5 ways to safely socialize this spring and summer

By Michele McGovern

Many older adults want to come out of their winter cocoons to safely socialize again. Is it possible?

Absolutely … as long as you stick to the key idea of safety. The pandemic still wears on, and not everyone is fully vaccinated. You might not face the same isolation as you did last spring. But this year’s socializing won’t be exactly like all the years before either.

Fortunately, older adults can safely socialize. Here are five ways to enjoy friends, family, activities and the outdoors in the coming months. And remember – you’ll want to be vaccinated to interact safely with friends and family outside your household. Otherwise, it’s still important to wear masks and maintain a safe distance.

Go to the park

City, county and other public parks offer scads of outdoor, safe social activities. Many have even started to create events and schedules geared toward older adults. For instance, the Lackawanna County Parks and Recreation team partnered with the Area Agency on Aging to create “Fridays in the Park.” Older adults can reserve a spot to participate in any activities they like, including yoga, lunch, art, bingo, yard games, walks, and pet therapy.

Check the websites for your local parks and recreation council, community centers or local Area Agency on Aging to find similar programs in your area.

Get back to nature

Recruit a buddy – friend, grandchild, son or daughter – and hit the great outdoors to fish, garden, hike or bird watch. They’re all safe, fun activities to participate in, offering fresh air, pleasant conversation and potential bragging rights!

You can find fishing access and trails suitable for older adults at most state parks or municipal outdoor areas. Just be sure to wear sturdy walking shoes, keep your cell phone handy and dress appropriately for the weather.

Dine al fresco

Just getting outdoors feels like a great escape from the winter doldrums and pandemic isolation. Even better might be sharing a meal with friends and/or family members now.

Again, you might consider your local parks and public recreation areas for planning a picnic. Reserve a pavilion, if necessary, or find a picnic table. Depending on your comfort level, you can make it a pot luck, with everyone bringing a dish to share or a BYOBB (bring your own brown bag!)

You might also consider dining with another person or a few at a local restaurant that offers outdoor dining options. You’ll likely need to make reservations as most places still have capacity restrictions.

Exercise outdoors

If you loved the gym or any kind group exercise class – and have missed the activity and camaraderie – you might like to try an outdoor class now. Some gyms, senior centers and local agencies have found outdoor space and created safe exercise classes.

Check in your area for outdoor exercise classes geared toward older adults such as yoga, stretching, strength training, biking and aerobics.

Visit museums and gardens

Some cultural and agricultural attractions are making more of their offerings available for outdoor experiences. Plus, places like the zoo, river walks and outdoor sculpture and art walks have always been popular and fun destinations.

You can do a Google search for “outdoor cultural activities” in your area to find what’s available. This site is a good resource in the greater Philadelphia area, too.

Whatever your interests, comfort level and abilities are, you can find ways to safely socialize as more and more people come out of the pandemic isolation.

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