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Days are shorter. Nights are chillier. Fall is in full swing! With autumn’s arrival comes an opportunity for senior living community managers to enrich life for residents with these 14 wellness-focused fall activities for seniors.

The Great Indoors

When the weather isn’t cooperating, host fall activities for seniors indoors. In fact, this is where fall activities for seniors can have the greatest impact on their wellbeing.

Depression is a risk factor for any adult, but seniors are especially susceptible. Launching fall activities for seniors that help them socialize and feel connected to others can make a big difference in their quality of life. Here’s how:

  1. Digital Games Promote Wellness

    One of the best ways to boost senior wellbeing is by providing digital games. In a 2013 study by North Carolina State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, seniors who played digital games had better wellbeing and social functioning – plus lower rates of depression – than seniors who refrained from gaming.

    To maximize the wellness benefits of digital gaming, provide residents with senior-friendly handheld gaming tablets. Seniors can select from a wide range of games including trivia, word puzzles, card games, arcade-style racing games, and more.

  2. Create a Close-knit Group of Seniors

    Knitting is one of the best fall activities for seniors. Not only is knitting proven to boost happiness, knitters feel great pride in their handiwork which can increase confidence. Organize a weekly knitting club and provide monthly transportation to a nearby yard or craft store. Team up with a local homeless shelter and give residents the chance to help others by knitting winter hats.

  3. Try the Hygge Trend: Cozy Fall Activities for Seniors

    Have you heard the buzz about hygge (pronounced HOO-gah)? It’s the Danish word for “cozy” and it’s one of the biggest lifestyle trends in America.

    Hygge involves friends coming together by firelight or candlelight to enjoy the warmth of camaraderie over simple, pleasurable activities – from games to reading. Hygge pastimes are perfect fall activities for seniors!

    There are hundreds of books about hygge, so purchase a few for your library to generate interest in your hygge fall activities for seniors. Start a hygge meet up and encourage seniors to wear their coziest apparel. Offer hygge-approved refreshments like tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. To set the hygge mood without creating a fire hazard, run a fireplace simulation DVD and invest in a few realistic LED candles.

  4. Saturday Night Live…Trivia!

    Start a weekly live trivia event on Saturday evenings to spark social connections. You don’t need to hire an outside host to launch trivia-focused fall activities for seniors. With a company like Buzztime, your staff is provided with everything needed to run a live trivia event: from trivia questions to handheld tablets for answering questions and automatic scoring.

  5. Take Tai Chi Indoors

    Launch a “Fall for Safety! Fall Prevention Exercise Series” with balance-promoting fall activities for seniors like tai chi. Tai chi involves slow movements performed while standing. It’s one of the best exercises and fall activities for seniors, clinically proven to improve balance in addition to better sleep and sharper cognition.

Outdoor Fall Activities for Seniors

Give seniors the chance to enjoy the autumn air with fall activities for seniors held outdoors – weather permitting!

  1. Tailgate Saturdays

    Nothing says fall like football. Even seniors who aren’t fans of the game will enjoy the excitement and togetherness of a tailgate-themed event. All of these football-themed fall activities for seniors would work indoors, too.

    • Set up lunch outdoors with hotdogs, hamburgers, nachos, chicken wings and other tailgate favorites
    • Encourage seniors to wear apparel from their favorite sports team – provide awards for seniors with the most team spirit
    • Most high school football games are on Friday evenings, could a few members of the high school band volunteer to perform a few songs?
    • Turn on the football games in all communal areas making it easy for fans to gather together
    • Consider taking seniors to a local high school or college football game – be sure to plan ahead for seniors with mobility issues
  2. The Ultimate Leaf Peeping Experience

    Leaf peeping is one of the most beloved fall activities for seniors. Give seniors a truly eye-opening look at fall foliage with a walk or bus tour led by a horticulturist or arborist from your local extension office.

    Every state, and almost every county, has an extension office that is an “extension” of a university. These offices are tasked by the USDA with providing educational outreach related to natural resources and agriculture. To find your local extension office, just click here. In fact, your extension office may have other ideas for fall activities for seniors!

  3. Fall is For Planting…

    One of the best fall activities for seniors is gardening. Why? Fall is the best time to plant perennial flower bulbs, which bloom year after year.

    Involve seniors in the garden plan: which bulbs would they like to plant? Daffodils, tulips, allium, and hyacinth are 4 of the hardiest perennials for all planting zones. Come spring, seniors will look for their budding flowers!

    For more tips on launching a garden program – including senior-friendly gardening tools, safety ideas, and proven health benefits – view this guide.

Halloween-Themed Fall Activities for Seniors

Treat residents to a scary good time and lift their spirits with fall activities for seniors that are so easy…it’s spooky.

  1. Welcome in the Trick-or-Treaters

    There’s nothing like the presence of children to bring smiles to seniors. Team up with a local pre-school and invite children and their parents to trick-or-treat at your senior living community.

    To prepare trick-or-treating fall activities for seniors, set up a bus or van to transport them to a grocery store to stock up on candy.

    Encourage seniors to decorate their doors and even dress up in costume. Seniors can sit outside of their apartment or room so they don’t have to get up constantly to answer the door.

    You could also set up tables in the cafeteria – trick-or-treaters can go from table to table.

  2. Scary Movie Series

    Next up on our list of fall activities for seniors is a weekly scary movie series. Show not-too-scary, nostalgic classics like Hitchcock flicks and Twilight Zone re-runs. Studies even show that scary movies may provide health benefits like increased immunity and feelings of togetherness. You could also run a live trivia event featuring movie-related questions before or after the feature film.

  3. Costume Contest

    Halloween-themed fall activities for seniors should be focused on festivity and fun. So, host a costume contest on Halloween!

    Give residents ample time to prepare. Organize a bus or van trip to the local thrift shop or a store like Walmart or Target.

    Create awards to increase senior confidence, such as: most creative, funniest, scariest, and best-all-around. Let seniors vote and print up simple awards. Or, use digital signage in your residence to honor the winners.

  4. Pumpkin Painting, Inspired by Pinterest

    Pumpkin carving is one of the fall activities for seniors that should be avoided – the risk of injury is too high.

    Instead, take a cue from the latest trends on Pinterest and set up pumpkin painting stations! Painting and creating art has been shown to increase resistance to stress in adults over 65.

    Purchase small gourds and pumpkins and let seniors pick out one or two to decorate. Provide paint, glitter, stencils, and print out ideas. One of the hottest trends is painting pumpkins in wild colors like pink, teal, and white.

Thanksgiving Fall Activities for Seniors

Give residents even more to be thankful for with fall activities for seniors centered around Thanksgiving.

  1. Gratitude Wall

    Expressing gratitude is scientifically proven to reduce stress and promote better sleep in addition to 5 other health benefits. Put up a large white sheet of paper in your reception area, and invite seniors to write what they are grateful for. Or, ask them to write words of thanks which you can then display throughout your facility using TVs and digital signage.

  2. Meal Planning for Those Sticking Around

    Not every senior has family to visit with on Thanksgiving Day, so make meal planning for your on-site Thanksgiving Feast one of your fall activities for seniors. Partner seniors with kitchen staff to design a menu together. Imagine the pride a resident would feel knowing a treasured recipe was cooked by your staff on Thanksgiving Day…

    In fact, one of the best tips for planning ALL of your fall activities for seniors is to include them in the process. Together, you can create an autumn to remember at your senior living community.