How to Have a Successful Summer Cookout with Seniors

Jun 29, 2011, 13:00 ET from

NAPLES, Fla., June 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Summer cookouts are meant for family fun. But what if your guest list includes an elderly person?

Heat, noise, bugs and rambunctious children—as well as dietary no-nos like fatty foods and beer—are all problems for seniors, as well as for their hosts and their caregivers. But these and other problems can be avoided or minimized with a little advance planning., the premier website for caregivers to the elderly, talked to experts, including a chef, a nurse, a dietician and a geriatric manager, to find out what hosts should and shouldn't serve at a backyard barbecue, as well as ways for hosts and caregivers to ensure that everyone has a happy, healthy time.

Among their tips:

  • Avoid foods that are too spicy, fatty or hard to chew, but be sure to include some familiar "comfort" foods like macaroni and low-fat cheese.  A salad bar where guests can choose among healthy items is another good option.
  • Don't serve the senior alcohol in any form. It is dehydrating, which can be deadly for an elderly person.
  • Backless picnic benches can be difficult for an elderly person to sit on, so provide a folding chair or stackable plastic chair.
  • If there's no shade in the backyard, bring out a portable beach umbrella.
  • Set up a spot away from the hot grill and any areas where children are likely to be throwing balls or rough-housing.  If the elderly person has mobility problems, position it close to a bathroom.
  • If the elderly person can't get around much but is sociable, bring other partygoers over for brief chats.  But if the senior has trouble communicating, bring headphones, a CD player and some music, so he or she will be able to enjoy being around others without being under pressure to talk. 
  • If you must cut some meat off a bone or corn off of a cob, do it in the kitchen and then bring the plate to the senior. Cutting up food in front of other partygoers puts the senior in an embarrassing, child-like position.
  • Watch the senior for signs of restlessness, overheating or other distress.

For more information and tips, go to:

What to Serve Seniors at a Cookout

Caregivers at a cookout: 14 Tips to Ensure a Good Time

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