Fireworks, barbecues and parades—Fourth of July holiday weekends are typically packed with traditional celebrations like these. While they are often a great way for families to spend time together, some of these events may not be well-suited for seniors. This is especially true for those with dementia or a chronic health condition.
But including senior loved ones in your Independence Day celebrations is important. It allows them to stay connected to family members and reap the benefits of socializing. By being mindful of the challenges the older adults in your life face and planning to accommodate them, you can host a safe, enjoyable holiday celebration for all.
Independence Day Safety Tips for Outdoor Parties
A few ideas to make your Fourth of July activities senior friendly include:
- Be cautious of direct sun exposure: As we age, our skin becomes more delicate and susceptible to sunburn and sun poisoning. Seniors are often on medications that cause sun sensitivity or put them at higher risk for dehydration. So it’s important to make sure there is a comfortable, nicely shaded area for seniors to sit and enjoy the day.
- Provide quality sunscreen: Unlike younger generations, many older adults grew up not wearing sunscreen. It’s a habit they just haven’t acquired. But sunscreen is one of the best ways to prevent skin cancer, including the most dangerous form, melanoma. Make sure you provide sunscreen at your outdoor celebrations.
- Promote hydration: Drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated is another key to remaining healthy on hot summer days. Some medications commonly prescribed for older adults can contribute to dehydration. Make sure to stock plenty of cold, bottled water and other noncaffeinated drinks. Foods that hydrate, such as berries, cucumber, melon and leafy greens, can also help.
- Encourage sunglasses: While some of us are aware of the dangers of too much sun on the body, fewer realize how damaging it can be to our vision. Cataracts are one of several vision issues linked to the sun. If your senior loved one doesn’t already have quality sunglasses, make sure to invest in a pair before your party.
- Provide opportunities to rest: Seniors may have a different schedule than younger family members. Be sure they can enjoy their day with friends and family without overdoing it. If they won’t be spending the night with you, have someone available to drive them home, if necessary.
- Pay attention to dietary restrictions: As you are putting your menu together, it’s important to be mindful of special dietary needs, such as for high cholesterol or diabetes. Remember to include foods that accommodate the dietary requirements of any senior who will be attending.
If an older adult in your family has dementia or another health condition that makes it hard for them to cope with big crowds, one solution might be to plan a more modest indoor gathering.
Indoor Holiday Celebrations
While many seniors still enjoy the more traditional Fourth of July events, those that aren’t able to participate outside their home will appreciate your bringing the celebration indoors for them. Here are a few ideas to help you start planning:
- Host a small barbecue: Invite a few friends and family to your home and host a small, but classic, barbecue meal. To make it easier on yourself, ask guests to bring a dish to pass. Instead of having noisy fireworks that can be upsetting to people with dementia and some veterans, provide confetti poppers, bubbles and glow sticks. You can also create a playlist of patriotic songs that everyone can sing along with.
- Create patriotic crafts: Plan a crafts party with a patriotic theme, where guests can make crafts such as door hangers, wreaths, photo frames and patriotic puzzles. These activities are easy to adapt to different ages and abilities. You can include grandchildren in making themed goodies to serve, such as red, white and blue fruit kabobs or frosted sugar cookies shaped like stars and flags.
- Organize a game night: Who doesn’t love a little healthy competition? There are a variety of family-friendly, patriotic-themed games available online. You can divide into smaller groups with each one playing a different game, such as corn hole or ping pong, or split up into teams that compete against one another. Don’t forget to put up a few festive decorations and serve some tasty treats!
If you are looking for a few more ideas for planning a festive gathering, Fun in the Sun: The Best Summer Activities for Seniors is a good resource.
Tour a Senior Living Community Near You
Summer is also a great season to visit senior living communities and make a move. You’ll be able to take your time and consider all your options while still getting in and settled before the snow flies.
Whether you’re interested in exploring our independent living garden homes for yourself or touring an assisted living community for a parent, we invite you to schedule a visit to an American Senior Communities location near you