly a Kite Day, or Donut Day then go for a drive. Many businesses will offer free samples on these special days.
  • Take in a Movie - many communities offer outdoor movie nights during the summer months. If it is an especially hot afternoon you may want to check out the lower prices with afternoon matinees at the local theatre. Or, simply organize a movie night at home and get together with some friends to enjoy a movie that you all might like. See our list of some classics.

Budget Friendly Activities for Seniors

  • Bird Watching - with a small investment in a bird feeder and/or birdbath, many hours of bird watching can be enjoyed. The birds love to bathe in my small garden pond and sometimes it is quite funny to watch. Keeping the feeder full and water in the birdbath are daily activities to keep you busy. This can be a more in-depth activity by borrowing books from you local library and identifying the various birds that will visit. A pair of binoculars enables you to bird watch beyond your own back yard and could help with vision issues.
  • Be a Tourist in Your Home Town - check for local summer activities and take a day to reacquaint yourself with your surroundings and nearby attractions. You may even want to start strolling around your neighborhood. If you feel a walk would be good for you, start out with just a couple of minutes and increase by a minute or two each day, building strength with each step.
  • Go Fly a Kite - this would be fun to do with grandchildren. You could even teach them to build their own kite. Kites vary from easy to more advanced and can also be flown from a sitting position. You can keep this a simple backyard activity or make it an excursion to the park and see how many interested fellow kite flyers show up.
  • Swimming or Water Aerobics - many community pools offer activities and specific times for elderly participation. Simply walking around in the water during senior’s day has great health benefits while being very easy on your joints. Consider taking a water aerobics or exercise class.
  • Plan a Garden Party or Tea Party - invite your friends, set up tables and chairs, stroll through the garden and enjoy the beauty you may have right in your own back yard. You can keep this a simple event or go to great lengths with decorations and entertainment. The possibilities are endless. My mother’s family members recently got together for tea celebrating what would have been my grandmothers 100th birthday. The various generations all enjoyed hearing what it was like growing up 70 to 80 years ago and some of the stunts my grandmother use to pull. This event is not just for women either. Many organizations sponsor these events and you can attend. Check with your local garden clubs.
  • Go for a Nature Walk - gather the little ones around you and take them for a nature walk pointing out all the wonders of Mother Nature. Plan a scavenger hunt. Google nature scavenger hunt and check out all the possibilities.
  • Check out the Sites at the Local Mall - even if shopping is not your thing, find a bench and do some people watching or simply stroll around checking out what is new. People watching can often lead to a few laughs and I see many people at our local mall enjoying this activity.
  • Check out Bookstore Activities - bookstores, especially the bigger chains, have activities year around - or maybe you just want to sit in the café area and read a good book.
  • Set up Some Simple Yard Games - and invite friends- some old time favorites are the beanbag toss, horseshoes, croquet, shuffleboard, and bocce.
  • Go for a Boat Ride - this very relaxing excursion can be something your community offers if you live near a lake or river. There might even be a dinner cruise available. You can make a day of it and rent a boat at a state park, or marina.

Volunteer Activities

  • Volunteer – sign up as an usher at your local summer theater in exchange for free admission. Library’s, hospitals, etc, appreciate the many hours volunteers put in.
  • Library Readings and Activities - volunteer to read at Children’s Story Time or check your local library for special events. They may offer a forum for book clubs. Your library is still a great resource for community activities.
  • Offer your Skills - many seniors have skills that others would enjoy learning. You can reach out to your local library, community center, etc. to offer your skill for a class in fly-fishing knots, teaching knitting, or how to bake the perfect apply pie.

Other Ideas

  • Metal Detecting - people love to take their metal detectors to beaches, parks, and other public places. Many artifacts are found and donated to local museums and libraries. If this is something you really enjoy, there are special trips for metal detecting excursions all over the country and the world. You never know what you might find!

Whatever you decide to do, whether it be indoors or outdoors, will be mentally and physically uplifting. Check with your local recreation department, senior center, or community center to see what events may be planned for your community. Many centers offer activities on a daily basis - ranging from dancing to coffee clutches. Remember to keep moving, keep learning, keep challenging your brain, and keep engaging your senses. Take time to smell the roses and enjoy your summer!

It is not how old you are, but how you are old. — Marie Dressler

  
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