A Bit of Pre-Planning Can Make July 4th Celebrations Elder-Friendly
July 4th is a day of celebration for our country’s independence, bringing people of all ages together to attend barbecues, parades, beach gatherings, and fireworks. But for those with loved ones in hospice care in Santa Clara and elsewhere, or for those who care for their aging parents at home, this holiday can be loud, scary, and overwhelming. But a little bit of pre-planning can go a long way when it comes to making the 4th of July an elder-friendly holiday.
Here are some tips on how to make this holiday safe for the elderly while still keeping the spirit of our nation’s independence in mind.
Making Festive Outings Senior-Friendly
Not every senior will want to go out for the 4th of July, but for those who do, there are ways you can enjoy traditional celebrations together, such as visiting a friend’s house for a barbecue or watching fireworks at night. Here are a few suggestions on making those outings safe and happy.
1. Limit Sun Exposure
Make sure you put plenty of sunscreen on them and place them in a cool, shady spot, suggests DailyCaring. It’s UV Safety Awareness Month and Air Conditioning Appreciation Day on July 3, so keep these things in mind when venturing out. Dress them in layers so they will be comfortable with a light sweater in the morning for watching a parade, yet they are still able to shed that sweater later on at the pool party when it warms up. Keep the AC running in their home so that when they return, it will be nice and cool so they can sleep well.
2. Get Them Comfortable
No matter where you venture, make sure your loved one is comfortable at all times. It can be very tiring to stand for long periods of time, especially with a cane or walker. Bring along a wheelchair, portable chair, or cushion for when they need to take a break.
3. Keep Them Hydrated
Bring a cooler of their favorite drinks, such as water or juice. Make sure they are staying hydrated throughout the day. You may want to bring along a spray bottle of cold water to give them a spritz when they are feeling overheated. Because they will be drinking a lot, make sure they have close access to a restroom at all times. Take frequent breaks to reduce the chance of an accident. Keep an eye out for symptoms of heat stroke. Older adults who become dehydrated can develop:
- lack of energy
- muscle cramps
- dry mouth
- low blood pressure
- rapid heart rate
- less frequent urination
- dark-colored urine
4. Limit Time at Parties
Particularly if your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, don’t stay too long at family gatherings or barbecues to prevent agitation, restlessness, anxiousness, or fatigue. Make an appearance, perhaps for an hour or so, then get them home to regroup.
Elders who are on bed rest or who have limited mobility will be better off celebrating the holiday at home. But there are still some ways in which you can make the day special for them.
- Watch parades, festivities, and fireworks on TV. This is a hands-off activity with plenty of opportunities all day long for observing celebrations without all the hassle. Go a step further and set up a projection screen in the backyard at night to televise the fireworks, says Senior Safety Advice. It’s the next best thing.
- Hold a backyard barbecue. It doesn’t have to involve a lot of people but firing up the grill for some burgers and dogs is a low-key yet traditional way to celebrate this warm summer holiday. Keep any dietary restrictions in mind to accommodate heart-healthy and diabetic-friendly menu items. Select a nice shady spot for them to sit, and don’t forget the bug spray!
- Sing songs and play cards. Get out your phone and select a few patriotic songs to listen to, then sing them together. If your loved one likes cards, play a friendly game of Uno or gin rummy — whatever they enjoy playing. If there’s a game they remember from their childhood, see if they can remember the rules and teach you. Board games are always a fun choice, too. Just keep it simple and not too competitive.
- Do crafts: Gather everyone around the table and spread out some craft supplies. You can create red, white, and blue pinwheels, cards, magnets, or even handprint art. Check out these patriotic crafts to try with your senior loved one and kids.
As you can see, there are plenty of low-key ways to celebrate the 4th of July with your elders!
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
For more suggestions on how to make July 4th more elder-friendly, and to learn how we celebrate this festive holiday in a safe way with your loved ones, contact us at 888-978-1306.