Take Steps To Celebrate Independence Day With Your Elderly Loved Ones

Tim Watt  |  July 3, 2013

There are few greater causes for celebration than the arrival of the Fourth of July. As America's birthday, it's one of the few holidays that are unique only to the U.S. and it's the perfect opportunity to spend time with friends and family, enjoying the summer weather, food and fireworks. Celebrating Independence Day may not always be easy for older adults living in retirement communities who have limited mobility and might not be able to head out to the local parade or fireworks display. However, family caregivers can take the right steps to bring the holiday to their loved ones and honor the country's independence in style.

Menu modifications
There are a few staples of the Fourth of July, and traditional cookout items such as burgers and hot dogs are among them. While such fare may be OK for the younger population, that's not always the case for seniors with potential dietary restrictions. Not only can certain foods have harmful interactions with their medications - the FDA notes pineapple juice can increase the side effects of some drugs, for instance - others can raise their risk of developing health problems. Slight changes to the July Fourth menu can yield considerable benefits. Substituting fruit salad for potato salad can be a good start, as can opting for heart-healthy fish instead of burgers.

Bring the celebration to them
While heading to the local parade or going out to see fireworks isn't a problem for some seniors, for others who may not be able to leave their assisted living community, such activities are often not an option. But this doesn't mean they still can't celebrate Independence Day, and family caregivers should make sure to still include them in the festivities by taking the party to them. There are plenty of senior-specific spins you can put on the traditional Fourth of July celebration. For instance, you could make red, white and blue desserts and snacks and host a patriotic movie night. "The Best Years of Our Lives," "1776," and "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" are all good choices.

Plan ahead
If your elderly loved one is able to make the trip to the family barbecue, it's important to plan well ahead of the event. Specifically, you should make sure he or she is wearing light, loose fitting clothing - the holiday is in the middle of summer, after all - and ensure he or she is in a place where they can get around easily if they have mobility problems.