Nearly 40 percent of seniors have at least one disability. Mobility issues are the most common disability for elders. This frustrating reality can make it difficult to spend enjoyable time together. Boisterous grandkids may want to run, while many seniors prefer a slower pace. Even for healthy seniors, aging can present significant limitations; they’re more vulnerable to heat-related injuries, and may be anxious about falling. Yet activities for elderly parents can be fun, meaningful, and even adventurous. Check out some of these family-friendly options:

Halloween-Themed Spookiness

Even seniors who once loved haunted houses may want to avoid them. Though fun and spooky, it’s easy to trip in the dark, or for seniors with heart conditions or anxiety to be overwhelmed by people jumping from apparently out of nowhere and by screams in the background. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some spooky Halloween fun. Try some of the following instead:

  • Plan a family ghost story night. Turn down the lights and ask each member to share their creepiest, scariest tales. Here are a few to get you started.
  • Go on a ghost tour. Many cities throughout the country offer tours of local haunted establishments. Some include transportation to multiple locations throughout the city.
  • Bundle up for a family scary movie night. Break out the apple cider, make some caramel apples, and enjoy being delightfully scared together.

Fall Pumpkin Patch

If late-night screams aren’t your family’s thing, you can still get into the festive fall spirit. Head to your local pumpkin patch and allow each family member to pick a pumpkin. Then head home for some pumpkin crafts. Try one of these:

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Family-Friendly Crafts

Try making some autumn-themed crafts that you can then use as decorations. Try a few of the following:

  • Buy a small dollhouse-making kit and a few Halloween miniatures. Turn the dollhouse into a spooky haunted house by painting it gray or black and putting some “gravestones” and pumpkins out front.
  • Try Halloween foam crafts. These craft kits are safe for kids of all ages. Head to your local craft store to find a pumpkin foam set or haunted house to build from foam.
  • Make a Thanksgiving centerpiece. This can be as simple as a candle in a painted jar or as complex as a giant arrangement filled with flowers and candles. Try these kid-friendly ideas, or if the senior in your life is an artist, follow their lead.

Indoor Gardening

In most areas of the country, fall means the end of the gardening season. Try bringing the garden indoors to continue dabbling in botany all year. Some simple ideas include:

  • Planting an indoor herb garden in a long tray, then installing it in a windowsill.
  • Painting a large ceramic pot, then turning it into a succulent garden.
  • Mastering the art of growing succulents. A single succulent plant can make hundreds of new plants. It’s a great lesson in botany for kids. Learn more about how seniors and kids can propagate succulents here.

Outdoor Activities

Crisp fall weather presents an ideal time to go hiking. Seniors who are still able-bodied may relish a family hike. For just $80, the senior in your life can get a lifetime pass to all National Parks. Some other great outdoor activities include:

  • Building a fire—indoors in a fireplace or outdoors in a firepit—and making s’mores.
  • Planning the perfect family photo. Bright autumn leaves and pumpkins offer a great backdrop for a family photo. Schedule a session with a local photographer, or plan your own photo shoot. Then build a family photo album when you get the photos.
  • Letting the grandkids lead the way. It’s easy to feel pressured to plan a structured activity, but many seniors just want time with their grandkids. Kids can be wonderfully creative with just a little help. So head to the local playground and let them run wild. Or give them a pile of old clothes and watch them play outdoor dress-up. Fun is fun—even if it’s not in the form of a photo-perfect fall activity.

The right senior living community can offer daily activities, family outings, and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is safe and able to enjoy their life. Your local senior living community may also have ideas for family-friendly activities. To learn more about senior living options for you or your loved ones, check out our free guide, The Journey to Senior Living.

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