Beyond Pumpkin Picking: Fall Activities for a Senior Community


Apple and pumpkin picking are staples of this season, and can put a smile on the faces of young and old, alike. But why not consider several other fun, seasonal activities for your independent senior living, senior day care, or assisted living community this year? Here are a few suggestions.

Pumpkin Launch
If your senior community borders a lake or has a lake on the property, even a small one, you can plan a pumpkin launch as an activity that seniors and their families can enjoy together. Pumpkin carving may be difficult for seniors suffering from arthritis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or other ailments, but there’s no reason adult children or volunteers can’t help carve the pumpkins based on the seniors’ direction or choice of template.

Immediately after dark, place a tealight inside each pumpkin and send them floating off across the lake or down the river. It’s truly a sight to behold. Some pumpkin launches include other festivities preceding the launch, which can include a group walk around the lake, or a picnic with seasonal foods including (you guessed it!) pumpkin pie.

Trick or Treating
We’re not suggesting you send the seniors in your care knocking door to door. Provide them with a supply of Halloween candy or small toys, and invite senior facility staff to bring their children, in their Halloween costumes, trick or treating through the senior home. Alternatively, you can team up with a local elementary school PTA or Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop to invite the kids to come trick or treating as an after school activity. It doesn’t even have to be on Halloween, but can be the day before, the day after, or Halloween weekend. Kids love an extra opportunity to dress up in their costumes and score even more goodies … and seniors who may miss this Halloween tradition have the chance to spread joy (and sugar rushes) to children and then send them back to their parents.

Fall Foliage Tour
If your senior community is based in the Northeast, Midwest or anywhere else with four distinct seasons (and especially New England!) plan a foliage tour before all those multi-colored leaves fall from the trees. If you’re fortunate, you may not even need to leave your senior community’s grounds to enjoy the picturesque landscape. Encourage seniors to bring their own cameras or provide disposable digital cameras for the event. A few days after the foliage tour, invite participants to the senior community computer lab to edit and print their favorite images. In fact, a foliage tour could be a fun part of a senior community adult education digital photography class. You could also host a scrapbooking night so seniors can share their digital memories in unique ways. Don’t forget to include real leaves, acorns and other signs of the season on the scrapbook pages.

Apple Pie Bake-Off
Fall festivals across your region are likely to have pie contests open to bakers of all ages. But the seniors in your community will enjoy the opportunity to share old family recipes with their peers. Gather in your senior community kitchen and hold an apple pie baking night; this could be a logical follow-up to an apple picking field trip. Each contestant should bake two pies. The next day when the pies have cooled, let the judges (either staff or other residents of the senior community) vote for their favorite. Serve the remaining pies for dessert for everyone.

Field Trips to Fall Festivals
Don’t forget to take advantage of events like Fall Festivals and Harvest Gatherings in your community or at least be sure to provide transportation to these events for healthy, independent seniors who would like to attend on their own.
There’s plenty to do outdoors this time of year as we gear up for the cold and the longer winter nights when most senior community activities will take place indoors.

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