14 Tips for an Elderly-Friendly Fourth of July

By June Fletcher, AgingCare.com editor-in-chief

Almost everyone looks forward to gathering with family and friends for a backyard barbecue. But if you’ve been dreading going to one because of your responsibilities as a caregiver, never fear: Both you and your elderly loved one can have a fine time, if you plan ahead.

But first, make sure that your relative is in good enough health to attend a party where there will be heat, bugs, noise, smoke from the grill and possibly rambunctious children. Also, check with your hosts to ensure that they understand and can accommodate your loved one’s limitations. If not, find another caregiver to look after your relative while you attend alone; it’s important for you to socialize and recharge.

However, if your hosts are amenable and your loved one is up to it, don’t leave him or her behind. Joan Wright, a certified geriatric manager at NVNA and Hospice in Norwell, Mass., told AgingCare.com that you should remember that every elderly person was once young, mobile and eager to socialize. “Those desires are still there even if their physical capacity to fulfill them is not.”

Here are some tips from Ms. Wright and others to ensure that everyone has a good time:

Before the barbecue

–Talk to the host or hostess about dietary limitations your elderly relative may have. If the menu is too spicy, fatty or hard to chew, plan to bring some food that the senior can eat, and request that the meal be served at the same time as everyone else’s.

What to Serve Seniors at a Cookout

–Find out what sort of seating the hosts will have for guests. If they just have backless picnic benches, which can be difficult for an elderly person to sit on and provide no back support, ask if you can bring a folding chair or stackable plastic chair.

–If your relative is in a wheelchair, find out in advance if your hosts’ gates are wide enough and slopes gentle enough to maneuver it into the back yard.

–Ask if there’s any shade in the backyard; if not, ask if you can also bring a portable beach umbrella.

–Lay out comfortable clothes that include layers, since some seniors feel cold even when it’s warm out. Include sturdy shoes to prevent falls and trips.

–Before you go, make sure that the senior has put on some sunscreen.

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14 Tips to Make the Fourth Fun For You and Elderly Loved Ones originally appeared on AgingCare.com

At the barbecue

–Set up a spot for your relative away from the hot grill and any areas where children are likely to be throwing balls or rough-housing.

–Find out the location of the closest bathroom, and if accidents could be a problem, seat the senior near it. If your relative needs assistance using the restroom, you might want to arrange a discreet hand sign or code word between you so you can excuse yourself to help without embarrassing him or her.

–If your relative can’t get around much but is sociable, bring other partygoers over for brief chats.

–Since dehydration can be a problem with elderly people, make sure that a glass of water is always at hand. Avoid alcoholic beverages, which are not only dehydrating but also can conflict with medications.

–If you must cut some meat off a bone or corn off of a cob, do it in the kitchen and then bring the plate to the senior. Cutting up food in front of other partygoers puts the senior in an embarrassing, child-like position.

–If your relative can’t get around much but is sociable, bring other partygoers over for brief chats. And ask other family members or friends to sit down with the senior from time to time so you can mingle, too.

–If your loved one can’t communicate well, bring headphones, a CD player and some music. He or she will be able to enjoy being around others without being under pressure to talk.

–Watch your loved one for signs of restlessness, overheating or other distress, and be prepared to leave before the festivities end.

Read More:
14 Cookout Tips for Your Summer Get Together
Swinging Summer Temperatures May Put Your Health at Risk
Growing Connections: Gardening with Family and Friends

14 Tips to Make the Fourth Fun For You and Elderly Loved Ones originally appeared on AgingCare.com


Duane B.
.6 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Winn Adams
Winn A7 years ago


Akin Adelakun
Akin Adelakun7 years ago

Thanks for this article.

Abbe A.
Azaima A7 years ago

very considerate

Juliet D.
judith sanders7 years ago

I saw two seniors medically evacuated from a graduation ceremony on June 18th. It was 'only' about 85 degrees. Direct sun, sitting on picnic benches or bleachers, a unexpected walk up stairs or a hill, all these things can be rough on a senior who appears to be just fine when they're in their own home. For example, my Dad requires a bathroom with a ledge or shelf where he can deal with ostomy materials; a port-a-potty is a no-go. Tell the senior beforehand *exactly* what weather conditions, terrain, bathroom and rest facilities will be available. No surprises!

Ira M.
Ira M7 years ago

Thank you!

Laurie D.
Laurie D7 years ago

As an inadvertent senior, I thank you for your consideration!

Maureen L.
Maureen Leibich7 years ago

As an elderly person--although I am still able to take care of myself in these situations, someday I might not be--I am glad to see people taking note of the special circumstances we are in at times. I especially like the hints about not embarrassing the senior. Thank you.

Danuta W.
Danuta W7 years ago

Thank you so much

Jennifer C.
Past Member 7 years ago

Interesting article. Thanks for sharing.