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 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!