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How to Spend Time With Your Aging Parents in Chicago During the Summer Months

Summers in Chicago are hot, beautiful, and a relief after our long cold winters. For most people, summer is a time to get outside to enjoy the weather and pursue fun outdoor activities, but it can be difficult for older adults to safely do so. If you’re looking for ways to get your aging parents outside in the Chicago area this summer, here are some tips to keep everyone safe and healthy as well as some ideas for what to do.

Summer Safety Tips for Older Adults

Seniors are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses than younger people, so it’s important to prioritize their safety when planning an outdoor activity, especially during the hottest parts of the summer. Keep these safety considerations in mind as you plan your summer activities:

  • Check the weather forecast – Know the forecast before you take your aging parents outside. Be sure to check the “feels like” temperature too, as it can be substantially higher than the actual air temperature due to factors like humidity and dew point.
  • Stay hydrated – Ensure that your aging parents drink plenty of water—even more so than usual if they are outside during the hottest part of the day or if physical exercise is involved.
  • Stay cool – During periods of extreme heat, choose your activity wisely. You might plan a fun indoor activity in an air-conditioned space (for instance, going to see a movie in a theater with AC) or go swimming, either indoors or at a refreshing outdoor pool.
  • Dress appropriately – Ensure that your parents are dressed in loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing made from breathable materials like cotton. Use hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to further protect them (and yourself) from the sun.
  • Know the side effects of medications – Your parents may be taking medications that make them more sensitive to the sun, so be sure to know these potential side effects before planning an outdoor activity.
  • Know the signs of heat-related illnesses – Dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion can cause symptoms like hot dry skin, disorientation, lethargy, headache, a flushed face, rapid pulse, dizziness, and so forth. If you notice your parents displaying any of those symptoms, get them to a cool place right away and seek medical attention.
  • Have emergency contacts available – Keep a list of emergency phone numbers easily accessible, whether that is your parents’ primary care physician, their caregiver team, their assisted living home, or someone else.

Fun Summer Activity Ideas

Just because your parents are getting older, it doesn’t mean they can’t still do fun summer activities! Many activities that they may have enjoyed when they were younger can be modified for safety, and there are always new things to try. Here are a few ideas for spending time with your aging parents this summer:

  • Plan a picnic or a cookout – This can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. You can opt to dine outside with a parent one-on-one or invite the whole family for an afternoon of fun.
  • Peruse a farmer’s market – Browsing at a farmer’s market is a great opportunity for light exercise, socializing, and sampling delicious fresh produce and other goodies—a win-win-win!
  • Attend Shakespeare in the Parks – These plays are put on at various parks around the city and are free for everyone.
  • Visit the Chicago Botanic Garden – Brighten your parents’ day by walking through stunning flowers or take a tram for a more relaxing experience. You can make a day out of it by checking out the exhibitions, dining out, and perusing the gift shop.
  • Catch an outdoor movie at Millennium Park – Be sure to bring some comfortable chairs and snacks.

For more information on caring for aging parents, we encourage you to explore our blog and other resources.

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