8 Caregivers Share Their Tips For Spending Time Outdoors

Chad Birt

Written by Chad Birt on Mon May 22 2023.

Family walking in the park.

8 Caregivers Share Their Tips For Spending Time Outdoors

Some fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mood and outlook. But caring for a loved one with special needs or mobility issues can make it difficult to get outside. Thankfully, spending time outdoors is possible, it just takes some know-how and planning. 

We recently asked family caregivers to share some of their tips for spending time outdoors. Respondents provided some great ideas for a range of budgets and activity levels.

1) “My father is quadriplegic but also a great enthusiast of aircraft spotting. Each year I accompany him to several airshows around the country.”

Sometimes, the best thing about getting outside is the change of scenery. Your loved one doesn't have to be an aircraft enthusiast to benefit from sightseeing. Watching birds, flowers, or passing cars can be just as fun and relaxing.

2) “Go for a walk at a local park or nature area. Try choosing a location with a path that’s wide enough to walk side-by-side, so you can provide support and stability if mobility is a concern.” 

Choose paths and parks with seating whenever possible. Especially if your loved one uses a mobility device. Benches and rest areas can minimize long stretches of walking and provide opportunities for breaks. 

3) “Find somewhere where there is lots to see, like a pier or an amusement park, and spend some time either walking around or just sitting and taking in the views. It can be extra fun if there are things like food stands or a market nearby so that you can get some fun snacks and peruse!”

Many outdoor festivals, botanical gardens, and zoos offer reduced or free admission to people 65 and older. With so much to do and see, you can easily spend several hours keeping your loved one entertained.

4) “Go for a picnic! Pack a basket with some delicious snacks and drinks, find a nice spot in the park, and enjoy some quality time together while taking in the beauty of nature.”

If your loved one has difficulty swallowing, pureed meals or food and beverage thickeners can make mealtime even easier. 

5) “There are adaptive paddling and accessible kayaking experiences for people with disabilities. These programs provide the necessary equipment and trained staff to help individuals with limited mobility safely and comfortably enjoy kayaking and other water sports.” 

Adaptive paddling excursions use specialized watercraft designed for people with mobility issues. They have wider cockpits, lower centers of gravity, and stabilizing outriggers to ensure user safety. 

6) “Gardening is a low-impact activity perfect for any age. Planting flowers, veggies, or herbs is a terrific way to brighten up your outside space. If you don't have much room for gardening, you can always begin with potted plants on your porch, patio, or near your window.”

Caregiver Tip

Apply sunscreen to your loved one’s skin before going outdoors. Most dermatologists recommend sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

7) “Stargazing can be a peaceful and awe-inspiring experience that doesn't require a lot of physical activity. All you need is a clear night sky, a comfortable place to sit, and perhaps a guidebook or app to help you identify constellations and stars.”

Staring up at the sky is awe-inspiring, but it can be a literal pain in the neck. Make sure to take frequent breaks and pack a neck pillow.

8) “Backyard games can be a lot of fun for people who are still relatively mobile and independent. You might want to skip more intense sports, like volleyball, but mini golf, bocce ball, and croquet can be great options.”

There are specialized kayaks designed for people with disabilities, with features such as wider cockpits, lower center of gravity, and stabilizing outriggers. 

Get Outdoors and Make Memories

When was the last time you enjoyed the great outdoors? Getting into nature provides a break from the hustle and bustle of caregiving, relieves stress, and can even help you feel more grounded. Before you head out, pack a to-go bag with the best products to include in a caregiver’s first-aid kit. 

Have Questions? 

Unsure about what to pack on your next outdoor adventure to keep your loved one comfortable and safe? Our Caregiving Specialists can help! Call (800) 696-CARE or emailsupport@carewell.com and they’d be happy to help you find what you need.

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Chad Birt
Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.