Dear Donna:

My father has always loved nature and spending time outdoors. At 92, he’s still an avid outdoorsman. While I don’t want to squelch his enthusiasm, his safety is a big concern.

Dad is living with my husband and me and routinely heads outside on his own to birdwatch or walk through our woods. Do you have any tips for helping him stay independent but safe?


Stephanie in Traverse City, Michigan


Summer Safety and Older Adults


Dear Stephanie:

Good for your Dad! It’s likely that your father’s commitment to nature and physical activity keep him going strong at 92. Research shows a sedentary lifestyle can lead to early mortality. Some even say it’s as bad as smoking. But your concern for your father’s safety is understandable.

Here are a few suggestions to keep him healthy while providing peace of mind:

  • Provide sunscreen: Most of your father’s generation grew up not wearing sunscreen, so it’s essential to remind him to apply it. Sprays might be easier for him to manage on his own. Review these tips with your dad to highlight how important sunscreen is.
  • Stay on guard for ticks: As every outdoorsman knows, ticks make their return to Michigan woods and fields during warm months. A quality bug spray might help repel ticks. Also help your dad check his hair, body, and clothing for ticks when he comes back inside.
  • Encourage hydration: As we all know, Michigan summers can be hot and humid, even as far north as Traverse City. Make it easy for your dad to stay hydrated by keeping reusable water bottles filled and chilled in the refrigerator. Your dad can grab one on his way out the door. If he doesn’t like water, try adding lemon or berries for flavor.
  • Invest in quality footwear: While good footwear is important at every age, older adults should make it a high priority. Weaker ankles and unsteadiness caused by medications can be worse on uneven ground. Falls are the leading cause of serious injury among seniors. Help your father find a pair of shoes with good ankle support and strong soles.

One final suggestion is purchasing an emergency alert device for your father. There are a variety on the market and many are very discreet. They look like a sports watch but allow the wearer to call for help with the touch of a button. Most work off cellular technology that allows an active older adult like your dad to remain safe on the go.

I hope this information helps, Stephanie! And that you and your dad enjoy the rest of the summer.

Kind regards,



Heritage Senior Communities


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