Now that gorgeous fall weather is approaching, it's time to get our elders outdoors to enjoy the waning seasonal sunshine and beautiful foliage. Even reluctant older people can be coaxed outside with the right types of support and incentives.
Take it easy.
Start slow with an outside walk. Stay in the local area that will be familiar. Walk at a comfortable pace so the older person can easily keep step, and don't walk more than ten or fifteen minutes at first to see how it goes. Be patient if your aging loved one wants to stop and look around or sit on a park bench for a while.
Depending on the weather forecast and likelihood of chill or rain, take along a sweater or jacket and an umbrella. If the senior is used to having a snack during the time you'll be outdoors, take one with you. Make sure nothing important will be missed, like medicine or mealtime.
Make it interesting.
Point out fun scenes, like kids jumping in the leaves or a flock of geese flying south. Stop at a favorite shop for a newspaper or browse a farmer's market for fresh fruit. Plan for a special event by visiting an orchard or feeding the birds at a local park. Ask the elder to share favorite fall memories during the outdoor activities.
Involve the elder in planning.
Depending on the senior's cognition level, encourage them to pick an outdoor activity they will enjoy. Suggest packing a picnic lunch or visiting the zoo. Invite relatives or friends to come along, and dress up in seasonal clothes like a colorful autumn vest or favorite hoodie.
Try to establish a routine of regular outdoor time, perhaps several afternoons per week, so that it feels natural and even desirable. Afterward, a hot cup of tea or glass of lemonade adds a rewarding finale. Sunshine, fresh air, and exercise help everyone feel better, and elders benefit, too.