Summer Activities for Seniors

Did you know the average temperature during the summer in Williamsburg is in the upper 80s? When it’s so hot, it can be hard to think about what you want to do that will enable you to get out of the house without wilting from the heat. To save you the trouble, we’ve come up with the following list of activities to keep you cool, whether at home or on the go in Williamsburg.

Take Advantage of the Early Morning

If you need to go out for errands, make sure to get out earlier in the day before the temperatures have had time to reach their peak. Early morning is a great time to go for a stroll, do a little gardening or just sit outside and watch the birds. A little sun will help you get your vitamin D for the day and a bit of fresh air is always good for you. When you are outside, don’t forget to cover your head to protect yourself from the heat and use sunscreen to protect against sunburn, and be sure to keep a bottle of water handy to stay hydrated. It’s important to drink lots of water, especially when the temperatures are on the rise.

Enjoy the Activity of Coloring

That’s right! Coloring is a great activity at any age. There are many adult-themed coloring books covering almost any topic you can imagine, from old cars to music to patriotic themes. Whatever subject you enjoy, you’re sure to find a coloring book designed to meet your desires. Dover Publications has a wide selection of adult coloring books. Coloring is relaxing, but it’s also an excellent exercise for your brain and has been shown to be a fantastic activity for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. It’s a wonderful activity to share with the grandkids, as well.

Take a Class

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do or how to do better? Art classes are offered at the Williamsburg Contemporary Arts Center. Pottery, painting, ceramics and mixed media classes are taught at the Colonial Folk Art Studio and Gallery. The College of William and Mary has senior programs offering limited access to non-degree seeking students to take courses for audit or credit. Additionally, they have the Christopher Wren Association which offers a variety of courses for adults of all ages.

Learn a New Language

Have you dreamed of taking a trip to France or some other exotic location? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to speak the language enough to be able to get around? Or, do you just want to learn for fun to help stimulate your brain? All you need is your computer and a little willpower and you have everything you need to learn a new language. There are many free sites that offer you the opportunity to learn a new language for free. Some of them include Duolingo, the Yojik Website, Mango (affiliated with some public libraries including James City County Library/Williamsburg Regional Library and Groninger Library in Fort Eustis) (see if it is available at your public library by clicking here), and Speak7. Apps you can download to help you learn on your phone, as well as your computer, include MindSnacks for IOS users and Memrise for Android users. Chat with native speakers using the app HelloTalk. Some parts of the award-winning Babbel app are free as well. More information on language learning apps can be found by clicking here.

Visit an Interesting Shop

We all drive past shops that interest us, but we’re really not sure what they sell or what bargain we may find hidden on their shelves. Maybe the name peaks your interest. Whatever it is that makes you wonder about them, now is the time to mark your calendar, grab a friend or two and check them out. The Sideshow or Kinks and Quirks, both located in Williamsburg and filled with one of a kind works of art and other curiosities, may be just such a store.

Visit an Antique Shop, Thrift Store or Flea Market

Check out one or more area antique stores, thrift stores or flea markets. You’re sure to find a bargain you just can’t live without. And, shopping is always more fun with friends and family so be sure to invite them to join you.

Create an Upcycling Project

Although it sounds like exercise, upcycling is a lot more fun. On your visit to the antique shops, thrift stores or flea markets, be on the lookout for your next upcycling project. Whether you want to create something for yourself or make as a gift, upcycling is a great way to create your very own one of a kind project. Not sure what you want to make? Check out our blog post, Upcycling: DIY Projects – Making Holiday Gifts. Most of the projects discussed are not holiday specific; however, it’s never too early to begin thinking about and making those holiday projects and gifts.

Visit an Art Gallery or Studio

Visit a local art gallery. Many galleries filled with paintings, ceramics and various other art forms can be found in most medium to large-sized cities and towns across the United States. Williamsburg is home to quite a few including the Williamsburg Art Gallery (listed by American Art Awards as one of the 25 Best Art Galleries and Museums in America and Best of Virginia in 2017), Williamsburg Contemporary Arts Center, Linda Matney Fine Art Gallery, Colonial Folk Art Studio and Gallery, the Muscarelle Museum of Art and many others.

Visit a Museum

Historic Williamsburg has many museums that are sure to provide an interesting and educational outing. From Ripley’s Believe It or Not to the Virginia Musical Museum to Colonial Williamsburg or one of the others listed in our blog post, Top Museum to Visit in Williamsburg, you’re sure to find one that you’d love to spend a day discovering something new about the past.

Take an After Dark Ghost Tour

Ready for the bewitching hour and a little haunted fun? Enjoy the cooler temperatures after the sun goes down at one of Williamsburg’s ghost tours. On the Official Colonial Williamsburg Ghost Walk, for an hour your guide will conjure up stories of spirits and share true tales of spirits that walk among us. The Ghosts Among Us tour takes you inside buildings sharing ghostly tales of their hauntings. These tours may not be appropriate for children.

Attend a Witch Trial

Attend a witch trial in Colonial Williamsburg at Cry Witch. After questioning witnesses and weighing the evidence, you cast your vote for the guilt or innocence of “the Virginia Witch.” Please keep in mind, this activity is not appropriate for children.

Cool Off with Us at Verena at the Reserve

Don’t forget to check out the activity calendar here at Verena at the Reserve. It’s always packed with fun programs, classes and events that will help you beat the heat. Enjoy a movie at our weekly movie night, join one of our card clubs, play billiards on our tournament-sized pool table, take a scrapbook class or enjoy a little gardening. Or, maybe you’d like to create a little heat of your own in our walking club, yoga classes, Flex Fit and WiiFit classes or at one of the local aquatics programs.

Need more ideas to beat the heat? Contact us at Verena at the Reserve. We’ll be happy to help you find a fun way to stay cool, including a tour of our Williamsburg senior living community. Come explore our active lifestyle community for yourself.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Written by Meadowstone Place resident, Sandra B.

“We know that freezing weather affects our plants. What about this hot weather we have been experiencing lately? What effect does it have on our plants? And just how hot does it have to be to start feeling “hot” to our plants anyway? 100 degrees? Is that too hot for our plants? We know it’s too hot for we as people. Actually, the plants experience “hot” as anything over 85 degrees, so you know that the plants around here get a lot of exposure to hot this time of the year and for the many months ahead of us! Yes, it is at about 85 degrees that we need to start treating our plants with some special care to keep the heat from affecting them in bad ways. So just what are the bad effects that temperature can have on our plants and what can we do to help protect our plants from the damage that the heat can cause?

The actual damage that heat can cause depends upon a few things: now some plants can take high temperatures without any damage at all. Your cacti and the whole category of succulents are constructed with their thick skins instead of thin leaves to thrive in hot conditions so we don’t have to worry about them. They have adapted to live under hot conditions. But most other plants, particularly those with shallow roots like vegetables and annuals, and some perennials, especially those with large leaves, are particularly vulnerable. Plants with shallow roots are vulnerable because they will more quickly lose their access to water and plants with big leaves are more vulnerable because they will lose more water into the air through transpiration. We are beginning to see a pattern here I think. Water is a big factor when it comes to survival in the heat. And indeed it is. In fact these 2 factors – Heat and Water – are always combined when you are looking at the impact of heat on plants. The lack of water will intensify the effects of heat and in turn, the addition of water can help protect plants, to a degree, from the bad effects of heat. So we rarely talk about one of these without talking out the other as well. So keep that in mind.

So what are the bad effects of heat? That depends upon where your plant is in its development. If it is a seed trying to germinate, heat aids germination up to a point then above that point it stops helping and starts hurting. Each kind of seed has an optimal range for germination and it helps to know that to know when to plant it. Excess heat when a plant is developing its roots can cause a plant to develop stunted or abnormal roots and can cause a plant to fail. One effect that we often see is when vegetables are approaching harvest and the heat abruptly rises and the plants shoot up long stems and flowers – we call that “bolting” – and we know that there will be no more harvest this year. Tomato plants will stop producing when the temperature gets too high, usually in the mid to upper 90’s. Some plants will stop producing flowers when the temperatures get too high. The plant is doing this as an effort to save itself. Producing flowers or fruits is a luxury for a plant. It is the first function they will shed when they feel threatened, when they feel a need to concentrate their efforts on preserving what energy they have on basic survival. When temperatures get too high even the basic process of photosynthesis can get out of balance and then the plant’s survival will be in question.

So what can we do to help the plant along during these difficult times? Water, of course, is the main tool we have available to us to help support the plants. They need water at least once a day, some, especially plants in pots, may require watering twice a day. If plants are in pots and are in full sun, moving them to a shadier spot may provide some extra protection. Using mulch on the soil is a good way to conserve water in the soil. Make certain your plants have all the fertilizer they need to keep them strong and healthy and better able to stand up to the challenges posed by the weather. In some cases, providing shade in the form of a trellis or shade cloth will protect plants in full view of the direct sun.

We cannot control the weather, as we well know. All we can do is provide the best for our plants and hope the weather is moderate and our plants survive. What we can do for ourselves is stay inside where it is cool and take our walks in the morning or in the evening when the temperatures are more comfortable and hope for the occasional day when the temperature is in the upper 70’s and low 80’s and be glad we are not living in Houston with their humidity!”