5 Ways to Bring Summer Inside for a Homebound Senior
Summer is in full swing in the Milwaukee area, and the warmer weather and plentiful sunshine have definitely arrived at our New Berlin, Muskego, and Brookfield campuses as well.
As we begin to fully embrace the summer season, it’s important to be mindful of the seniors in our lives whose abilities or lifestyles may prevent them from fully enjoying the summer weather, whether due to limited mobility, home-boundness, or physical impairments that make it difficult to get or stay outside.
So, we’ve compiled a few small and simple ways caregivers or loved ones of seniors can bring the outdoors in and make a senior’s summer days feel as easy and breezy as anyone else’s. Just don’t forget the sunscreen and a water bottle!
1. Bring Indoor Activities Outdoors
One of the easiest ways to bring some summer to a senior’s day-to-day life is to take the daily activities he or she does indoors–reading, watching television, painting, socializing, playing cards, stretching, or eating—to the outdoors.
Whether on a patio, in the yard, or at a public park, simply being outside and soaking up the sun, breeze, and blue sky can make a positive impact on mental and physical health.
Even if there’s no greenspace available near home, a comfortable chair next to an open window or door can work wonders.
2. Stay Active
If a person does not already have a lineup of favorite physical activities, find a few they are comfortable doing, both physically and mentally, and engage in them together.
Depending on mobility and interest level, these could be walking/speed walking, weight lifting, chair exercises, racquet sports like badminton, yoga/Pilates, stretching, swimming, or anything else that suits a senior’s needs.
Even if this just means a brief walk around senior care community’s sunlit hallways, staying active with low-impact activities can go a long way toward a positive mental outlook and a sense of productivity or accomplishment.
3. Update Home Décor
First off, open those windows! This will help alleviate any potential stale smells or feelings, help get a pleasant cross-breeze going, and let in the summer sounds—such as kids playing outside. Then, hang some fresh curtains over those open windows. Ensure they are sheer or linen so they will give a room a lighter, breezier feel.
A way to majorly upgrade the décor is to bring in some summery art or décor items, such as bowls of fruit (real or artificial), beach-inspired items with nautical themes (anchors, fish, paddles, flip flops, beach balls, etc.), fresh and festive tableware or cutlery, small plants and trees (real or artificial), or throw pillows and blankets in vibrant, tropical-inspired patterns.
In general, aim to find décor in either bright or pastel colors, wooden items in lighter stains or paint colors, lightweight furniture that isn’t “visually heavy,” and anything that reminds you of sunny days and warm weather.
4. Plant Something!
Nothing shouts “summer” like flowers blooming and fruits and vegetables thriving!
Pick up some already-blossoming, easy-care flowers such as pansies, zinnias, impatiens, or daffodils from a garden store, plus a planter and some plant food. All your loved one will have to do it keep them in a relatively sunny spot and occasionally water them when the soil runs dry.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs—among many other fruits and vegetables—are all also notoriously easy to care for and take up minimal space in a garden or on a patio. Both tomato and cucumber plants can grow vertically and can do so on a trellis leaned against a wall. Fresh herbs like basil, mint, or thyme can even be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill.
The plants and vegetables will be colorful and beautiful to look at, plus they’re a great healthy addition to any meal.
5. Summer-ize Daily Menus
Speaking of healthy meals…take those veggies and herbs from the garden, terrace, or trellis and use them to inspire a fresh, summery menu. Or, simply buy up some seasonal ingredients so the senior in your life can enjoy the bounty of fruits, vegetables, and lighter fare that summer brings.
Focus on those seasonal ingredients and look for recipes that are a little lighter and have some pops of color, like a classic greens-and-veggie salad with an oil-based dressing, a cold pasta salad, lighter or vegetarian sandwiches, or a lighter, plant-based takes on classic dishes, such as pasta primavera using zucchini noodles or lasagna made with fresh eggplant and herbs.
From meals to physical activities to home décor, there are plenty of quick and easy ways to shake things up for the senior in your life—it just takes a little planning and a few hours of your time.
Any way you do it, the most important thing is taking time from our busy summer schedules to make sure the people in our lives are happy, healthy, and comfortable, especially if they are homebound or live in a senior care community.