Barbecues provide a great chance for seniors to socialize

Seniors need to socialize to avoid feeling lonely and left out.

They were young once and probably socialized a lot in days gone by. Those desires are still there even if their physical capacity to fulfil them is not. If a family member or close friend is having a backyard barbecue, why not bring your loved one along?

After you have convinced them to go and put a little thought and planning into this outing, you will both come away with some wonderful memories.

Keep in mind that these outdoor parties can involve heat, bugs, noise, smoke from the grill and possibly some loud, young children. Check with your hosts to see if their yard can accommodate access for a walker or wheelchair if needed. Also, ask about the menu to be sure that it will be appropriate for your loved one. If not, you can bring a separate dish especially for them.

Here are some things to check out before you go:

Inquire about the seating. Backless picnic benches might not work, so you could bring a comfortable lawn chair; if there is no shade in the back yard, you can bring a beach umbrella; know the location of the nearest bathroom and arrange to have a discreet hand signal from your loved one; be sure your guest is wearing comfortable clothes that include layers.

Some tips for when you are at the event:

When you arrive pick a good spot away from the hot grill, one that is conducive for people watching or a quick shuteye if needed.

A glass of water should always be within reach. The sun and heat can quickly dehydrate an older person.

Bring the conversation over to your mom or dad if they can’t get around very well. This will help them feel included. Just ask other people to come meet your parents for a quick chat.

If the meal itself needs to be adapted, do it in the kitchen to avoid any embarrassment to your loved one. You may have to separate the meat from the bone or cut the corn off the cob.

Be prepared that you may have to leave the function early. I know from experience when a senior is in distress, waiting one more hour will simply be too much for them to cope with.

Fresh air is so beneficial, especially for seniors who don’t get out much. A backyard barbeque is the perfect way to enjoy some good company and tasty food. It will be a memory you both will cherish for a long time.

Karla Reinhard lives in Qualicum Beach, where she explores seniors’ issues and personalities in the area. For story tips or questions, she can be reached at

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