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.

Aging Parents: Feel-Good Outing Ideas~ After A Long, Cold Winter

2013 Philadelphia Flower Show

2013 Philadelphia Flower Show

Feel-good Outings

Aging parents needn’t be couch potatoes to feel depression or cabin fever due to a harsh winter. It’s easy for anyone! Cold, an absence of sunshine, and slippery sidewalks can make anyone feel cranky, if not depressed. “Trapped in the house,” “Looking at the four walls.” I’ve heard these expressions from elders, no doubt so have you.

And “cranky” may not go away easily. Negatives like a bad health diagnosis, another friend’s problem,  the world’s problems, not to mention loss of a friend, pet, or part of a support system (dentist, hair dresser) add to being miserable.

If one is clinically depressed, we’re dealing with something entirely different and it needs to be checked out with a parent’s physician. If it’s crankiness, however, getting out of the house for something interesting, different, fun and/or entertaining can make a difference. And if we introduce the plan ahead of time, elders can look forward to the event for many days, which helps lift spirits. Sr. Advisor R calls that “a carrot.”

Always dependable: a movie (not Netflix in this instance) out of the house, at the theater…not far away. Smell (eat?) the popcorn, fall asleep if necessary in a comfortable seat, escape the unhappy present temporarily for the screen’s environment.

For feel-good outings and (depending on where you live) a farther-away destination with aging parents, consider:

1. Heard Indian Market, March 1 and 2 in Phoenix, Arizona. Escape the winter weather.  A jacket or sweater suffices in the early morning; by mid-morning be ready to shed it.  Indian Market offers outdoor entertainment (dance, music), good food, exhibitions of basket making, weaving, pottery, jewelry making… And there’s no better place to view a huge assortment of–and purchase–fine crafts, inexpensive to very expensive, from over 600 American Indians. Although I’ve seen people in wheel chairs, aging parents with decent mobility do better. The market is set up in the very large parking area and the adjoining open space of the Heard Museum.

2. The Philadelphia Flower Show--March 1-9: the biggest Flower Shows in the US is, on the other hand, handicap accessible. And it’s glorious! Being totally surrounded in the Convention Center by Spring, in Winter–especially this year–is priceless.  (Wheelchairs are for rent until they run out.)

That said, check out membership. Dual membership comes with 2 free tickets and that’s a savings; but what I especially like is being able to rest in comfortable chairs and have free tea and/or coffee in the Members’ Lounge, as opposed to sitting on the hard folding chairs along the walls at the perimeter of the show. The show is so big, everyone takes a break at some point.

3. Portland Flower Show,  “Storybook Gardens,” March 6-9 in Maine. Website is currently being updated so come back soon for more info.

4. The Boston Flower and Garden Show, March 12-15, at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. Have heard wonderful reports in past years. Over 150 home and garden vendors, huge display gardens, horticulture society representation, and garden lectures this year. Limited wheelchairs on a first come, first serve basis.

4. Chicago Flower and Garden Show, March 15-23, is the last of the early East and Mid-West Flower Shows.

5. San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, March 16-23 in San Mateo, Calif. Looks good.

6. The Coronado (Calif) Flower Show,  April 27-29, is no doubt wonderful.  The San Diego area is a gardener’s paradise. And the landscape at Balboa Park, where the famous San Diego zoo is located and not far from Coronado, is horticulturally gorgeous. Simply being in the Coronado/La Jolla area can lift the spirit.
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If flowers aren’t for everyone, what about auto and boat shows to help elders forget winter and look forward? Check out the 2014 Auto Shows of North America Schedule. Also check out the boatshows.com calendar. Some boat shows have just begun–or are about to begin now–including:

1. New England Boat Show (Boston) Feb. 22-March 2
2. St. Louis Boat and Sportshow (Feb. 26-March 2)

Related:
There’s a World Flower Show in Dublin, Ireland March 18-22
Philadelphia Flower Show preview video
A look at last year’s Chicago Flower and Garden Show
More Philadelphia Flower Show specifics

Changing often: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Timely links to research and information from top universities, plus some fun stuff to help parents age well.

Entertaining Aging Parents: Destination Outings and Short Drives

  WHERE?  A drive of an hour (more or less) offers a change of scenery–a beautiful view from any coast, lake, or river, plus a perfect setting for lunch (or picnic if doable) with aging parents. (Remember the water and sunscreen.)

Touristy or not natural attractions take people out of themselves, into what’s real. Clearly a change for aging parents who don’t drive much–or at all.

For example, I think of Multnomah Falls (Columbia River Highway out of Portland, Oregon), which Sr. Advisor, R, visited with us 2 summers ago, when she was 95. Loved the drive along the river, the falls is spectacular, and the restaurant lovely (check to see if reservations are advised)…or take a picnic.

Last weekend, for example, we were in Massachusetts–the Stockbridge, Lenox, Williamstown, Bennington area–all within a short driving distance. Lots of art, music, plus theater and dance. (Such options may be near you.)

We attended two Tanglewood performances–the Boston Symphony at night; the Boston Pops on Sunday afternoon. These kinds of concerts attract older people–lots of gray hair and canes and a few bus tours at night; loads of walkers, wheelchairs, canes as well as an uncountable number of buses, clearly marked “Senior Tours” for the daytime Boston Pops.

It seems loads of aging parents and grandparents enjoy summer music outings; so many take day bus tours.  An older woman in front of me proudly told me she had driven herself to the Sunday concert. She lived close and was soon joined by the 40-something (thoughtful) neighbors, who often give her a ticket.

Culture abounds: The Clark museum (Williamstown, Mass. photo above plus link to slideshow)– world-class paintings, user-friendly for older people (handicap accessible, wheelchairs, elevators, benches, excellent cafe). The  Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. and the Bennington Museum in Vermont with its Grandma Moses collection, are gems. The latter should be uplifting. Grandma Moses was still painting at 100.

When living near parents, driving them to small towns they used to frequent but don’t drive to any more, is a welcome outing…sometimes perhaps they can bring a friend. I know Sr. Advisor, R, has a friend whose daughter often includes R in short outings. She has a wonderful time–it means so much to her…and she usually treats them to lunch.

Zoos, local museums, a drive around the old neighborhood (past their old school if it’s still standing), a picnic in a park, an unexpected trip to the mall–the options are only limited by our imagination and, I guess, finances. A destination outing or a simple drive with lunch or a midday meal helps parents age well–gives older people a lift–something to think and talk about. And we too can enjoy that.

Check out: “Of Current Interest” (right sidebar). Research and information from highly respected universities and resources–plus some practical stuff–to help parents age well.