Aging Parents: Halloween Ideas Roundup: Part 2 –8 Things Aging and Elderly Adults Can Look Forward To

kids halloween costume picture

Princesses, witches and pirates are set to rule this Halloween. Credit: Getty.

An active, appropriately-involved grandmother recently said: “Oh! I won’t be able to resist going to my daughter’s and seeing the kids in their costumes before they go trick or treating.” She was looking forward.

We can never be 100% certain when we plan ahead for older people, because stuff happens–usually more for/to them than us. Yet we know giving older people something to look forward to lifts spirits. Below are 8 plan-ahead, look-forward to–ideas…only the party takes real work.

 Halloween fun for Elders

  1. Invite grandparents, older aunts and uncles, and/or any older adults you care about to see your children in their Halloween costumes–either before kids go trick-or-treating or when they come back.
  2. If aging/older friends or relatives are in care facilities, or are basically housebound, take your costumed children for a quick visit–before Halloween if convenient, but afterwards works too. There’s an additional benefit– lifting spirits for every old(er) person in care facilities (those who always sit in the hall in wheel chairs or other chairs) who sees the Halloween-costumed kids walk by.
  3. When grandchildren can safely trick-or-treat with an adult chaperone, invite grandparents to go along (and remain far enough away to be almost invisible?)
  4. When PTAs, recreation departments, elementary schools etc. sponsor Halloween parties, invite at least one aging family member to accompany you, as you transport the kids.
  5. Have a Halloween party at your home. (links below for party ideas). Invite grandparents.
  6. Invite aging parents to come to your home for Halloween to see the trick-or-treaters. (You need’t have children). I remember my parents coming back to visit at Halloween and the excitement following each ring of the doorbell. The high-pitched  “trick or treat” elicited Dad’s compliments about their scary look, great costume etc. They beamed at the compliments as they took their candy. Dad beamed back. Mother, in the background, seemed happy to replenish the candy supply. She too had a big smile on her face as she watched these little kids having such a good time.
  7. Make plans to be at aging parents’ homes during trick-or-treat hours, thus alleviating the fear and apprehension that can accompany a ring of the doorbell on the dark Halloween night. Aging adults can once again enjoy the trick-or-treaters. If few trick-or-treaters come, you have been with your parent(s) and that in itself is a gift (as we know).
  8. Take Older People To See Halloween Displays Details: Click these posts, if you haven’t already seen them.

Probably all older adults went trick-or-treating as kids. How can it not be fun for them to observe youngsters repeating this tradition…….another small aspect of helping parents age well.

Related: https://helpparentsagewell.com/2013/10/29/halloween-treats-for-aging-parents-and-grandparents-couch-potatoes-and-those-in-care-facilities/
               https://helpparentsagewell.com/2014/10/11/aging-parents-a-halloween-activity-in-the-city-or-the-suburbs-planning-ahead/

Party planning: http://www.hgtv.com/entertaining/host-a-kids-craft-party-for-halloween/pictures/index.html
http://kidsparties.about.com/od/celebratingholidays/a/HalloweenParties.htm
Checkout classic Halloween party (last paragraph)

Great Halloween Gift Ideas Roundup for Aging, Elderly, and Hosptialized Adults–Part 1: Pumpkins–Decorated, not Carved

Favorite Farm Stand 2014

Favorite Farm Stand 2014

Decorating pumpkin patch pumpkins in an unorthodox way–
Unique and fun gift for aging parents and elders.
Click photos to Enlarge

When I lived near this farm stand I’d take pumpkins home and decorate–not carve–them on the kitchen counter….gifts for elderly friends at Halloween. However when we moved to the City, transporting them became a logistical challenge because cars in the City are basically an expensive nuisance. Thus, our car is in a garage in the suburbs. Last week I took the commuter train to the suburbs, got our car, then purchased the pumpkin, flowers etc. without knowing where I would assemble everything.

Decorating in the car would be a last resort, as there’s no electrical outlet for the glue gun. Decision: this year’s pumpkin–only one–would not require a glue gun, only the skewers to poke the holes. I forgot it last year and ended up using a fondue fork. It works too.

Halloween 2013 Scarecrow Pumplin

2012 Halloween Pumpkin, Skewers, Glue Gun, Scarecrow.    Click to enlarge

2013 Scarecrows

2013 Finished Hallwoween Pumpkins              (with fairly short stems)

This 2014 non-messy project began at the farm stand, where I selected an easily-portable pumpkin with a curved stem that had strings dangling from it. At Trader Joe’s I bought the $3.99 bouquet special, then went in search of some ornaments.

I’ve used small scarecrows in the past, but couldn’t find any this year.  The best I could do was purchase a head band with black feathers and pumpkins quivering on a spring ($2.99). That was a bit of a splurge for me, but what the heck! A dollar store was too far away.

I’ve learned to phone to double-check that it’s still convenient for me to bring a pumpkin to an elderly person–things can easily change as we know. The 96-yearr-old man’s caregiver said to come on over and decorate the pumpkin in the kitchen, which I (we) did.

The finished 2014 whimsey pumpkin above: We inserted an orangish chrysanthemum to look like a tooth was missing in the smile and added the purple mums for cheeks or ears.

Alternative to a fresh pumpkin: purchase ceramic or paper mache pumpkins with open tops or cut the paper mache top off, place container of water (plastic deli kind works well) inside, fill with fall flowers. Chrysanthemums in water last as long as the ones that have their longish stems inserted through the skewered hole into a fresh pumpkin’s liquidy center. The pumpkin above should last about 2 weeks. (Unused flowers are left in a glass of water and can replace any flowers that wilt.)

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Days later: I found–and bought– another pumpkin at Trader Joe’s and found scarecrows at Michael’s. Scarecrows are $1.25 on sale. Tomorrow I will phone my 101-year-old m-i-l and tell her I’d like to bring over a small decorated Halloween pumpkin, if she would like. Having control, at 101, has become even more important to her. She has become very  particular about not having anything unnecessary around–she will recycle it to a friend or throw it away. That’s why I’ll ask first.

Related: 2013: Decorating a Gift Pumpkin: Instructions and finished product
               2010: A Halloween Surprise 

The first Decorated Pumpkins 2010

2010 My first Decorated Pumpkins                    Click to enlarge

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Click links to timely information and research from respected universities, plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

Aging Parents: A Halloween Activity ~ in the City or the Suburbs…..planning ahead…(especially for elderly who don’t get out)

Who doesn’t enjoy Halloween decorations! They’re a treat for all ages and are becoming increasingly widespread. Indoors and out-of-doors these decorations are so much more elaborate than the orange, carved, candle-lit pumpkins–and perhaps a black cat or witch– sitting on the front porches of our childhood. However…..

Are aging parents and older people getting out to see them?
And–How can we make this happen?

Country Farm Stand in Oct.

Country Farm Stand in Oct. Can you see the tractor in back?

Whether in the country or the city, various-shaped, and even white-creamy-colored-pumpkins, along with

Halloween-themed inflatables–plus ghosts and witches–are common sights. Every year it seems more suburban and urban homes and commercial establishments dress up for Halloween. Even New York City townhouses get fancied-up for the occasion–a friendly ghost, a sedate townhouse’s front stoop. City sidewalks may also yield surprises. Isn’t this a perfect time to make plans to take older people out for a great change of scenery?

And what about an evening drive when lighted Halloween displays create a theatrical atmosphere? Whether it’s day or night, how many old and/or somewhat infirmed people rarely go out, spending most of their time indoors–at home or in assisted living or more structured care facilities?  Still others don’t drive–or don’t drive unfamiliar roads or at night.

For older people who are able to get into a car–with or without our help–going for a ride provides countless opportunities for stimulation and lifted spirits. Anticipating the event is an added bonus if we make the date ahead of time.

We arranged an outing last year. It turned out to be a dreary day–yet we had smiles on our faces as each Halloween display came into view. There was anticipation as we turned a corner to a new block. We never knew what to expect, although I did a “dry run” ahead of time several years ago to scope out decorated neighborhoods. They haven’t disappointed. While a drive to the country or suburbs is a change of pace for city dwellers, cities yield their own attractions if we know where to find them. And let’s not forget decorations in store windows and malls.

Any outing that gets older people out, seeing something new, is a win-win: stimulation, companionship, something to think about long after the event itself. Indeed we know major studies confirm that connections with others and stimulation are important factors in aging well.

We may have limited free time and our elders may have limited staying power, in which case a “dry run” could be in order. Whether carefully planned or spontaneous, the benefits of a ride–long or short–are clearly worth the time and effort.

Aging plays so many unexpected tricks on older people. Isn’t is great when we can give them a treat!

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Click links to timely information and research from respected universities–plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

HALLOWEEN IDEAS FOR AGING PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS, COUCH POTATOES and THOSE IN CARE FACILITIES

NYC Sidewalk Display

NYC Sidewalk Display

Halloween is one of those festive holidays. Decorations abound–displays in store windows; on suburban lawns; in New York City’s postage-stamp-size yards, even on the sidewalks of NY outside of two restaurants I passed today.

When our parents are young-old, chronologically or psychologically, they’re usually out and about interacting with others, with plenty of exposure to the black cats, ghosts, witches, pumpkins etc.–at grocery stores and super markets, gas stations and malls–and, of course, bakeries and candy stores.

I remember my parents coming back to visit in late October one year. They were mobile and could drive. They were in their ’70’s. Halloween night stands out, with the excitement that each ring of the doorbell created for these active seniors. With that in mind, I share ideas for involving aging parents in the Halloween fun.

 Invite aging parents to your home to marvel at
the trick-or-treaters’ costumes.

Dad loved answering the door bell’s ring–then seeing the little kids in costume. Their high pitched’ “trick or treat” elicited his compliments about their scary look, great costume etc. They beamed at the compliments as they took their candy. Dad beamed back.  Mother, in the background, seemed happy to replenish the candy supply. She too had a big smile on her face as she watched these excited little kids having such a good time.

It was then I realized what a fun night Halloween could be for older parents at their adult childrens’ homes. From watching the grandchildren get made-up and into costume, to answering the front door and dispensing candy (we had healthier treats in later years), it was pure fun–double fun when the kids come home with their loot to be examined by all.

 Celebrate Halloween with parents at their home

Halloween can make old people living alone, and those who don’t like to go out, apprehensive about the tricks and answering the doorbell. Can an adult child arrange to be at his or her  parents’ home during the trick or treat hours? I know my parents felt stress when the doorbell rang late at night. Older age=feelings of vulnerability…..but we can lessen that on Halloween, making it possible for the old folks to enjoy the kids and costumes while we are at their home (and have possibly provided the treats). And if few children ring the bell, you have been with your parent(s) and that in itself is a gift (as we know).

Take old/older people out for a ride to view the decorations

I wrote 2 posts on short drives with elders– on Halloween in suburbia–viewing the home decorations and lawn displays. A dry run to preview the most festive streets and homes is almost a must.  Seeing the lit displays at night is more dramatic.

Arrange for young children in costume to visit
relatives and friends in care facilities

My brother is probably the oldest father in the PTA. Until last year he loved joining his daughter as she and her friends went trick-or-treating in costume. When she told him last Halloween that she was going to a party with her girlfriends, he said he felt bad not being part of these middle schoolers’ experience any more. Can we take our children, in costume, to brighten up the lives of people where “trick or treat” no longer happens?

Take a pumpkin to the care facility

An option to the quick decorated pumpkin as a gift for someone–whether living in a care facility or not–is the hollowed-out pumpkin. Fill small jar with water and use as a vase inside empty pumpkin. Just add some chrysanthemums. They’ll think you came from the florist. And it will brighten up any room.

Holidays provide opportunities we can take advantage of– to jump-start aging parents and add some joy to their lives.

Related: Gifting Easily-decorated Halloween Pumpkins With Flowers and Whimsey Lifts Spirits of Aging Parents and Care-Center Elders 

                Halloween Treats (no tricks) for Aging Parents, Grandparents–Us Too! Includes going for rides to see displays and decorations–city and suburban
Halloween Front Yard


Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from respected universities–plus some fun stuff–to help parents age well.

Aging Parents: Prelude to Halloween continued…

Prelude to Halloweeen

Prelude to Halloween

People’s spirits can rise and fall based on something as simple as “weather.” We can understand this when thinking about the emotional fragility of the “frail and isolated elderly.” Yet down-days are also common for ordinary older people, whose lives have shrunk from a fast-forward, exhilarating younger pace to a slowdown-and boredom–in old age.

October’s weather can cause an avalanche of down days (although thankfully not this year in NY). Several dreary Octobers ago a prominent octogenarian couple I knew needed a cheery something. And I needed to visit them–but not empty-handed. Earlier that day I had gone food shopping. In the grocery store I saw the screwiest-looking pumpkin stem atop a lopsided-looking pumpkin. It made me laugh as I wondered who could ever carve a face on it. The whimsy got the better of me. I bought it; clueless about what to do with it.

You know my thinking next: If it makes me smile, why not take it to the old couple? How stupid/risky/outrageous is that? Here’s the first pumpkin I ever decorated as displayed on that October blog.   

Since then my creative endeavors often have some unanticipated small disaster. As you can see, the “screwy” part of the stem broke off during the decoration process. Only the lopsidedness remains. (And you’re the only ones who know how the stem should have looked.)

Now it’s October again, so yesterday I left NYC to do my decorated pumpkin for the 95 year-old widower of that original elderly couple–only this time in his kitchen. I brought 2 pumpkins (in case of disaster) and flowers, took glue gun and acorns, scissors and scarecrows. He was waiting for me in the study when I arrived, but seemed to have little energy for going into the kitchen to watch the decorating.

His caregiver got into the act quickly since I’d forgotten the skewers needed to poke deep holes in the pumpkin so flower stems could benefit from the liquid around the seeds inside (and last longer). He found an old fondue fork and I found that a good stab by him at the place I designated worked as well as the turkey skewer–perhaps better for the wide chrysanthemum stems.

We worked as a team. After 5 minutes the larger pumpkin (at top), was finished. He asked if we could do the small one. By this time he was helping with the decoration and suggested the acorn. Giving his approval to one of the places I suggested, we glued it. Finished product–

My elderly friend loved them and remembered they would last, no doubt until Halloween. His caregiver kept telling me how much he loved helping and spent a while taking pictures with his cell phone.
*              *                 *
Bottom line: It’s always rewarding to do something that makes an older person happy. This was a win, win, win– for my elderly friend, his caregiver, and me.
                              Things that lift the spirit help parents age well
 
Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely tips, information and research from top universities. respected professionals and selected publications–to help parents age well.
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Related: “Halloween Posts”– Clck tab above under heading

Halloween Treats (No Tricks) for Aging Parents, Grandparents—Us too!

Suburban Front Yard


Halloween decorations are becoming as widespread as the colorful trappings associated with the December holiday season. They’re very different than the orange, carved, candle-lit pumpkins–and perhaps a black cat or witch– sitting on the front porches of our childhood.

Various shaped and even white-creamy-colored–pumpkins, along with over-sized air-filled pumpkins, plus ghosts and witches, are common sights.  More and more suburban and urban homes and townhouses, farm stands and commercial establishments now dress up for Halloween.

New York City Townhouse

Isn’t this a perfect time to take older people out for a great change of scenery? How many old and/or somewhat infirmed people spend most of their time indoors–at home or in assisted living or more structured care facilities… and rarely get out?  Still others don’t drive on unfamiliar roads or at night, when the lighted Halloween displays create a different mood. For older people who are able to get into a car, going for a ride provides countless opportunities to lift their spirits and add stimulation to their lives. 

Yesterday was a dreary day–mostly overcast–yet we had smiles on our faces as we scouted neighborhoods for Halloween displays. The local farm stand harkened back to the past. A drive to the country is clearly a change of pace for city dwellers.  Yet any drive that takes older people out of the same-ole, same-ole and treats them to new sights, is a win-win: new adventures, new things to think about and, of course, companionship.

Farm stand’s Chrysanthemums with Tractors in Background

We may have limited free time (or the elderly may have limited staying power), yet making time for even a short drive into town can yield surprises like the store windows in this village, artfully covered with entries in the village-sponsored Halloween painting contest for grade school youngsters. If time constraints dictate a short drive, explore the streets of a nearby neighborhood. Chances are there are visual treats everywhere.
A dry run to do the initial scouting has worked best for me. I then know the preferred route for a quickie drive when time and energy are in short supply. And taking someone along for the dry run turns out to be an unexpected treat. The drive turns into a sort of treasure hunt as we look for–and prioritize–the best displays.
Even when the relationship with our parents is “ify,” and thoughts of being confined in a car together for an extended period of time makes us hesitate, the focus on Halloween displays just naturally dominates the atmosphere and the conversation, making for a good time together.

Indeed, these drives are no doubt worth the time and effort. Major studies confirm that connections with others and stimulation are important factors in aging well. Taking older people out for a drive–or pushing their wheelchair past townhouses in New York City– no doubt contributes to their well-being.

New York City Townhouse

Aging plays so many unexpected tricks on older people.  Isn’t is great when we can easily give them a treat!