Karen McPhail, RN, MSN
Happy 4th! Considerations for Seniors on the Holiday!
Just like any holiday we want to ensure that the seniors in our lives feel as if they are being involved, active, and participating fully! Drawing on family traditions and forming new one's will help to keep things fun and festive for all!
Including seniors in in the prep and planning will help them to feel fulfilled and give them purpose, as we all need purpose at any stage in our lives!
The 4th of July is generally filled with outdoor activities which can be tough for seniors on a hot and humid day. If you are having a barbecue or outdoor party ensure that you prepare well to accommodate all needs. Have sunscreen on hand, some large festive hats to keep the sun away and sunglasses, have outdoor fans, and umbrellas or tents for added sun coverage and shading. Offer not just water, but smart water and other electrolyte based beverages. Try to limit caffeinated drinks and alcohol consumption which can be dehydrating and cause other potential issues. :) Try to have comfortable seating that offers the opportunity to elevate legs / feet as heat can lead to swelling. Provide opportunities for seniors to have easy access to air condition throughout The key is to limit time in the heat and sun and to stay hydrated. Encourage bathroom breaks throughout as this is an easy way to gauge proper hydration.
If your family member has cognitive impairments celebrate earlier in the day and for a shorter period of time so that they can have an afternoon rest period and fatigue is limited - which can lead to pm issues. Try to ensure that they stay on their schedule also which is always important.
For all, keeping things on their terms will be important so that everyone can enjoy the holiday! Be flexible and do not set a firm schedule for the day so that no one is disappointed! For example everyone may want to go in the evening to see the fireworks, but this may not be realistic for the seniors in the group. Pre plan for this so that the seniors do not feel bad and try to over extend themselves in an unsafe manner. Have a special, fun group fireworks party planned at home for some to watch the fireworks with them on television, while perhaps others attend on site. Make it festive and special and allow them to take the lead if possible in planning. Keep things special, give them purpose, and be realistic with expectations!
Pre plan, relax and enjoy the holiday as having everyone be able to participate fully and on their terms will lead to positive memories and experiences!