How to Safely Include Your Loved One in Family Celebrations This Summer
After this year’s July 4th celebration, you may be thinking of more ways of including your loved ones in family celebrations this summer. This can be tough if your loved one is in end-of-life care in Santa Clara and elsewhere. When someone is facing a terminal illness, it can be terrifying to think about losing their independence. Couple that with diminished self-worth because they feel they can no longer participate in the same tasks and activities they once could, and summer may not hold the same appeal as it used to.
Hospice can be isolating in many ways. As a caregiver, you may be at a loss as to how to include your loved one in traditional summer fun while keeping their abilities and healthcare needs in mind. But with summer finally here and warm temperatures beckoning all outside, there are certainly many ways you can include your loved one in all sorts of family celebrations, from cookouts and picnics to beach days and nature walks.
Prepare for Cookouts Ahead of Time
There will no doubt be many block parties and barbecues going on in your neighborhood and at family members’ homes. Before taking your loved one to such a party, ask questions ahead of time and try to plan for any eventuality. First and foremost, make sure your loved one is feeling well enough, physically and mentally, to attend the gathering. Remember that cookouts typically involve heat, noise, bugs, grill smoke, and frolicking children. If your loved one has advanced dementia, for example, these gatherings can be scary and overstimulating, points out AgingCare.
Have a quick chat with the host to let them know what’s going on and whether or not they can accommodate your loved one’s needs and limitations. If they cannot, consider booking respite care while you attend alone, or consider another activity to plan with your loved one. If the host can accommodate your loved one, you should:
- Ask about the menu in advance. Discuss dietary limitations of your loved one and ask about the menu. You may feel that the menu items won’t agree with your loved one. After all, many people in hospice have diminished appetites, need to follow a strict diet, or just can’t stomach certain food items. In those cases, bring a dish for your loved one that is pre-made and approved.
- Find out the accessibility of the location. Many hospice patients need mobility aids when venturing out, such as walkers or wheelchairs. Find out what the terrain will be and plan how you will navigate any slopes, stairs, gate entrances, and other obstacles.
- Bring sunscreen and sit in the shade. Pick out a cool, shady spot for your loved one and make sure they are wearing sunscreen. Provide them with ice-cold drinks throughout the day to keep them hydrated. Choose a spot where your loved one can sit and watch the activities while maintaining distance from children who may be throwing balls or splashing in the pool.
- Pack extra supplies and clothes. Many elderly people or hospice patients suffer from incontinence. In this case, pack plenty of supplies and a change of clothes. Make sure they stay away from beverages like alcohol, citrus juices, and caffeinated drinks, which aggravate symptoms of incontinence.
- Know where the closest bathroom is. To avoid embarrassment, determine where the closest bathroom is so you can get your loved one there quickly when needed. Come up with a signal or code word so they can let you know they need to go without having to shout it out.
- Encourage brief chats. Bring the conversation over to your loved one when they aren’t able to move around. It’s easier for party goers to pop on over for a brief chat rather than the other way around.
Engaging in Other Summertime Activities
This summer is filled with possibilities for engaging your loved one facing end-of-life care. From sitting in the shade watching the birds to taking a relaxing drive to the beach, make sure your loved one stays safe this summer. Remember, older adults and the terminally ill have a higher risk of dehydration and sunburn, says the Institute on Aging. Be sure to take these precautions:
- Plan outdoor activities during cooler hours, such as the mornings and late afternoons.
- Ply them with plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Stick with non-alcoholic and caffeine-free beverages.
- Replace lost electrolytes and potassium through fruits and veggies, and sports drinks.
- Know the signs of dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion.
- Apply sunscreen as needed.
- Wear bug spray.
Outdoor activities can be safe for your loved one in hospice, provided you take the necessary precautions and plan ahead. Take them for nature walks, go for a drive to the coast, listen to live music at the park, take them to a Little League game, or just sit and chat on the back patio. Bring them for visits to friends and family, or encourage those people to come to you. Keep visits brief.
Summertime activities for seniors and the terminally ill bring many benefits. Increased sunlight gives them a mood boost with vitamin D, which also helps with brain, bone, muscle, and cognitive function. And of course, the increased socialization in summer gives them a chance to visit with cherished family and friends.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
We offer end-of-life care for your loved one as part of our hospice program. Please call us for more information at 888-978-1306.