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Helping Older Adults Manage the Outside World

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If Mom needs a walker but is too modest to make the change, she might just take a nice sturdy shopping cart with her when she goes out. It won't take the place of a walker, but she may come to realize she does need the extra support that a walker can provide.

Twenty Outing Suggestions

1.Visit the library.
2.Wander through a museum (one that has rooms with places to sit).
3.Take in a movie.
4.Go to the theater.
5.Visit an aquarium.
6.Volunteer together at a library or anywhere in the community.
7.Get a manicure together.
8.Visit a florist or nursery just to smell the roses.
9.Take a walk in the park.
10.Attend a lecture.
11.Visit a friend at a nursing home.
12.Go to the opera.
13.Attend religious services.
14.Walk a dog from the local humane society.
15.Visit a cemetery.
16.Go to a child's recital, even if you don't know the child all that well.
17.Browse through a flea market.
18.Go to an animal shelter to watch the puppies and kittens.
19.Shop at the mall (one that offers free wheelchairs).
20.Hang out at a neighborhood coffee shop where you're likely to meet up with other older adults.

Try to take excursions during slow or off-peak hours if your loved one tends to get overwhelmed.

Many theater, opera, music, and other arts organizations have special senior discount programs. 

Most malls, museums, and large parks make wheelchairs available to those who need them.

A doorway must be at least 32 inches wide in order for a wheelchair to fit through; check before you travel or visit if you suspect there might be a problem.

Get a portable folding seat to take on outings.

Search out movie theaters with easy access. Report those that are not disability- or senior-friendly to the local Area Agency on Aging.

Everybody has his or her typical high and low periods during the day. Schedule outings for the time of day when your loved one tends to have the most energy.

"It takes a while for Dad to get going in the morning, and he sometimes gets nervous and agitated later in the day, but he's most like himself in the late morning and midday. So once a week we go out for a little shopping and a nice lunch."
-Doug Benard

Seek out accommodating restaurants that offer senior discounts. 

Bring snacks on outings. One with a good mix of carbohydrates and protein will keep everyone's energy and spirits up. Some suggestions:

  • Crackers and peanut butter
  • String cheese and an apple or orange
  • Energy bars
  • Trail mix

If your mother has a dog that she takes on walks, make sure the pet has your contact information on his tags, just to be extra safe. Attach the tags to a reflective collar and leash to make the perfect "gift set" for Fido.

Waiters and waitresses can better help your party if they know what your special needs might be. Call ahead.

"We love taking Dad out to eat -- he's a gourmet from way back and thankfully has no dietary restrictions -- but it requires patience. And since I hate to embarrass him by explaining his situation out loud, I have printed up little cards that I hand to the person who seats us. It says, 'Please be patient with our party. My dad has memory problems and will need extra help with his order. Also, please remove the knife from his place setting and have his food cut up in the kitchen. We're grateful to you for your help.' This makes life easier for everyone, Dad maintains his dignity in public, and of course, we tip appropriately."
-Lorraine Ferber

WebMD Medical Reference

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