6 Easy Outings for Mobility-Challenged Aging Parents and Others

Mobility-challenged elders often remain confined to their homes, except for periodic trips to doctors

Do we instinctively visit aging parents who are mobility-challenged….as opposed to taking them out? I’m guessing it’s easier to visit and bring goodies or grandchildren than to round up older people’s paraphernalia and navigate putting it–and helping them–into a car for a short outing.

On the other hand, early in the life cycle, we drag buggies, strollers, and additional paraphernalia– making certain efforts

Mom, toddler, stroller and “stuff” navigating the NY subway…not easy!

for infants and toddlers that many of us neglect making for our parents in their later years.

We give these littles ones, pushed in their buggies and strollers, the stimulation of connecting to the outside world. They’re breathing fresh air, eyes following things of interest. On the other hand, don’t elders often look at the outside world through a window or the TV screen?

6 ideas for short outings that get aging parents out of the house

1.  Fall foliage: Go for a short drive and enjoy the splendor when it’s beautiful in your area. Leaf-peeping and people watching from a car does it!

2.  Halloween: Driving through neighborhoods showcases
not only pumpkins–but ghosts, witches, technological displays and  some surprises. These rides can be repeated many times exploring holiday decorations and lights in different blocks and neighborhoods …repeated again during the Christmas season.

3.  A movie, in a movie theater: perfect on a dark, cold, dreary day. Yes, Netflix etc. can be enjoyed in the comfort of one’s home; but that doesn’t offer the people-watching or the smell of freshly popped popcorn. (Check whether theaters have space allocated for wheelchairs.)

4.  A ride to the mall: ideal for people-watching, especially on a bad-weather day. It’s dry and warm inside, with options for eating–a nutritious–or not so nutritious–meal or snack….and shopping.

5.  A drive to a practical destination: for example the grocery store….an opportunity to make certain aging parents have needed supplies. Grocery shopping is a normal part of life and the heavy shopping cart provides stability and exercise for those who can walk.  Some larger stores have mechanized transport “vehicles” for cruising the aisles. Looking at products and people-watching is part of the fun for aging parents.

6.  Involving an aging parent in an act of daily living: (your ADL) that involves chauffering–picking up children/grandchildren from school or from an after-school activity.  Spirited youngsters, getting into the car after activities, are uplifting (most of the time).

Getting out of the house. Connecting to the outside world. Stimulation. Some exercise. A change of scenery helps aging parents and those who are mobility challenged feel they are participants in life–not merely observers.
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Note: The physical effort expended to get in and out of a car–if done correctly–is probably good for aging parents.  As always, when in doubt, check with your parent’s physician.

Check out “Newsworthy” (right sidebar). Links to timely information and research from top universities and respected professionals, plus practical information–to help parents age well.


Helping Parents Age Well With a Short Summer Outing

The Coast–The Shore
When it’s less than an hour and a half ride (usually doable for older people who may even sleep part of the way), a drive to the coast offers a change of scenery. Some say the sea air wets the appetite. No doubt fresh fish and clam chowder on the menu help.

Beach towns: attract people of all ages, usually have an abundance of restaurants, interesting shops, and places to stay. Even the smallest, quietest towns have a favorite eating spot.  Sticking a toe in the water, or walking barefoot in the sand–independently or on your arm–can be an added bonus for parents. Old-timers said saltwater was good for feet. Breathing the fresh air is another plus.

The options to help aging parents have a change of scenery are only limited by time and interest. Destinations to places of quiet and beauty, charming towns, museums, vineyards, or a ride in the country–are among the possibilities.

Lakes, rivers, mountains, and national parks offer so much natural beauty–with picnic tables at most places of scenic interest and/or dining in nearby small towns.  Major attractions like Multnomah Falls in the West (Columbia River Highway out of Portland, Oregon), may have a good restaurant (check to see if reservations are advised). Touristy or not these natural attractions take people “out of themselves” and into what’s real.  Clearly a change for aging parents who are inside most of the time and appreciate (or once appreciated) nature.

Driving with my parents to small towns they used to frequent near their home but didn’t get to any more, was a welcome outing.  And some towns, like the historic towns in New England, they loved. There are well-known towns like Saratoga Springs, NY (pretty town, famous horse racing track) that, depending on where parents live, can be a short outing to a popular destination.  Simply driving around those towns and having lunch or a midday meal, helps parents age well…gives them something to think and talk about for a long time.

Small museums in New England: The Clark’s world class paintings in Williamstown, Mass., 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.