Fall-Themed Activity Ideas for the Elderly or Disabled
We've put together a stellar list of autumn activity inspiration. Activity Coordinators for Adult Day Care Centers, Assisted Living Facilities & Nursing Homes are in for a treat! In this list you will find activities that can be easily adapted as needed and accommodate for a variety of abilities. Comment below and let us know if you end up trying any of these.
Go for a Nature Walk
Autumn is a gorgeous season and a favorite for many! Make sure your service users get to see the trees changing color and feel the fresh, crisp air in their lungs. Go for an outing to a local pond, garden, or park. Point out the nature and wildlife you see. Consider coming up with a nature scavenger hunt and having participants mark things off as they go. For an especially lovely outing, bring along some bread to feed birds or ducks and a thermos of tea or cider.
Pumpkin Decorating Contest
Forget the knives and carving tools! Pumpkins can be decorated with paint, glitter, ribbons, feathers, artificial flowers, beads, etc. Start a little friendly competition and have prizes. You could have standard 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners or come up with prizes for 'Scariest', 'Prettiest', 'Most Creative', etc. Once all the pumpkins are decorated, display them as table centrepieces or a create mock pumpkin patch in the reception area.
Between Google Earth and YouTube, you can virtually transport service usersto just about anywhere in the world. There are many places with histories perfect for visiting if you’re in search of entertainment related to Halloween. Some of the destinations on your itinerary could include:
Loch Ness, Scotland - Where the story of the Lochness Monster originated.
Bran Castle, Romania and New Slain’s Castle, Scotland - These two stunningly eerie castles are both believed to have inspired Bram Stoker’s terrifying fictional character, Dracula.
Dragsholm Slot, Denmark - Originally built in 1215, it is one of the oldest castles in Denmark and supposedly the most haunted in all of Europe. From the 16th-17th century it was used to house prisoners of nobility. Today it is an upscale hotel that hosts a Michelin star restaurant, while reportedly being home to over 100 ghosts including the husband of Mary Queen of Scotts who died as a prisoner there.
New Orleans, Louisiana - This city has deep historical ties to voodoo and several sites associated with it like the Historic Voodoo Museum, the cemetery where Marie Laveau is buried, and the Pharmacy Museum, with interesting apothecary bottles, potions and herbs.
Salem, Massachusetts - The town where the Salem Witch Trials took place and home to the Witch History Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum, The Witch House of Salem.
Make A Mask
We've all been doing a lot of mask wearing these past 18 months, so why not make it a bit of fun? For this activity, any plain surgical-style mask will do. Gather together some fabric paint and markers and any other desired embellishments. Consider drawing the following onto face masks and turning them into part of a Halloween costume:
- Jack o’lantern mouth and nose
- Vampire teeth
- Cat mouth and whiskers
- Silly face
- Sugar skull
Create a ‘Gratitude Tree’
Help service users reflect on who or what they are thankful for. To do this, start creating a ‘Gratitude Tree’ using an indoor tree/plant. Everyone can write notes detailing the things they are thankful for and hang them on the tree. Alternatively, you could create a tree out of construction paper to hang on a wall in your community. The, service users could write on paper leaves that decorate the 'branches'. This activity can be great conversation starter when it comes to memories. Be sure to reminisce about past Thanksgiving experiences and traditions.
Play Dough Leaves
Start with making four batches of this easy no-cook play dough. Add one tablespoon of food coloring to each batch (we suggest red, yellow, orange and green). For an extra sensory element, add one teaspoon of ground cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or chai powder to each batch. Once the play dough is made, have service users roll it out and press leaves into it. Investigate patterns and shapes. Store play dough in a Ziploc bag or with clingfilm.
Feed the Birds
You can make simple bird feeders with:
- Toilet rolls
- Peanut Butter
- Bird Seed
Hang them outside where service users would be able to watch the bird feeders in action.
Autumn Sensory Bin
Sensory bins are fun to put together and they're fantastic for people with dementia or those with sensory processing disorder, autism spectrum disorder, etc. There's no wrong way to make a sensory bin and you can use whatever you have on hand. First, collect a container (plastic tub, baking dish, cardboard box with dividers). Then, fill the container with a main substance like dried pasta noodles, rice (try dyeing it orange!), pumpkin seeds, popping corn, oats, water, etc. Next, toss in sensory items associated with fall. Try to engage all the senses! Consider adding: cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, pinecones, acorns, leaves, magnet letters that spell out a fall-themed word, pine needles, mini pumpkins or gourds, plastic spider rings, autumnal-colored buttons, etc. Set aside spoons or cups so that participants can dig through and find items to play with.
Honor Native Americans at Thanksgiving
Pay respects to the Native American community by finding out whose land you are on. Every tribe has its own traditions, experiences, and practices, so doing your research is vital to honoring the history of the land you inhabit and the traditions and languages present there. You can use the Native Lands App to learn more. You can also check out this article and this article for more ideas on how to stop perpetuating harmful stereotypes and learn the true history of the early encounters between Native communities and colonizers. November is Native American National Heritage Month, so it is a great time to celebrate indigenous music, art, literature, film, and foods.
Visit an Apple Orchard
If possible, take residents or service users on an outing to a local Apple Orchard. During the autumn months many orchards have pumpkin patches and corn mazes as well, which adds to the fun! Some orchards might offer tours and give participants a shot at pressing their own apple juice or trying a hot cup of cider.
Fall-Themed Jigsaw Puzzles
See if you can find jigsaw puzzles with beautiful autumn scenes and landscapes. Sitting at the table with a hot beverage and a festive puzzle is a fun way to celebrate the season and great for participants who don't enjoy group activities.
Build Your Own Bowl
Oatmeal/porridge is incredibly easy and affordable to make in big batches for groups. During the crisp, cool autumn months a warm bowl of porridge is the perfect treat. Set up a build-your-own station in your dining area. Have lots of toppings out (stewed apples, cinnamon, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, honey, jam, chocolate chips, peanut butter, maple syrup, etc.) and support participants to make their own bowl.
Take Activity Attendance & Track Service User Engagement Digitally
With StoriiCare, you can quickly take activity attendance on a phone, tablet or desktop device. Record individual notes, assign mood and engagement ratings, and automatically share participation details with your service users' loved ones. On average, StoriiCare saves an Activity Coordinator 6 hours of paperwork per week, freeing them up to spend more time with their service users. Find out more about StoriiCare's Activity Pro package and care management system.