Summer is a time for celebration, vacation, and fun in the sun. Next week, we’ll celebrate Independence Day with parties, barbecues, swimming and fireworks. Often, aging persons find themselves staying at home or limiting activities due to health problems or other issues related to aging.
Social activity is beneficial, however, and should not be neglected. With July 4th festivities in mind, we have a few tips to make the most of the holiday for your aging loved one.
- Know their limits. Each individual is different, so it is important to think about your loved one’s special needs and preferences. Does a large crowd make her nervous? Has hearing loss affected his ability to enjoy certain activities? Be aware of which times of day your loved one feels best and how long they can tolerate activity. Plan accordingly, but don’t leave them out altogether.
- Involve them. Whether it is menu planning, cooking, making crafts, decorating, or just dreaming up ideas, most people enjoy participating in the preparation. If they are unable to help, discuss plans and ask for opinions.
- Be mindful of the temperature. Help your loved one stay out of the sun, and be sure to bring along a wide-brimmed hat and a light jacket. Make certain that they remain well hydrated. Alternate their favorite nonalcoholic drinks with water; and if they do wish to drink alcohol, be certain their doctor allow it, as it may interact with medications.
- Remember special needs and comfort measures. Of course, don’t forget to bring along any medication needed. Avoid accidents by taking frequent restroom breaks. Bring along a chair and/or cushion that is comfortable and easy to get in and out of.
- Keep expectations realistic. Expect that things will change as your loved one ages. He or she may not remember everyone. They may get upset if things get too loud or move too quickly. They may not be able to stay for the whole party. This is normal and it is fine. Be patient and adapt plans as needed.
- Relax. Allow your aging loved one to just sit back and observe if they wish. If they’d prefer to have someone with them at all times, take turns with others so that everyone can have some time to relax.
- Have an escape plan. If your loved one is sometimes agitated or easily tired, it is a good idea to have a safe, quiet place for them to take a break and rest. Have someone designated to deliver them safely home if they desire to leave early.
With a bit of thought and preparation, Independence Day can still be a fun and exciting holiday for aging individuals. We wish you and yours a very happy Fourth of July!