Outing Ideas for Nursing Home VisitsNursing 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.

Go shopping.

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.

Play tourist.

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.

Do lunch.

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.

Get spiritual.

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.

Casey Kelly-Barton is an Austin-based freelance writer whose childhood was made awesome by her grandmothers, great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, and their friends.


  1. Veronica Marks December 28, 2015 Reply

    I love the idea to play tourist, especially because I’ve never seen many of the places in our own hometown. I think my grandmother would really love a canyon drive, along with some local farmer’s markets. I’ll have to talk to her caregivers to make sure it won’t be too much for her, but I’m excited to try out the new ideas!

  2. Kairi Gainsborough March 3, 2016 Reply

    These are some great idea for giving senior citizens a fun night out. “Playing tourist” would be really fun, and I bet there are a lot of attractions around here to see. It would be a good time for everyone. I wonder if the nursing home can charter a bus to take the residents out to a museum or a park.

  3. John Perry July 27, 2017 Reply

    It is good to hear from an expert caregiver about things to do with your loved one. Thanks for sharing. Social activities are important especially when seniors retire from their jobs. Every caregiver should host family gatherings for their loved one. Gardening is one of the most common activities seniors do after retirement. Thank you for sharing some useful tips.

  4. Faye Johnson September 10, 2017 Reply

    I love your ideas. I think that you are very insightful and in touch with the needs of others. I am a volunteer at a nursing home and the residents say they are tired of being inside and long to get out. You’ve sparked my creativity I pray that the management will see things as the residents do. Thanks.

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