Many of us think of fall as a time for pumpkins, sweaters, walks in the fall leaves, and getting out for some fun activities. If you are caring for an aging Mom, aging Dad, or senior citizen, autumn can mean something different. As the weather turns colder, they might not be able to get out as much. Also, the grandkids might be going back to school, and they might not be able to enjoy their company as much.
Fear of falling on the wet, slippery leaves or frost-covered sidewalks can leave seniors unable to enjoy walks and outdoor activities, leaving them feeling isolated and lonely. Fortunately, many activities are perfect for fall, and many of them can help build precious memories at the same time. Here are 10 ways you can help your loved one feel connected and stay active as the leaves begin to fall.
1. Apple Picking
Nothing says Autumn like apple picking. It is a great way to spend time outdoors, and you can combine it with preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. Many local farms make accommodations for those with limited mobility and walking aids. It is an excellent choice for those with cognitive impairments, as long as they are accompanied by a caregiver who can assist. You can find local farms that offer pumpkins and fresh-baked goodies to enjoy. This is an excellent opportunity for an aging Mom or aging Dad to enjoy time outside and help with holiday preparations. Even if your loved one cannot do the actual picking, they can still participate and spend some time building precious memories.
2. Explore Memories
Senior citizens have a wealth of experiences and stories about their lives that are lost. Recalling and reminiscing about these times in their lives is an excellent way to keep their minds sharp, and you can build a deeper connection with them at the same time. The only thing this activity takes is remembering to ask questions. For instance, while you are planning Thanksgiving activities, you might remember to ask them to share special holiday memories from their younger years. This is something anyone can do, and you might want to take the opportunity to record these moments. If your loved one has dementia, old photo albums, newspaper clippings, or other aids might help them recall special times.
3. Work Fall-Themed Puzzles Together
Working fall-themed puzzles is an activity that can be shared indoors or outside while enjoying the weather. You can find many beautiful puzzles of all ages online. It is an activity that can be done sitting down. A great way to enjoy this activity is with the grandchildren. The grandkids can help your aging Mom or Dad complete the puzzle. This is an excellent activity for those who have dementia because it keeps organizational and problem-solving skills active. Children can help someone with cognitive impairment and connect with them in a special way. All this activity requires is a puzzle and a large surface for working.
4. Visit a Museum
A visit to a museum is an excellent activity for an aging Dad or Mom. Many museums are indoor, but you can also find ones that have outdoor activities or displays. One example of outdoor activities might be a sculpture park or botanical garden in full fall color. Outdoor activities often have paved paths that make them easily accessible for those with mobility issues. A trip to the museum can be a fun way to connect with senior citizens because you might be able to prompt them to share stories from their younger years about the objects you discover.
5. Pumpkin Picking and Carving
Pumpkin picking and apple picking often go hand-in-hand, but one of the best parts about fall is pumpkin carving. This is an excellent outdoor activity that can be shared with grandchildren, or you can just make a day of it and enjoy it with them. Those who use a walker or wheelchair might have to have assistance actually picking and carrying the pumpkins, but many farms are now accessible for those with special needs. Pumpkin carving is an excellent way to express creativity and participate in the holidays. You can also choose to decorate your pumpkins with markers or paint.
6. Cooking and Baking
Cooking and baking together is an excellent indoor activity. This is something you can enjoy throughout the Autumn months. During October, you can create spooky Halloween treats together. Having your aging Mom or Dad help with the Thanksgiving meal is an excellent way to share family recipes and build memories. Make sure to ask them about any recipes they remember from their childhood. Throughout the season, you can enjoy pumpkin muffins, breads, and spiced lattes.
7. Volunteer Activities
Finding ways to volunteer together can go a long way to helping your loved one feel like they are an important part of the community. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor opportunities for holiday volunteer activities that can be adapted for senior citizens. Depending on their physical and mental abilities, you can do things like help with a food drive for local charities, help assemble Thanksgiving meals for the homeless, or look into reading holiday stories at the local library. Checking with local churches, libraries, and schools is a good way to find out what is available in your area. Volunteering together is a great holiday tradition to begin with the entire family.
8. Have a Holiday-Themed Karaoke Night
You do not have to be a great singer or have a good voice to have fun with a family Karaoke night. All you need is a karaoke machine, and you are ready to have some fun. You can make a night of it with snacks and invite a few friends over for a social activity. This an activity that can be enjoyed by those of all physical abilities. Try to include a few oldies but goodies that they will remember. Many times, those with dementia will remember songs from their youth. You can also build a playlist around Halloween or being thankful. Including a few favorites from old-time holiday shows can also make the season more festive.
9. Throw a Fall Party
The holidays provide ample opportunities for throwing a party. This is a great social activity, and it can be held indoors or outdoors on a patio or deck. Keeping connections is one of the most important ways to care for loved ones, especially those with dementia. You might consider indoor themes like a costume party for Halloween to greet the trick-or-treaters or an indoor tailgate party before the game. Make sure to include some games that are appropriate for those with limited mobility, and encourage them to help with the preparations. You can include many activities like helping with the food or making party decorations from things you have around the home. Be sure to include them in the activity planning, too.
10. Do Fall Arts and Crafts
Fall is ripe with opportunities for doing arts and crafts activities together. This is an excellent indoor activity that can be done alone with a group. Having a few friends over is always a great way to include some social interaction. Most crafts can be done sitting down, so it is an excellent activity for those with mobility challenges. Some excellent ideas include making a fall wreath, making a Thanksgiving table centerpiece, or knitting a winter scarf. If you look around, you can often find crochet hooks, knitting needles, and paint brushes made for this with arthritis or motor challenges.
Enjoy the Fall With Assisting Hands
Doing things together increases the bond and helps combat depression and loneliness. This list is a good starting point, and you can use it to spark ideas for creating your own special moments and enjoy your time as the autumn chill sets in and the leaves begin to fall. If your senior loved needs companionship and transportation to social activities, call us at (610) 541-2515. Assisting Hands provides uplifting companion care and in-home care services for seniors and adults with limitations in Collegeville, King of Prussia, Limerick, Norristown, West Norriton and surrounding areas in Montgomery County, PA.