Outing Ideas for Nursing Home Visits
When’s the last time you planned a field trip with someone you love? If you can’t remember, consider making an outing part of your next nursing home visit. Outings of an hour or two can help alleviate boredom, spark new conversations, and help nursing home residents stay connected to their community. Most nursing homes offer some sort of group outings for residents, but dining out, a gallery visit, or a simple walk around the block with your relative or friend can be welcome activities, too.
Tips for a successful outing
- Check with the nursing home staff on their outing policy and to ensure that staff members know where you’re going and when you’ll return.
- Make sure it’s something your friend or relative really wants to do and is able to do; while outings can be refreshing, unfamiliar surroundings can distress some people, especially if they have memory problems.
- Bring everything you’ll need: medications, mobility aids, adult undergarments, etc.
- If you’ll need to help move your loved one from a chair to your vehicle, make sure you’re capable of doing that in a way that’s safe for both of you. If you’re not sure how, this video offers a step by step guide.
- Give yourself plenty of time to allow for car transfers, slower mobility, and a leisurely pace.
Obviously, if you’re spending time with someone who has a serious hobby, you can tailor outings to that interest. Dog shows, botanical gardens, hobby shops and galleries are all ways to engage pet and plant lovers, craftspeople, and artists. For people without a particular passion, there are lots of other options for an afternoon or evening out.
Even if the community takes residents for regular shopping trips, your loved one may prefer a quieter outing with more time to browse and make custom stops along the way.
Go to class.
Most senior communities offer fitness and craft classes, but adult education or senior center classes in the community can give you a reason for regular outings, perhaps with dinner or ice cream as part of the deal.
If you live in an area with any sort of attraction or tourist district, consider a visit. Local festivals can be fun as well.
Pass the time at the park.
During good weather, people-watching and bird-feeding can be relaxing. Choose a park with accessible restrooms and shaded seating.
Dining out, especially if friends join you, is usually a pleasant way to pass an hour or two. Get up to speed on your loved one’s dietary restrictions before you choose a restaurant, and pick a time when the place isn’t crowded so you can hear each other more easily.
Listen to live music.
Restaurants with house bands are ideal venues for an evening out, because you’ve got a table, accessible restrooms, food and drink, and the ability to leave whenever you like.
Almost all senior communities have religious services on site, but your relative or friend may prefer to attend services with her long-time congregation, both for spiritual and social time. Be sure to allow time for pre-and post-service coffee and chat.
If transport by car is impossible, just going outdoors can be fun. When my great-uncle’s health problems ruled out car rides, my great-aunt wheeled him outdoors for daily strolls. She would trot with his wheelchair while he laughed and called out encouragement — a fitting fun activity for a couple who’d met at a roller skating party seven decades earlier, and proof that even a simple change of scene can deliver delight.