We all know that spending time outdoors is beneficial for our physical and mental health. For seniors, there are even more benefits.
Yet, it’s vital to consider an elderly individual’s physical capabilities for organizing a fun and safe trip. We’ll be looking at 20 of the best outdoor activities for seniors.
Why Should Seniors Engage in Outings?
Many seniors tend to stay indoors due to their physical limitations or lifestyle changes. Getting out and about with a wheelchair can seem like a tremendous burden, and a lack of a regular job erases any essential need to get outside regularily.
However, remaining at home – often alone – can contribute to ailing health, depression, and memory loss.
According to the Elder Care Alliance, regular time outdoors increases seniors’ level of vitamin D, which helps eliminate joint pain, inflammation, and diabetes. Plus, being around other people can significantly improve their mental well-being.
Some other benefits include:
- Improved immune system
- Quicker recovery time from an illness
- Reduced stress
- Safe exercise
Elderly Outing Tips & Tricks
As you consider enjoying the great outdoors yourself or with a senior friend, assess the level of difficulty the outing poses. Take the time to plan a stress-free trip that you can both handle physically. You want to give them a joyous and fun time, not a new cause of frustration.
The last thing you want is to plan an exciting outing and then find that the destination is undesirable and be forced to turn around!
Avoid areas that are not handicap accessible or have dangerous, uneven ground. Make sure you do some online research beforehand. You can do this by:
- Reading site location reviews on Google Maps
- Reading reviews on Yelp
- Calling the business and asking for more information
- Visiting the location yourself beforehand
If you’re not sure, you can call the business or visit yourself to scope out the area.
Pack a “Go Bag”
Old age, unfortunately, comes with physical decline. Many seniors have important medications, an oxygen tank, or hearing aids that they need to carry. Before you leave, pack a “go bag” for yourself or the senior you’re taking.
Include any medicine or aids that you may need while spending time outdoors. Also pack any other essentials an elderly individual might need, such as:
- Seating pad / pillow
- A comfy blanket
- Tissues, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer
The weather can be fickle, so make sure you check the forecast before you leave. If there is a chance the weather might cool down or even rain, pack a sweater and umbrella in the senior’s “go bag.”
Also, make sure they have the right shoes and support stockings if they plan to go walking.
Avoid Memory Tests
When you see friends or acquaintances, don’t pressure a senior for names or stories. When you ask a senior if they remember someone, it can be incredibly embarrassing if they can’t recall that person’s name or how they previously met.
Instead, introduce them again. If the senior remembers the person, they may say so, but there is no pressure for them to remember.
Outdoor Activities for Seniors
Now that you know how to prepare for an outdoor activity with seniors, let’s look at some of the best places to go. As you review the following list, remember the senior’s physical and mental capabilities. Be sure to choose a fun, non-strenuous activity for your elderly friend or relative.
1. Shopping Trip at the Mall
Malls are a fantastic place to spend a quiet afternoon. The broad, flat surfaces allow for easy walking and wheelchair access. Plus, there are plenty of shopping and eating options for you to choose from if you wish.
Even so, there is no need to buy anything. Taking a walk around the mall and window shopping can be quite enjoyable. Malls typically have plenty of benches where you or an older adult can rest if they need to.
While indoor malls are likely the most common, there are also plenty of outdoor malls that seniors who prefer to stay outdoors can navigate with ease.
2. Rec Center Fitness Class
For some healthy exercise, take a senior to an outdoor fitness class. There are usually several options for older people looking to get out and moving. A great, simple choice is water aerobics, as it makes it easier to move and stretch.
Don’t forget to do your research beforehand! Ask about the available classes’ difficulty level. Choose an exercise class that will be the safest and most appropriate option for the senior.
3. Visit a Community Garden
While being outside is always lovely, there is something special about spending time in nature. The smell of the flowers and the sound of birds helps calm a person’s mind.
Taking a senior to the local community garden can help brighten their mood and they may be able to help with planting or even get their own community plot to tend to regularly. Just be aware of any uneven ground or cracked sidewalks that could cause an elderly individual to trip and fall.
4. Walk Through a Local Park
Parks and botanical gardens can be a breath of fresh air – literally! The wide-open fields and picturesque paths are good for the soul.
If you would like to go walking and enjoy the nice weather, check out the trails before going. Look for the flattest trail options that will be easy to navigate. Any bumps or hills could be a point of frustration or a potential hazard for an older individual.
If long walks aren’t an option, other park activities can include sitting by the pond, feeding the ducks, and reveling in nature’s beauty on a nearby park bench.
5. Have a Picnic
Activities for seniors don’t need to include lots of walking. If you would like to take them to the park and rest, plan a picnic! Instead of sitting on the ground, bring comfortable folding chairs, a folding table, and/or cushions for the park benches.
Make sure you ask your company about any dietary restrictions so that you can provide safe, delicious food. Extra blankets and pillows are also a good idea for a more comfortable setting.
6. Bird Watching
If you want to avoid uneven ground and walkways, try bird watching. Take an elder adult to a park, garden, or just the side of the road and observe nature with them.
If the senior uses a wheelchair and struggles with transportation, you can even stay in the car and enjoy the birds from that vantage point.
A beginner bird watcher just need a proper field guide (we suggest National Geographic’s Birds of North America) and a set of binoculars (the Celestron is a budget-friendly option for beginners).
There are also great smartphone apps (such as Audobon and Merlin) where fellow birders can share information on the best bird-watching spots locally near you.
There are many avid older birders, so birding can prove to be a good socializing activity as well once you’ve discovered the regular, most popular birding spots and continue to bump into fellow neighborhood birders!
7. Trip to the Zoo
While the zoo may seem like an attraction mainly for children, it can be incredibly enjoyable for adults and seniors as well. As you walk around and observe the animals, engage the senior in conversation – there’s plenty to talk about when observing such unique wildlife!
You could even ask them about when they went to the zoo as a child and any other precious memories they have. Plus, zoos tend to be composed of flat surfaces that are easy to navigate with a wheelchair or stroller.
Petting zoos also offer an option for interactive engagement, and the tactile experience of petting soft, furry animals can be fun and relaxing for older seniors.
8. Apple or Berry Picking
If you are looking for unique activities for seniors, try visiting your local orchard!
Picking apples and berries requires some physical activity, but it’s usually fairly limited. There are also usually hayrides to give your feet a break. During the fall, pumpkin patches are also a fantastic u-pick choice.
Be sure to call ahead and ask about the terrain to see if your senior friend (or you) could easily walk around. Some orchards are more hilly than others.
U-Pick orchards also tend to be frequented by young families, and may elderly individuals may enjoy watching kids play and run about.
9. Visit an Animal Shelter
Like the positive effect of the sun, spending time with furry animals can reduce stress and depression. If a senior loves cats and dogs, ask the local shelter if there are gentle animals that they could interact with for a while.
The animals will love being out of their crates, and the seniors will enjoy cuddles and a possible walk.
10. Farmer’s Market
A farmer’s market offers many colors, tastes, and smells for a senior to enjoy. Even if you don’t need to buy anything, experiencing the market’s vividness can be exhilarating.
11. Craft Show
Like the farmer’s market, a craft show is a fun activity that will provide light exercise and plenty to observe for any senior.
Plus, looking at all the beautiful handmade objects may inspire older adults to go home and try their hand at some of their own crafts!
12. Eat Out at an Outdoor Restaurant
Great outings for seniors can be as simple as inviting them to their favorite outdoor restaurant. Still, make sure that the business is accommodating for seniors.
Research the restaurant’s wheelchair accessibility and the style of seating. If all outdoor tables have wooden or iron chairs, you may need to look for a restaurant with more padded seating.
You could also pack cushions in the “go bag” if necessary. Also, be ready to help the senior review the menu and find an option that works with their diet.
For a more physical senior outing, take the whole family to play mini-golf with grandma or grandpa. This trip is a great way to get in a little exercise and spend time with the entire family.
Plus, if your senior friend or relative used to love golf, this is the perfect way for them to practice their skills without so much rigorous activity. Mini golf doesn’t require too much energy or stamina, making it a great alternative to a full round of traditional gold.
Another slightly physical activity for seniors is fishing. While they’ll likely spend most of the time sitting, fishing still requires dexterity and casting a line. This peaceful activity is not too strenuous and can be an excellent way for a senior to clear their mind while being in nature.
15. Boat Ride
If a senior loves water but isn’t up to fishing, a short boat ride could be an excellent compromise. Take them out on a calm lake or pond and talk about their life while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
Boats can vary in how handicap-friendly they are. Opt for larger, flat-style boats, and be sure to call ahead to ask about the boat’s handicap access options and how rough the waters get on a normal trip.
16. Outdoor Sculpture Park
Sculpture gardens offer quiet, tranquil spaces where a senior can walk around, experience nature, and enjoy the art. Sculpture gardens are especially intriguing for elderly individuals who have a love of the arts.
Be sure to do some light research regarding the terrain (although many sculpture gardens tend to be in fairly flat locations) and try to get some information on the various sculptures’ meaning or artist statements to make the trip even more interesting!
17. Drive-in Movie
One outdoor activity for seniors that requires no strenuous movement is a drive-in movie. Plus, the environment may be reminiscent of their younger days.
Don’t forget to pack a sweater, blanket, and plenty of snacks that coincide with the senior’s dietary restrictions.
Who doesn’t love an exciting game of Bingo? Pack up some seat cushions and join your senior friend at your local Bingo night. The interaction with friends will help counteract any feelings of loneliness.
19. Church Activities
Many seniors take part in their church’s activities and enjoy friendly fellowship. If they have trouble getting there on their own, accompany them with the handy “go bag.” Getting out and seeing their friends can significantly improve a senior’s health.
Many churches offer a variety of outdoor and indoor activities, such as knitting, painting, outdoor potlucks, etc.
20. Outdoor Music Performances
Music is a significant part of many people’s lives, so why not take a senior to an outdoor concert? Look for music that they would enjoy, like big band groups, and pack comfy chairs and blankets for the big night.
Fall Outdoor Activities for Senior During COVID
Which one of these outdoor activities for seniors is your favorite? If you have gone on an outing with a senior, please tell us about it in the comments below!