After a stressful year, we could all use some time away to relax and recharge. For caregivers and older adults alike, a staycation may be just what the doctor ordered.
With COVID-19 still a concern, home remains one of the safer places for older adults, some of whom may have compromised immune systems or have yet to receive the vaccine. Planning activities or a getaway close to home is a cost-efficient and safe way to explore new things and connect.
“We’ve all spent more time at home than anywhere else this year and could use a mental getaway to help cope with life’s stressors,” says Lakelyn Hogan, Ph.D., Home Instead gerontologist and caregiver advocate. “But as we continue taking the necessary safety measures, staying close to home this season can be just as enjoyable as any trip, allowing you to safely spend quality time with loved ones.”
Older Adults Feel Effects of Isolation
As one of the more disproportionately impacted populations, older adults have sheltered safely at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while many found silver linings during this time–like learning a new skill, mastering technology or even perfecting their favorite recipe–being isolated from neighbors and family has had an immense impact on older adults’ mental well-being.
In fact, according to a report from the AARP Foundation and United Health Foundation, more than six in 10 adults age 50 and older reported experiencing social isolation since the pandemic began.
Staycation Ideas for Older Adults
Planning a staycation can be the perfect way to refresh and recharge without breaking the bank. Even something small like a virtual trip with family can positively affect older adults’ mental health. Aging adults and their loved ones can experience these activities together:
- Bring the vacation home. Through the wonders of technology, older adults can travel the world from their own living room by taking virtual tours of museums, national parks, and zoos. Take a remote trip one step further by getting immersed in a new culture and re-creating a getaway experience at home through food, music, decorations and more.
- Be a tourist in your community. Explore local attractions or great places in the neighborhood. Sometimes it’s easy to forget your city’s hidden gems, so now is a chance to discover something new and help support the local economy. Remember to take precautions like wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing.
- Share favorite vacation memories with loved ones. Take a trip down memory lane and share favorite vacation memories with family and friends. Older adults may enjoy putting together a virtual scrap book; it’s a great conversation starter and way to reminisce about the exciting and happy times. Swapping stories with others may even result in new ideas for future vacations.
- Take advantage of the warmer weather. Getting outside has many mental and physical health advantages, even just sitting outdoors and soaking up vitamin D can be beneficial. Plan a day at the park or take a stroll around the neighborhood to spend some much-needed time outdoors. If walks or trips to attractions aren’t possible because of mobility issues, a visit to the porch or patio can be a great alternative. Get family members involved by pitching a tent in the backyard for a night under the stars.
- Plan for future trips. Take the time to plan a future trip and consider places and destinations to visit when it is safer and more feasible. Planning a vacation can help lift spirits and adding a trip to the calendar gives older adults something to look forward to.
While following safety precautions remains necessary, older adults can and should still make plans to give themselves a chance to relax and reconnect. Whether it be a trip to the park or enjoying virtual adventures from the comfort of their couch, older adults can plan fun activities that help maintain good mental and emotional health.
For more staycation ideas and what to consider when planning activities with a loved one, watch this Facebook Live.