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Seniors often find it harder to tolerate hot temperatures or long hours in the sun. That’s because our body’s ability to regulate temperature declines as we age, making us more prone to dehydration and heat stroke. Following sun safety tips will help prevent the ill-effects of sun exposure. But when you’re planning to spend time outside with an older adult during the summer, you should also look for outdoor activities that limit direct exposure to the sun.

Try these ideas for outdoor summer activities that are enjoyable and safe for everyone:

Fishing – The best hours for fishing are first thing in the morning—conveniently also the coolest time of the day, before the sun is high in the sky. Set up a couple chairs on the dock and spend the early morning hours casting lines and sharing conversation. Fishing is also a summer activity that can be shared across generations, with seniors, their children, and their grandkids alike.

Gardening – Not only is gardening a low-impact way to move your body and spend time outside, it also has countless benefits for your body, mind, and soul. Gardening a few times per week reduces risk for numerous health conditions, reduces stress and elevates mood, improves balance, and supports a good night’s sleep.

Farmer’s Market – Filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, farmer’s markets are an ideal summer outing for seniors. Many markets set up stalls with tents and awnings, which help to limit sun exposure. Head out in the morning before temperatures reach their peak, and spend a couple hours walking around and browsing for the ripest finds.

Golfing – While some seniors remain active well into their 80s, most would benefit from taking a more low-impact approach to exercise. Playing a round of golf in the evening is a great way to engage in mild physical activity without pushing the limits. Because the game moves at a slower pace, it’s also a good opportunity for socializing.

Attend Community Events – Whether it’s the local fireworks show on the Fourth of July, movies outdoors in the park, or a family barbecue, attending community events is a great way for seniors to spend time outside while retaining close social ties. Feeling engaged in a community is essential for mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing for seniors.

It doesn’t matter if it’s family, friends, or a senior living community (or ideally, all three!), it’s important to stay connected. That’s why it’s so beneficial for seniors to get out of the house and not spend the whole summer cooped up inside avoiding the heat. Talk to your loved one about which outdoor summer activities they want to do and make plans for when you’ll get together to do them.

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Cultural stereotypes tend to paint aging in a negative light. “Senior moments” of forgetfulness, fumbling with new technology, and mishearing things are all familiar hallmarks of aging—at least as it’s portrayed in the media. Not only are such stereotypes patently untrue (according to data from Pew Research Center, 46% of seniors over 65 own a smartphone!), they also ignore the many benefits that come as a byproduct of collecting decades.

Recognizing the happy side-effects of growing older can help you embrace and lean into the aging process rather than fighting it. If you struggle with accepting “your number,” the following benefits of aging might help you shift your perspective.

Upsides of Aging That Make Growing Older a Privilege

Wisdom and Perspective

One of the few positive aging stereotypes is the elderly person who doesn’t suffer fools or foolishness—and isn’t quiet about it. By the time you reach a certain age, you’ve experienced enough and witnessed enough to know the difference between what matters and what doesn’t. That perspective frees you up to stop sweating the small stuff and instead devote your energy to the things that are most important to you.

Free Time

For decades, your life is full of work schedules, school schedules, after-school schedules, and social events. By the time you retire, your kids are out of the house and (hopefully) taking care of themselves. So when you remove work obligations, suddenly the only demands on your time are… whatever you want! This abundance of free time can be overwhelming at first, but it’s an amazing privilege. Use your newfound free time to go back to school, start an exercise routine (you’re never too old!), or pick up a new hobby.

Grandchildren

With grandchildren comes all the fun of parenting without the any of the downsides. You probably don’t miss disciplining your kids or arguing about bath time, but you might trade anything for one more chance to snuggle your now fully-grown children in your lap while reading them a bedtime story. Being a grandparent lets you revisit the joys of having kids—and the fun doesn’t stop when your grandkids start growing up.

To Live Longer, Embrace the Aging Process

Maintaining a positive outlook on aging isn’t just fluff. It can actually help you live longer. In a 2001 study, researchers from Yale and Harvard followed 660 participants between ages 50 and 80 for over 22 years to observe how self-perceptions of aging correlated with longevity. The participants who had a more positive attitude about the aging process lived, on average, 7.5 years longer. So figure out what “senior moments” make your life better and celebrate them every day.

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