When older adults are included in group celebrations like 4th of July, they feel engaged in life and connected with family and friends. But some traditional activities might not be well-suited for seniors.
Often family members come to us at our various independent living, assisted living, and memory care communities to ask how is the best way to incorporate their loved one into the festivities around the 4th of July. We’ve taken the opportunity to gather up multiple ideas for adapting those traditional activities so that older adults can join in the fun all the while remaining comfortable and calm, thus enjoying time with family and friends.
Activities for seniors who enjoy going out
Many seniors still enjoy traditional celebrations like going to a relative or friend’s house for a lively barbecue. Others love to see live fireworks in the evening. We all enjoy having our extended family over during these precious holidays, and there is no need to exclude your loved ones, just a few adaptations can make this enjoyable for all.
6 ways to make these activities senior-friendly:
- Limit direct sun exposure by seating them in a cool and shady spot.
- Bring a light jacket or blanket to keep them warm at night.
- Standing is tiring. Make sure they always have a comfortable seat that supports their back. Bring a cushion, portable chair, or wheelchair if needed.
- Bring their favorite beverages and frequently encourage them to drink so they’ll stay hydrated.
- Take regular bathroom breaks to reduce or eliminate the chance of an accident.
- For seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia, limit the time spent at large gatherings to reduce the chance they’ll get agitated, anxious, or angry.
Activities for seniors who prefer to stay in
Many older adults aren’t able to leave home anymore, but would still enjoy participating in holiday celebrations. A wonderful way to enjoy the 4th of July is to bring the festivities to them! Often times our residents that have a difficult time getting out of the community for long periods of time will join in the multiple programs offered at the community, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still be involved. Come join in the festivities, or bring some special programs to them for that special family time.
5 great group activities
- Throw a backyard barbecue at their house. Your senior loved one can participate when they want or just people-watch. This lets them join the fun, but keeps them from getting overtired or overstimulated, especially important for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia..
- Have a patriotic sing-a-long! Play a karaoke soundtrack from your computer or mobile device – try America the Beautiful, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, This Land is Your Land, or Yankee Doodle Boy
- Ooh and ahh together while watching the fireworks broadcast on TV, or outside in the neighborhood if your state allows.
- Watch a fun, lighthearted movie classic – like Singin’ in the Rain.
- Play simple card games or classic board games.
4 ways to have fun with food
Involve your older adult in cooking and food preparation as much as they’re able and willing. It’s another way to feel like they’re contributing and are included in the group.
- Make traditional foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, and coleslaw.
- Prepare a simple patriotic dessert — try one of these Jello recipes or these colorful fruit skewers.
- Involve them in fruit or veggie preparation or ask them to assemble prepared salad ingredients in a big bowl.
- Organize an ice cream social. You could even make it a sundae bar by including a variety of toppings.
1 way to get crafty
Create paper flags and other decorations to hang everywhere! Try a fun star wreath, or other classics that your loved one enjoys.
There are many creative ways to adapt 4th of July activities to meet your senior’s needs. The most important thing is to stay relaxed and go with the flow. Focus on helping older adults feel included and creating positive memories for the whole family.