The summer brings with it better weather, better attitudes and people smile more. But for older people it can be a tricky time. The heat of the sun makes dehydration more likely, and sunburn is a nightmare, no matter how old you are.
If you're wondering how you can spend more time with your older relatives, while entertaining your toddlers and kids at the same time, we've got a few ideas up our sleeves to help with that.
1. Take a relaxing morning walk
Walking out into the sunshine is a guaranteed lift for anyone. And if your loved older person isn't too steady on their feet, a trip out in a wheelchair can do almost as much good. The trick is getting out early to avoid the strongest sun and heat, and it doesn't have to be a long walk, just a wander down the street will do wonders.
Not only will the exercise increase the happy hormones in your relative's body, resulting in a more cheerful frame of mind, but just being in the sunshine and getting a bit of essential vitamin D will improve their health a little.
Make sure you take and use sunblock and that everyone wears a hat.
If you're going off with a wheelchair, you might want to first check out local walks that are designed for wheelchair users, such as round a municipal park or lake, rather than across countryside or in the woods.
2. Make some memories with a lovely family day out
Days out don't need to be long-drawn-out affairs. You can take a visit to a local museum or art gallery (preferably with a café nearby) within a couple of hours. Older people get tired quickly, so it's best to do an activity you can see an end to, rather than one that could potentially go on for hours.
If you're worried your relative won't make it round the whole show - museums can be huge, after all - check with the place first to make sure they have good accessibility for disabled and wheelchair access. They may even have in-house wheelchairs and supports to offer tired visitors.
3. Head for a country show
If you live somewhere relatively rural, you may know of a local agricultural or country show taking place in the summer. These places buzz with happy people of all ages, hundreds of beautiful, well-kept animals, and the chance to meet interesting people from a different walk of life. There's something wonderful about being able to pet a prize ram or bull, and it's a memory that won't be forgotten quickly.
4. Square dancing isn't for squares!
Dancing is known to be one of the best ever types of exercise, so if your older relative has ever danced, or just wants to hear some music from a different time, a local dancing club might be the answer. Usually held early in the evening, these groups are welcoming and jokey, and are thrilled to teach the steps, so if your parents or other family members are interested, they'll be welcome to sit, listen, and watch, or take part if the music takes hold.
Additionally, some day care centres offer dancing as a class, sometimes in the afternoons, or at set times of the week or month, so why not see if you can track one down to help.
5. Hydrotherapy and water aerobics
Not as energetic as it sounds, hydrotherapy and aqua aerobics are great ways to take gentle exercise. Water helps to work on all the muscles right through the body, so if they go regularly, your relative will find they feel looser and more fit quite quickly.
Swimmers have the advantage of course, but you don't need to be a strong swimmer to take part in these activities. In addition, if your relative was always a swimmer anyway, they'll still be able to put some lengths in, even if their general mobility is not so good on land. The buoyancy of water is incredibly good for our movements and joints, so come on in, the water's warm!
6. Green fingers can still find something to do
Come summer time, every gardener itches to get outside, and for less mobile older people who used to spend all their time in their allotment or garden, it can be a really frustrating time.
But if they can't go to the garden, why not bring the garden to them? Potting bulbs and growing plants, and giving advice on budding gardeners' efforts, can be lovely ways for your older relatives to find themselves again. There's no need to worry about mess - a flat table and lots of newspaper will probably cover the main mess, and a quick vacuum-up afterwards should sort out the bigger issues.
7. Hang out with the kids in the garden or at the park
Everyone likes ice cream, right? Your older relatives probably love to be around your kids, so why not bring everyone together for a day out at the park? Kite flying can be fun, even if you're only watching, and ice cream is readily available. And then there's the essential stop-off at the nearby café for cake and tea. A lovely time for everyone, and a real chance to get all the generations together.
Take your time, and make sure you enjoy these days out and activities and remember to stay hydrated. You'll make strong memories for you and your kids, and the shared experiences will increase the family bonds. Summer is one of the only times that it's easier for everyone to get together, so why not make the most of it and the time you have together?