The start of autumn marks the beginning of the holiday season in the United States. Families around the country look forward to gatherings, events, and the traditions that make these occasions so special.
Moving into an assisted living community doesn’t change a person’s desire to celebrate and enjoy the season. Most facilities plan activities that get residents in a festive mood. These must be designed for safety and with mobility limitations in mind.
Some seniors may not be able to go to the pumpkin patch, trick or treat with the kids, or do other things that we often take for granted. However, there are so many other fun activities that they can do to enjoy fall.
Whether you work at an assisted living facility or have a relative who lives in one, you can help make their autumn brighter. The following list includes seven senior friendly fall activities that you can try this season.
- Make Fall Leaf Garland to Decorate Assisted Living Rooms
Fall leaf garland is easy to make and can be displayed anywhere. All you need is some construction paper and twine.
Depending on dexterity, you can have residents draw and cut out construction paper leaf shapes. Residents who may have difficulty using scissors could be given pre-cut leaf shapes. These can be left as is or residents can add detail by drawing little lines down the middle just like the real thing.
Using a hole punch or scissors, make two small holes just under the stem of each leaf. Then, thread the twine through the holes and repeat with as many leaves as you like. The leaves can be displayed as though they were hanging upside down.
Try to alternate colors for a more eye-catching display. Red, gold, orange, and brown are usually great choices. You can also throw in some greens.
Leaf garland can be hung up in communal spaces or used to decorate the doorways or resident rooms. You can change things up by adding other fall shapes, like pumpkins, apples, acorns, and ears of corn.
- Work on a Jigsaw Puzzle with an Autumn Scene
Jigsaw puzzles are a popular pastime. It’s an easy activity that uses cognitive function and dexterity. The puzzles could be left in communal areas so that all residents can work on them at their leisure. Or families can bring one in for their loved one to work on in their room.
Doing puzzles together is a fun way to bond with others. Find something with a festive holiday or fall design. Forests, cozy homes, woodland creatures, or holiday-themed images are great choices.
Residents can disassemble puzzles to save for next autumn or they can be glued down and framed for display.
- Bake and Decorate Pumpkin Cookies or Apple Treats
This time of the year is known for its tasty treats. Some flavors conjure happy memories of spending time with family and friends. Capture that nostalgia with fall cookies or treats.
Apple dumplings are a staple dessert during autumn. Assisted living residents who love to bake will enjoy helping to make these sweet treats. Even those who don’t bake can still join in by sampling the finished product!
Sugar cookies are another great choice that works for any holiday. They can be cut into any shape you like. Residents can join in by decorating the cookies when they are ready. Try cutting them into pumpkins and let residents make their own edible jack-o-lanterns. Turkeys are a good choice for Thanksgiving.
- Invite Local Trick or Treaters to Stop by on Halloween
Have candy ready for trick or treaters on Halloween! Make sure the local community knows that the assisted living community will be handing out candy this year.
Not only will the local kids love it, but residents will get an opportunity to socialize and meet their neighbors. Having elderly people interact with younger members of the community is a good way to help generations make friends and bond.
If you buy mixed bags of candy, seniors may enjoy sorting them into different containers for the kids. It may not be necessary but can serve as a good way to get memory care patients involved.
Staff could take it a step further by hosting a costume contest for the kids judged by a panel of assisted living residents.
- Spend a Pleasant Fall Afternoon Outdoors
Just being outside in the crisp fall air is invigorating! Bring seniors outside on a pleasant fall afternoon.
Even if the area doesn’t have any thick forests, most places have at least a few trees. Facilities can also add seasonal flowers like mums to brighten the area. Residents will love the change of scenery while breathing in that refreshing fall air.
This is a great regular activity that can be done on any day that the weather cooperates.
- Paint Small Pumpkins to Display Inside and Outside of the Facility
Carving pumpkins is fun but can be a hazard – especially for older people who may not have the dexterity they once did. As an alternative, assisted living communities can instead plan pumpkin painting sessions.
Craft acrylic paint works well. Just keep in mind that this type of paint is water soluble, so it will likely begin to wash off in the rain. It is fast drying and safer to use than other types, so if you plan to go this route, remember to display pumpkins indoors or on a covered porch.
Residents can have fun painting faces, scenes, or holiday messages on their pumpkins.
- Organize a Fall Picnic with Seasonal Foods
Organize a fall picnic for everyone in the assisted living community! The nice thing about a picnic is that it can be held indoors or outdoors. If the weather isn’t agreeable or if residents have trouble moving outdoors, you can instead set the mood in the facility’s dining room.
Serve guests autumn-inspired dishes. Popular choices include root vegetables like carrots, pumpkins, and potatoes. Nuts are also a good addition. Decorate with leaves and fall colors.
Everyone should have an opportunity to enjoy the fall season. Learn more about life in assisted living by visiting Woodhaven Retirement Community.