Tackling a sporting match with an older loved one

If your elderly loved one enjoys watching sport, they may enjoy a trip to the footy. We share some tips to help you prepare for the outing.

A sporting match can be a great way to connect with an ageing loved one, and it can be the perfect opportunity for them to get out and have some fun.

Although taking your elderly loved one to a sporting event may seem difficult, a day out could really benefit them.

“It’s extremely important [for them] to maintain links with the community and participate in activities,” says Dr Natasha Layton from Occupational Therapy Australia. Rest assured that you can make the practicalities of your trip a lot easier with a little planning. 

Here are some tips to help you tackle an outing to a sporting event:

Do your research

Think about each step of the outing: 
  1. You’ll need to organise tickets.
  2. Ensure their wheelchair can fit through the venue’s front door.
  3. Consider whether you need to hire mobility aids, such as a wheelchair, at the venue.
  4. Work out how to sustain your loved one’s energy throughout the day.
  5. Pack food, drinks and any medication.
  6. And make it home again. 

“Do some research on the venue,” says Dr Layton. “Work out where the [entries and exits] are and how you’ll access the toilets.”

If you need help anticipating the difficulties your loved one is likely to experience, contact an occupational therapist or Independent Community Living Australia. If your loved one is dealing with an illness, you can also contact the relevant body for that condition.

Plan your transport

You can also find ways to make the journey itself easier. Dr Layton says that each state’s public-transport service offers some form of mobility assistance or access.
football field

Go in a group

A little backup can help make the day easier, so rally other family members to join your outing. “Having a circle of support around you can make the event really social,” says Dr Layton. “Other people can sit with your loved one while you find snacks or socialise.”

Consider comfort

Think about what sort of gear could make the experience more comfortable for your loved one. “It’s a good idea to take a lightweight foam cushion for back support or a heat pack for outdoor events,” suggests Dr Layton. “Being comfortable will make the day much more enjoyable.” You should also consider how tiring the day might be, and how you can incorporate some quiet rest breaks for your loved one.

Bring your own food and drinks

Indulging in a pie and chips is traditional at the footy, but it isn’t always practical. “Take some snacks and drinks so you don’t have to stand in a queue,” says Dr Layton. Packing some water and favourite foods, including energy-sustaining snacks, is a particularly important strategy when you don’t have other family members to help out.

Make the day fun

Finally, you want to make your loved one’s day out as enjoyable as possible. Being prepared can help clear the way for that fun, and there are other little things you can do, too. “Make sure you both have team scarves and hats as that’s part of the fun and makes them feel they fit in,” says Dr Layton. Here’s hoping your team wins!
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