Summer is the perfect time to encourage your parents to get outside — whether they love to explore or simply enjoy the fresh air. But new mobility issues and COVID-19 restrictions might be making them hesitant to be outdoors, and could be keeping them increasingly inside. What can you do to help them stay active?
Whether you’re participating in activities together or you’re sending them ideas, this list of senior-friendly outdoor adventures can help your loved ones stay active, healthy, and safe all summer long.
Walk the neighborhood: The gold standard is also the easiest since it’s right outside your door. Just set expectations for how far you’ll go before you leave home. Bonus: make it social by chatting with neighbors, but be sure to keep a safe distance; and don’t forget the masks.
Walk together — virtually: Do your parents look forward to seeing their grandkids on screen? Take your video chats mobile and kick them up a notch. Go for a walk “together” and choose something for everyone to look for — trees, leaves, flowers, and buildings. Whenever anyone finds something new, stop and show each other via video.
Explore the woods: Off-road rail trails have been popping up like daisies, many of them flat and paved (even through the woods!) to accommodate bikes, feet, and even wheelchairs. Plus, they’re often broken up in small chunks — some as short as a quarter mile — which can be less intimidating for those with mobility limitations.
Visit the mountains: A surprising number of mountains have driving paths that get you all the way up to the top for maximum vista with minimum (actually zero) sweat. Some will have benches for enjoying the view, but consider bringing a couple of portable chairs just in case.
Picnic: Even if outdoor dining is allowed in your loved one’s neck of the woods, you might all still be apprehensive about being around other people. Instead of heading to a restaurant’s patio, get takeout or bring your own food to a nearby park or your loved one’s backyard.
Video chat: A simple change of scenery can work wonders. If you video chat with your loved ones, why not take it outside? Instead of sitting on the couch or at the desk, bring your phones or computers out to the patio or backyard.
Last but not least, not every step outdoors has to be a bona fide adventure, which is especially lucky given current times. As Dorothy Gale famously said, sometimes everything you need is right in your own backyard.