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12 Fun Fall Activities for Caregivers and their Loved Ones

Written by Chad Birt on Wed Oct 13 2021.

Fall is finally here and with it, cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, and pumpkin spice everything. As a caregiver, your to-do list is long, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

Taking a break from your usual routine is an easy way to mix things up and make memories.

Whether you provide care for a senior citizen or a child with special needs, there are various fall activities that are safe for people of all ages and abilities. To help make planning and research a little easier, we've created a list of our favorite ways to have a fun fall.

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1. Decorate

There's a lot to celebrate during the autumn, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the harvest season. You can mark the arrival of these and other events by buying or making fall decorations.

No matter your personal aesthetic, there are plenty of options to choose from, including fake spiders and giant cobwebs, tombstones with funny epitaphs, and even trash bags that look like jack-o-lanterns.

If you want to get creative (and your care recipient is physically and cognitively able) consider making decorations at home. You could:

  • Make a scarecrow

  • Paint pumpkins

  • Create a fall-themed centerpiece

  • Draw and color hand turkeys

  • Craft a homemade wreath using leaves, pinecones, or other items from outside

For some other crafty ideas, check out this guide from Country Living.

2. Attend a local fall festival

Many communities—large and small—host autumn festivals. Often, these events feature delicious food, carnival rides, and events unique to the season, like corn mazes, apple pie baking contests, or a hayride. Festivals offer a little something for everyone. What's more, they're easy to navigate, even if your loved one is a wheelchair user.

3. Prepare for Trick-or-Treaters

Are there lots of kids in your neighborhood? If so, you can expect a busy Halloween. Instead of doing all the preparation yourself, get your care recipient involved.

For example, you could have your loved one sort candy, hang up decorations, or answer the door on Halloween night. If your loved one is able and enjoys dressing up, help them find or make a costume. Make sure the garment is easy to get on and take off, and that it doesn't affect their ability to move around freely.

4. Go apple picking or visit a pumpkin patch

No matter where you live, there's probably an orchard or farm within a 30-minute drive. These destinations present an opportunity to get outside, enjoy some fresh air, and celebrate the bounty of the harvest.

Fall activities like apple picking and pumpkin picking encourage movement, but they aren't overly strenuous. Even if your care recipient uses a wheelchair or another type of mobility device, most farms, and orchards offer access to those with disabilities.

5. Get outside and enjoy the fall foliage

If you live in a part of the country with changing leaves, now is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fall foliage. Care recipients who are active and in good health might enjoy taking a walk or hike. Wheelchair users and people with mobility issues might enjoy a visit to the local park or a weekend drive through the countryside. Don't forget to bring a camera, so you can capture memories and reminisce later on.

6. Host a family movie night

If you care for someone who's immunocompromised or incontinent, going to see a movie at the theater probably isn't an option. Why not bring the experience home? There are plenty of family-friendly seasonal films to choose from, including:

  • Hocus Pocus

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

  • October Sky

  • The Addams Family

  • Halloweentown

  • Casper

  • It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

7. Cheer on your favorite football team

Is your care recipient an NFL or college football fan? No matter the team they root for, be it the New York Giants or the Ohio State Buckeyes, kicking back on a weekend afternoon is a fun way to unwind and enjoy some time together. Pick up some healthy snacks and drinks beforehand and let the fun begin.

8. Start drafting those holiday greeting cards

Christmas and New Year's will be here before you know it. If you want to get ahead of the curve, start drafting your holiday greeting cards now. Collaborate with your loved one on the project. If they're able, you can have them write the message or add a drawing. If that's not possible, get them involved in another way, like licking and placing the stamps or closing and addressing the envelopes.

9. Enjoy a cozy beverage

Autumn mornings and evenings are often chilly. Warm up with a delicious beverage like decaf coffee, herbal tea, or apple cider. These drinks are non-caffeinated and safe for most people, including those with food allergies and sensitivities. If you have any questions about what your loved one can or can't drink, speak with their primary care provider first.

10. Make a new recipe

Cooking is a fun way to make memories, and you have something yummy to eat once you're done. Some of our favorite fall treats include:

  • Apple pie

  • Apple cider

  • Caramel apples

  • Soups and stews

  • Stuffing

  • Harvest-themed skillets

  • Stuffed squash

11. Create a fall bucket list

As a caregiver, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of your daily responsibilities. If your loved one is cognitively able, encourage them to help you come up with ideas by making a fall bucket list. This promotes independence and may even motivate your loved one to play a more active role in their care.

12. Work a puzzle or play a game

If you live in a rural area, or your loved one has limited mobility, your options in terms of fall activities may be limited. Don't let that get you down. Working a jigsaw puzzle or playing a board game can keep your care recipient engaged and entertained.

We hope you find these suggestions helpful. Enjoy the season and make lasting memories with those in your care. Good luck and have fun!

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Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.