Enjoy Summer's Pleasures with Your Loved One
By Lisa M. Petsche
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Many people consider summer to be a time of living lighter and being relatively carefree. The mild temperatures and increased daylight positively affect their mood and allow more time for outdoor activities, they dress lighter, driving conditions are better and they go on vacation, experiencing a change of scenery and pace.
If you are caring for someone with a chronic illness, it may not be possible to completely kick back. However, there are many things you can do, together with your loved one, to enjoy summer’s many pleasures.
Refresh the décor
Decorating to reflect the season can help put you in a lighter frame of mind. Here’s how to do it:
- Bring in flowers from your garden and display them around your home.
- Accessorize indoors with light, bright colors. Room accents can take the form of cushion covers, tablecloths, place mats or a mantel scarf, for instance. For color inspiration, think summer flowers and tropical fruits. Don’t overlook white, which gives a crisp, fresh look. For patterns, try florals and gingham checks.
- Choose ocean blues and greens for a psychological cooling effect.
- Marine themes are always popular at this time of year. Bring out that collection of seashells and display them in a bowl.
- Summer is a good time to be whimsical - have some fun with decorating.
Make the outdoors great
Here are some ideas for creating a welcoming outdoor space:
- Set up a bird feeder, install a pond or other water feature or create a butterfly garden so you can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature in your own backyard.
- Get a set of patio furniture. Include an umbrella to shade you from the hot summer sun. If you already own outdoor furniture, replace worn chair pads for a new look (and to increase seating comfort).
- Buy some colorful acrylic dishes for outdoor meals.
- String miniature white lights around the porch, deck or backyard fence.
Indulge a little
- Buy toiletries in a favorite summer scent, such as lily of the valley or peach.
- Grill your favorite meats and vegetables on the barbecue. Try some new marinades or salad dressings, for variety.
- Stock up on refreshing drinks, such as lemonade and iced tea, or the necessary ingredients to make your own, if you prefer.
- Buy a box of favorite ice cream treats the next time you’re at the grocery store. Or head out to the local dairy for an ice cream cone, sundae, milkshake or float.
- Purchase something seasonal to enjoy – for example, wind chimes, a hanging plant, decorative flower pots, solar garden accents, an attractive privacy trellis or a lounge chair and side table. An addition to your summer wardrobe is another great idea. Shop by mail order if it’s hard to get out to the mall.
- Invest in some satiny smooth bed sheets.
- Buy votive candles in floral or fruit scents and place them in decorative holders.
- If you don't have central air conditioning, get a window air conditioner or oscillating fan for the room(s) you use most. Keeping cool will help to prevent irritability.
Ideas for activities
- Look through photo albums or watch home movies from summers past.
- Have a picnic in your backyard or a nearby park.
- Go for a stroll around the neighborhood.
- Plan an outing to a cultural or sporting event, such as a baseball game, summer arts festival or outdoor concert. If your relative uses a wheelchair, investigate accessible taxi options or register him or her with the local accessible transportation service.
- Go to a park or other outdoor public space and people-watch.
- Go to the local farmers' market and marvel at the offerings. Pick up a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as favorite meat, cheeses and baked goods.
- Take a drive in the country.
- Don’t pass up an opportunity for a vacation. Even if your relative relies on a wheelchair to get around, travel may still be possible with some research and planning to ensure his or her needs are met during every stage of the trip.
Lisa M. Petsche is a medical social worker and a freelance writer specializing in health and elder care issues.