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.

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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.

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