As the summer comes to an end and the leaves begin to change, the fall season brings plenty of opportunities for seniors to make new memories with their loved ones and friends. Seniors who enjoy gardening can plant mums, asters, and bulbs for the upcoming spring season. The crisp air and fall foliage makes walks more enjoyable, and let’s not forget how fun it can be to watch a grandchild make that tackle or touchdown as football season begins.
With fall comes the first big celebration of the holiday season – Halloween. Whether a senior lives at home or in an assisted-living facility, there are many ways to get into the Halloween spirit. One classic décor idea is carving a jack-o-lantern, but seniors can also paint pumpkins as an easier and safer alternative to carving. There are many fall decorations and recipes, like the following, that seniors can easily make to enjoy the season.
Simple Spiced Apple Cider
• 4-5 cups apple juice
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• cinnamon sticks and apple slices to garnish
In a small pot heat the apple juice and spices over low/medium heat. Stir often while the mixture heats up to blend the spices into the juice to avoid any spice clumps. Once the mixture is hot, pour into two mugs and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks. Serve warm.
Source: Emma Chapman, abeautifulmess.com
The following ideas are easy crafts that require few materials and steps, making them perfect for seniors to make with their friends and family. These crafts can be used to decorate a senior’s home or assisted-living facility for the fall season and Halloween.
Colorful Corn Characters
• Colorful corn stalks
• Raffia or festive ribbon
• Twisty tie, rubber band, or string
• Googly eyes
• Pom pom or candy for nose
• Squirt paint or acrylic paint and brush
• Glue gun or craft glue
Gather the corn stalks together at the top and bind them together with the twisty tie, rubber band, or string. The hide that with raffia or the festive ribbon. Spread out the corn leaves. Next, add a face to the corn by gluing on the googly eyes and nose. Paint on a smile to finish the look. The corn characters can be hung up, added to a fall centerpiece, or simply propped up against a wall. They can also be given away to friends.
Pumpkin Guy (or Gal)
• Small pumpkin
• Acrylic paints in various colors
• Black fine-tip marker
• Spanish moss or curly ribbon for hair
• Paint brush, water container
• Plastic picnic plate
• Craft glue
• Stand for pumpkin
First, paint the pumpkin’s face using acrylic paint. Pour paint colors onto plastic plate to make a pallete. Use white paint to make ovals for eyes, and red paint for the cheeks. Use black paint or a black fine-tip marker to add a smile, nose, and eyebrows. For a pumpkin gal, you can make the cheeks pink and add eyelashes with the marker. Next, add small dabs of glue around the pumpkin stem and press on Spanish moss or curly ribbon to make the hair. Long, round-tipped pins can be used to help hair hold in place too. Set pumpkin on its stand (i.e. a jar lid or small dish) and add accessories. For a pumpkin guy, use an old bowtie or shirt collar. For a pumpkin gal, add a bow to the hair or even a necklace.
One Halloween tradition that brings together the young and old is trick-or-treating. With the above décor ideas, seniors will be ready to celebrate as local children arrive at their doors in costumes. Many assisted-living facilities invite young trick-or-treaters to visit and receive candy so that their elderly residents can still participate in the holiday fun. However, a new trend is bringing the Halloween fun to the seniors themselves.
Every year at Halloween, the students of Bright Beginnings Preschool in San Clemente, California, visit local assisted-living facilities dressed up as their favorite superheroes, princesses, characters, and more. However, they are not looking to fill their bags with candy. In a reverse form of trick-or-treating, the children bring candy to give to the elderly residents.
Katie Bright, owner of Bright Beginnings Preschool, said the elderly residents are so happy that the children come to remind them that it is Halloween. Many of them are surprised when the children offer them candy and say “It’s not for me; it’s for you!”
“If we go back to the same place the next year, they will say ‘Oh, you’re the kids that gave us candy!’ They remember that it was something different,” Katie said.
Katie said they are sure to tell the children not to just give a senior candy and then run off. The children will take the opportunity to ask the seniors how they are and make conversation with them, usually asking about their children and grandchildren. Sometimes the children will even sing songs for the residents, share a meal with them, or play games with them like miniature golf.
Even though the children still get to take home some candy for themselves, they have the opportunity to see how giving can bless people, which is especially important during the holiday season, according to Katie. “The idea of ‘get, get, get’ starts now and doesn’t end until New Year’s,” she said. “We can switch that around and make Halloween more of a blessing. It’s a chance for them to be on the other end of it. They get to see how it feels to be a giver.”
Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.