Summer Ideas for Getting Isolated-Feeling Parents Out of the House

Short trips ideas to help aging parents enjoy a change of scenery
Part One: general truisms and short outings.

  • If parents can get out to have you drive them to the doctor, they can manage these short trips.
  • A change of scenery adds something to life; we know that. While we take for granted the many changes of scenery in our every-day-life, older people who don’t drive and/or lack initiative often complain they “look at the four walls.”
  • “Feeling “isolated” can make anyone “dumb down,” lose interest, feel cranky.
  • Inertia can easily set in–an effort becomes too much of an effort.
  • Yet an invitation may provide a jump start.
  • If an invitation to accompany you some place doesn’t meet with enthusiasm or acceptance, trick them into going.  How? Using the “I need your help” plea, have them accompany you on a quick errand, then add one of the suggested short trips. Or attach a short outing after an appointment at the doctor’s office.
  • Provide something appealing to eat/drink–as simple as an ice cream cone or as elaborate as a meal.

I accidentally learned the next-to-last last truism after taking my–we-thought-almost-dying–mother for her first geriatric appointment at the teaching hospital.  She went in like a limp rag.  After tests and time with the geriatrician we wheeled her to the car, carefully seat-belted her in the back seat, and began the short ride home.  We passed gorgeous rose bushes that mother noticed and quietly commented on.  I asked if she had enough energy for me to drive her past some other homes with beautiful flowers. She responded “yes, if you make it short.”  Voila!

Short Summer Outings:

Sweet Memories–Picnic by the Ocean: Mother (79) and Me
Photographer: Dad

  • A scenic and relaxing drive. Final destination could be a place to eat. Every city and town has restaurants (sitting in a restaurant provides entertainment–people watching) and parks.  (Check Parks and Recreation Department for picnic tables, other amenities and handicap access if applicable.)  Possible sites: overlooking water, gardens, beautiful views. Nature is renewing.
  • Major botanical gardens, zoos, and museums (art museums, regional museums, specialized museums) often have facilities for lunch, have wheel chairs and are handicapped accessible.  Tailor length of visits to parents’ needs (which obviously don’t include waiting in long lines), so it makes sense to avoid busy times.

Stimulation helps parents age well. Pulling an unmotivated parent out of a funk feels good.  We need to remember people change, not much.  So an unmotivated, cranky young person will no doubt be an unmotivated cranky old person. We cannot perform miracles–alas! But when parents feel better, don’t we feel better?

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