Be wise when picnic planning for seniors

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ARTICLE BY: Cecile Godfrey, Country Place Senior Living Regional Manager of Alabama

For months, we have been counting the days until summer.  The wait seemed endless. Now that we are in the golden glow of the season with months of cookouts and vacations, floppy sun hats and sunscreen ahead of us, it is time to start planning your family outings.  When planning quality time outdoors, you have to consider the needs of each family member and what will work and will not work when celebrating.

With picnicking the top choice for older Americans, there are a few things you can do when planning your outdoor activity to make it more comfortable for those who are older (and wiser) than the rest of us.

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It is good to soak up some sunshine Vitamin D. Vitamin D has several important functions. Perhaps the most vital are regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, and facilitating normal immune system function.  That being said, you also have to be on the safe side of burning!  And some medications commonly prescribed for seniors make them more sensitive to the sun so be aware of what these are and don’t put your loved one at risk.

• Protect your face and eyes – sunglasses, floppy sun hats, shaded areas, sunblock…all of these things protect you from over-exposure. So be sure to choose a shady spot and have these items on-hand.

With the heat comes dehydration.  It is important to offer plenty of water and hydrating foods during your picnic.

• Beverages – Bring a lot of water along and other beverages (such as coconut water and juice) to help stay hydrated.

• Food items – there is a reason watermelon is a picnic favorite! A recent study found that the combination of salts, minerals and natural sugars in some fruits and vegetables can hydrate people more effectively than water. Watermelon topped the list along with cantaloupe, cucumbers, pears and even broccoli, all which help replenish your fluids. So keep these in mind (along with any dietary and digestive needs of your loved one) when planning your menu and snacks.

• Location, location, location!!! Scouting out and choosing the location for your picnic is an important part of enjoying shared good times with your loved one while staying safe.

• Easy access – Choose a location that is easy to get to.  Try to stay away from hills and uneven surfaces.  Be mindful of the mobility of your senior and plan accordingly – are they using a walker? A cane? A wheelchair?

• Where’s the restroom? – Having a restroom nearby is always a good idea.  People often need to ‘visit the loo’ more as they get older. You don’t want to have to make a mad dash to the car and down the road.

Hopefully, these tips will help you and your family, no matter what their age, enjoy spending time with some of the most important people in your life. Staying engaged with your family and friends can help build stronger bonds and foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging.

So dust off that blanket and wicker basket, grab some bug spray and have some fun!  And remember to be kind to your environment! Take along reusable dishes and flatware, take your trash with you and recycle!

Cecile Godfrey, Country Place Senior Living Regional Manager of Alabama. She is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator and a licensed Assisted Living Administrator with more than 35 years of experience.