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.