After a long, hot summer, there’s nothing better than that first cool day when you can finally open your windows and take in the fresh air. Soon hues of orange, red and yellow will be painting the trees as they prepare to shed their leaves. This change of season brings a variety of activities, sights, smells and flavors like no other. Pumpkin spice everything, apple cider, hay bales and scarecrows decorating porches and roasting marshmallows for s’mores are among everyone’s favorites.
As we age, one of the most important things we can do for our health is to remain active. Getting up and out of the house while spending time together can boost everyone’s mood and create wonderful memories. Even if you or your loved one are unable to get out of the house, there are many ways to enjoy autumn. The changing season brings plenty of opportunities to try new things. Here are a few fall-centered ideas that will help you take advantage of this beautiful season once the crisp air starts to sets in.
Enjoy nature’s color show.
One of the biggest highlights of fall is the turning of the leaves. Short walks and leisurely drives allow seniors with varying levels of mobility to admire the fall foliage and get some fresh air. Many parks offer wheelchair accessible paths so that everyone can enjoy the outdoors. Take along a camera to capture the splendor. How many different colors are on the leaves? What animals are out and about? Another way to enjoy the fall color change is to simply go for a drive. It may not be physical activity, but it still gets you out of the house. For seniors with very limited mobility, gathering some leaves for crafts and bringing them indoors can help them feel connected and enjoy the season as well.
While you’re outdoors, why not stop to look at (and listen to) the birds? Fall is a great time to grab a bird book and binoculars to see how many different types of birds you can spot as they call back and forth. If your senior is receiving home care, this could be a nice activity for them and their caregiver to enjoy together.
Build a birdhouse.
Speaking of fall and birds – take time to build, or just decorate, a birdhouse to hang in the yard. Be sure to have someone hang it where it can be enjoyed as birds find a safe shelter in which to nest.
Head to your local pumpkin patch together and pick your own pumpkins and gourds, then spend the afternoon carving and decorating for fall. Look online for non-traditional new ideas for pumpkins decorating. For instance, plant lovers can make a succulent pumpkin by simply attaching moss to the top of the pumpkin and adding succulent cuttings. This is the perfect activity to schedule when the grandchildren visit. As for the leftovers, creative food lovers can try their hand at making a pumpkin pie, and roasting the seeds for a healthy snack.
Pick your own apples.
If apple picking is too strenuous on your own, bring a friend or grandchild along to help. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors, eat local apples, get some fresh air and exercise. Later, you can turn your harvest into a homemade pie, apple butter, or a dried apple wreath! Call ahead to see if your local orchard is handicap accessible. For those with limited mobility, many farms offer hayrides to explore the grounds. Don’t forget the apple cider donuts!
Go to a fall festival.
Many communities hold annual festivals, and fall is a popular time for them thanks to the mild weather. These festivals offer a great way to stay connected to the local community while also partaking in fun activities, live music, food, crafts, games, and other activities together. Each one is a unique experience, and most provide excellent autumn activities for seniors. Search online or ask around to find festivals held in your area.
Football is one of the most beloved sports and nothing says fall like football. Even seniors who aren’t fans of the game will enjoy the excitement and togetherness of a tailgate-themed event. Set up a lunch (indoors or out) with hotdogs, hamburgers, nachos, chicken wings and other snacks. Watch a game together and encourage everyone attending to wear their favorite teams colors. Consider taking your loved on to a local high school or college game, but be sure to plan ahead for those with mobility issues.
Though the end of summer is bittersweet, the beauty of the changing leaves and autumn scenery gives everyone a reason to look forward to this time of year. Seniors who stay active and keep their minds stimulated are most likely to improve their overall health and wellness. Talk to your loved one as well to find out what kinds of activities they’re interested in. Ask about what they used to do when they were younger and how they would celebrate fall. Talking about the past can be a helpful way to connect with aging parents or relatives who may have memory loss. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your time together and make the most of each day!