Day Trips for Assisted Living Residents

Day Trips for Assisted Living Residents

Assisted living facilities allow seniors to strike a balance between the autonomy of living on their own, and the safety of living where staff is on hand to meet some of their needs. Surrounded by other seniors, residents can thrive with good company and plenty of social events.

Despite this, some people still find assisted living facilities isolating. It’s important for everyone to get out of the house sometimes, and seniors are no exception. Here’s a list of what to look for when choosing a day trip for assisted living residents, and a few examples of places you might take your friend or family member.

Choosing the Right Place

There are a number of criteria to take into account when planning a day trip for seniors. Here’s an extensive, but by no means exhaustive, list of criteria to consider when planning your trip.

Is the senior interested in going? Surprisingly, many people leave out this criterion when planning a day trip. It’s not enough for the organizer or planner to think it’s interesting: if the seniors who will be on the trip aren’t interested in the site, they won’t sign up to go, or they’ll only go under duress. Ask your friend or family member what they’d like to do, and keep them involved during the planning process.

Is the place physically or emotionally taxing? A senior who needs the assistance their living facility provides may not be up for low-impact sports, long walks, or other physical activities. If your friend or loved one has memory or cognitive problems, they may find busy or fast-paced environments overwhelming. Different seniors will have different abilities, so realistically assess your senior’s abilities, then choose a setting that meets their needs.

Is the place wheelchair or walker -accessible? Many seniors will need a walker or wheelchair to move around, especially for long periods of time. Thanks to the ADA, many facilities are better to accommodate seniors’ needs, but even many allegedly accessible facilities may have stairs or narrow walkways that are difficult to navigate. Head out to the location on your own and scout it with an eye toward accessibility.

Try researching locations in your area, and ask your senior friend or loved one if any of these sound like they’d be interesting:

Enjoy a special event

Especially in warmer months, many cities and towns have street fairs and other seasonal or local attractions. These events liven up the season and provide your senior with something to look forward to each year. As a bonus, because many of these will be on sidewalks or closed-off streets, they’re more likely to be accessible for walkers and wheelchairs.

Visit a museum 

Museums generally have a slower pace than other environments, with plenty of room to navigate walkers and wheelchairs, and many opportunities to sit down and rest. Art or interesting exhibits, will engage curiosity and enrich themselves beyond life at their assisted living facility usually allows. Because most museums are self-directed, you can spend time at the exhibits interest them.

Go to a park

When the weather’s nice, this is a great way to get outside into the sun. Make sure to choose a park with accessible walking paths, plenty of places to stop and rest, and bathroom facilities. Pack a picnic lunch or bring binoculars for some bird watching. 

Take a class 

Low-impact yoga or other fitness activities, an arts or crafts class, are terrific ways to enrich your senior’s experience. A weekly class is a great way to get out of the house, but even a day class can be enough to cheer them up.

Head out to some entertainment

Low-key attractions like movies or concerts is a nice way to experience something new. Most communities offer plenty of options to meet any senior’s tastes. These activities are low-impact: all you need to enjoy them is settle back and relax.

Planning for Your Outing

While more active seniors may be able to choose an activity and leave the same day, many assisted living residents will require more planning before heading out on a trip.

Here are some tips to help your senior plan for their excursion:

First, plan the event well in advance, and allow plenty of time to prep. No one likes to feel rushed, and if you’re pushing someone out the door they may feel like their trip is more of a burden than something special.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you have everything you’ll need. Make a checklist in advance. Be sure to have food, water, sunblock, medications, and anything else you may need.

Finally, don’t let this trip shake up their routine too much. Especially if your loved one lives with Alzheimer’s or a comparable condition, the change of a day trip may leave them feeling a little rattled. Give them plenty of time to adjust to the idea of heading out, and make sure they’re back to their normal routine the following day.

A day trip is a great way to add some variety to the life. By planning ahead and choosing an activity that’s accessible and interesting, you’ll both have a wonderful time.

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