We all look forward to the warm summer months and the ability to get outside in the sun. Food is fresher, temperatures are warmer and life seems a bit more relaxed. These are all things that can make caring for a senior better too. When it’s easier to get outside and fresh foods are easily available, health improves. Here are three ways that summer can improve elder care for you and your loved one.
1. Fresh food: Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy body and mind. In some areas of the country, it can be challenging to find fresh produce that has flavor in the winter months. However, in the summer there are endless possibilities. Not only can you buy fresh produce at the grocery store, but you probably have easy access to farm stands. The closer food is grown to you the healthier it is for you.
If your loved one hesitates to eat fresh produce, take him or her with you to the farm stand. Pick out the fruits and vegetables you want to eat and talk about what you will cook with them when you return home. A simple excursion like this includes many wonderful elements that can foster conversation and engage your loved one in the process of buying, cooking and eating healthy food.
2. Fresh air: Summertime is a perfect season to spend lots of time outdoors. You can take your loved one outside for a walk or sit in the shade. Flowers abound and driving to view gardens is a nice road trip. Encourage your loved one to take deep breaths while sitting outside. It will expand his or her lungs and stimulate the flow of fresh oxygen into the blood, heart, and brain.
Walking is a great way to breath in the fresh air. In the summer you can take short walks with your loved one up and down the driveway or around the yard. Even if he or she uses a cane or a walker, walking will be of great benefit. It loosens joints and strengthens muscles, ligaments, and tendons; all important to improving balance and preventing the falls that are a major cause of hospitalization for seniors.
3. Sunshine and Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential for our bodies and the sun is the main source of it. Our bodies need vitamin D in order to absorb the calcium that makes our bones strong and promotes bone growth. There are some indications that vitamin D also helps to prevent depression, chronic pain, and osteoporosis.
Summer gives you the ability to sit in the sun with your loved one. Choose the early morning hours before 11 am and afternoon hours after 3 pm. These are the hours when the sun is least dangerous. Always wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats when you sit in the sun. The warmth of the summer sun will improve the mood and overall sense of well-being for your loved one.
Summer also makes it easy to take your loved one out for a ride to enjoy the weather, trees, and flowers. It is safer for them to walk and you don’t have to worry about them slipping and falling on ice and snow.
Read the local newspaper for free events that are being held throughout the summer months and take your loved one to them. Even if he or she can’t walk a great distance they can sit and enjoy the people, the sights and live music when it is part of an event.