Now, more than ever, we need summer—long, warm days, gardens in full bloom, and plenty of time to enjoy some fun activities with our social circles that will bring a sense of normalcy.

To help stay positive and engaged, as well as enjoy all the season has to offer, here is a blend of four indoor and outdoor activities you may consider doing for yourself or a loved one:

Start a “victory garden”

One of the ways Canadians are coping with COVID-19 is through gardening, a pastime that is deeply satisfying and offers several health benefits for seniors.*

Older adults will most likely remember Canada’s Second World War “victory gardens,” where citizens were encouraged to grow their own produce to help the war effort. This season’s enthusiastic gardeners are channeling that same solidarity of spirit into even the tiniest plots and container gardens.   

Planting a few herb pots or a window box can be an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors, or even bring the outdoors into your home. Nature often offers a new perspective on a situation and can help boost mood and lower stress. This activity also works well with physical distancing in a retirement residence; it’s great to do with a gardening club or as a solo pastime. Many local gardening centres offer curbside delivery of supplies if you or a family member want to venture out to purchase some new plants.

Take a Google Earth trip down memory lane

Did you know that Google Earth* can take you back to the street view of a childhood home, the place where you spent your honeymoon, or a school you once attended? The Left Bank in Paris? Oxford Street in London? With the help of a tablet, lap-top computer, or even a phone, you can get up close and personal to almost any place on earth.

It’s even more fun and fascinating if you have old photos of selected destinations to compare with the current view, which can often inspire stories of past visits.

Take a dog for a walk

Sometimes it’s the simplest pleasures that are the best. If you or a family member has a pet, consider taking them for a walk or even just enjoying a cuddle. Pet companionship has proven health benefits for seniors and can be especially helpful during times of physical distancing when we can’t be as physically close to our family and friends as we’d like to be.*

Host a remote viewing party

If you can’t get together with friends or family, consider watching a favourite movie or TV series together over video call. If you both have Netflix and a comfort with technology, “Netflix Party” is a Google Chrome extension that allows you and any other Netflix subscribers to remotely watch Netflix at the same time.* It synchronizes playback amongst viewers and has a chat window for participants to comment on the on-screen happenings. To get in the spirit, encourage everyone to have popcorn and a favourite beverage on hand.

If you aren’t watching together, why not agree to watch the program separately and then make a phone or video-chat date to discuss?

There are many creative and fun ways to enjoy the summer with family and friends. What’s most important is feeling connected to one another while practicing important measures that will keep us all safe!

Courtesy of Chartwell Retirement Residences

*The following sources are references for this blog in order of appearance:

  1. Google Earth. Online:
  1. Lisa Wood, Karen martin, Hayle Christian, Andrea Nathan, Claire Lauritsen, Steve Houghton, Ichiro Kawachi, Sandra McCune. “The Pet Factor – Companion Animals as a Conduit for Getting to Know People, Friendship Formation and Social Support.” (April 29, 2015), online:
  1. MakeUseOf. “How to Watch Netflix With Friends Far Away: 7 Methods That Work.” (Updated March 24, 2020), online: