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Spending Time Outdoors with Your Care Receiver

As caregivers we love working with our patients to encourage positive engagement in the outside world. Time in the sunlight and fresh air is revitalizing to us all, especially to patients that often spend most, if not all, of their time confined indoors. 

When an elderly individual can no longer experience the outdoors regularly, participating in activities that once sustained their energy – like gardening or working on projects outside – caregivers can get creative with ways to get their care receivers outside.

Now that COVID-19 has made social distancing the norm, it’s more important than ever that caregivers provide a safe, healthy space that our elderly may experience the outdoors.

Here are some (socially distant) ideas you and your loved one can do together outside, on the porch, your patio or even in a park. 

Gardening, Plant Care, or Enjoying the Natural World

If your care receiver was ever interested in plants and gardening, but no longer spends active time outside, you can adapt gardening + plant care to their ability.

  • Plant some vegetables or flowers in pots on the patio together
  • Bring a potted plant and some pruning shears, allowing your loved one to trim the plant
  • Bring some fresh or artificial flowers and a plastic vase or container. Allow your loved one to create a floral arrangement.

If your patient is unable to actively participate, even watching you do the work may bring them some refreshing energy. If they are unable to participate in any activity, you can always pull out a colorful book about plants or gardening. Flip through the pages with your patient to enjoy the plants and arrangements. 

Working on Projects

If your care receiver was more of a “nuts and bolts” type of person when they were younger, you can easily offer some projects to keep their hands busy while you sit on the patio. 

  • Set up a toolbox full of screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, etc. Allow the patient to sort through the toolbox and organize it.
  • Get some nuts and bolts and a pegboard. 
  • Put a Padlock and a few sets of keys – let them find the key that fits the lock. 
  • If they worked with plumbing, get some PVC for them to build connections 
  • Organize Loose change and/or nuts and bolts on a cookie sheet with a raised ledge.

If nothing else engages your patient, they may simply enjoy sightseeing and looking around. Encourage your patient to come outside and bring a bird or flower book full of bright pictures. Binoculars to spy on the animals or flowers.

Hydrating while Outside

In elder care, hydration is important, and often our elderly loved ones do not want to drink water. If you have trouble hydrating your patient, other caregivers have found that the tint of decaf iced tea or electrolyte powder will help an elderly individual see that their glass is full and inspire them to drink more liquid. Ensure you are providing proper hydration by having a “tea party” – providing iced tea, glasses with ice, and a snack. Make drinking tea outside an activity that your patient looks forward to, along with some activities suggested above. 

Often changing their environment may change the attitude of your care receiver and inspire them to drink more water and enjoy some of the benefits of being outside in fresh air.

Ready to head outside?

For additional creative ideas, check out this video about Outdoor Activities from Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center! To connect with your local CRC, click here.

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