Of the four seasons, autumn tends to get the least amount of attention and is generally regarded as the lead-in to the holidays. However, fall is a great opportunity for outings and activities that seniors and family caregivers can enjoy together. Use these ideas to kick off the season with tasty treats, colorful outings and fun crafts.

Fall Color Tours

One of the biggest highlights of autumn 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 before the weather turns chilly. For loved ones who are homebound, gathering some leaves for crafts and sensory boxes can help them feel engaged with the outside world and excited for the changing seasons. Use an online foliage map to see when the fall colors will peak in your area.

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All About Pumpkin

Carving jack-o-lanterns is a classic family tradition that can be easily adapted to meet a senior’s abilities. Visiting a local pumpkin patch is a great outing idea that can help a loved one get into the fall spirit. Both of you can pick out pumpkins to bring home, and many patches also offer fall-themed games, contests and activities on certain days.

Instead of carving your pumpkins this year, try decorating them with paint, ribbon, glitter, fabric, decoupage, rhinestones, or whatever craft supplies you have on hand. Work with your loved one to select a design and bring it to life. No-carve pumpkins tend to last longer than traditional jack-o-lanterns, too. If carving is still your preferred method, it is best to handle the tricky knifework yourself. Just be sure to have the senior participate throughout the process. Let them pick the theme/stencil, scoop out the pulp and separate the seeds, which are delicious roasted in the oven!

Happy Halloween

Younger generations typically consider Halloween to be the best part of fall, but this holiday can be too spooky for some seniors, especially those living with dementia. Decorating and celebrating are still possible, just make a point of keeping props and costumes wholesome and cheerful. For example, opt for a pumpkin patch or harvest vibe in lieu of a haunted house or scary cemetery theme when decorating. Do-it-yourself decor and costumes are perfect in this instance because they give you and your loved one something to do together, and the finished products can be as cute, scary or silly as you like.

Cook Up a Celebration

If decorating for Halloween isn’t a good fit for your household, making sweet treats together is another delicious way of celebrating. Caramel apples, marshmallow crispy treats, pumpkin bread, mulled cider and sugar cookies for decorating are simple, memory-evoking recipes. Flavorful fall spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg will leave your home smelling wonderful and add powerful antioxidants to your food, too.

Autumn brings an abundance of seasonal produce, such as winter squash, apples, pears, beets, figs, parsnips, and other root vegetables. These ingredients are perfect for both sweet and savory comfort foods. Regardless of what is on the menu, try turning your mundane grocery store run into a fun outing by purchasing your ingredients at a local farmers market.

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