Thanksgiving Travel Tips for Seniors and Their Families

Thanksgiving is only a few short weeks away, and for many families that means it is time to start planning for Thanksgiving travel. Thanksgiving is notoriously the busiest travel weekend of the year, which means no matter where you are planning on going, you can expect your travel to be even more difficult than normal. Roadways are going to be congested with traffic, airports are going to have overbooked flights and long security lines and everyone is going to feel more stressed than ever about traveling.

Traveling in these conditions can be stressful enough, but if you are enduring this type of travel situation with a senior family member, it can be even more overwhelming. Everyone traveling with a senior family member wants their loved ones to stay safe and comfortable during this type of travel experience so that they can make the most out of their upcoming holiday. Here are a few tips on how you can make this process more enjoyable for everyone involved.

  1. Give yourself an extra hour on everything. If your drive is normally two hours, plan for three. If you normally get to the airport 90 minutes in advance, plan on 2 ½ hours. This is an easy rule of thumb for Thanksgiving weekend that will have everyone feeling less stressed.
  2. Do your best to avoid those big travel days. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are the two most congested travel days on these weekends, so if your loved one’s schedule is flexible, try to avoid these days all together.
  3. Don’t assume that driving is always a better option. There are many people who attempt to avoid flying or trains on Thanksgiving weekend, and instead drive distances they would not normally drive. However, driving can be just as stressful for seniors, and you can expect roads, gas stations and travel plazas to be overrun with other travelers.
  4. Always pack snacks. Nothing can make the stress of traveling worse than feeling hungry or having low blood sugar. Snacks can be your best friend when traveling with a senior, and can help them keep their energy and their spirits high.
  5. Have a detailed plan. While some plans may never come to fruition, it is still smart to have a plan in place, if you can. This will at least give you a blueprint of how the travel day should be going.
  6. Know the perks of traveling in airports with seniors. While the airport can be a chaotic mess on Thanksgiving weekend, there are many perks that seniors can take advantage of. Call ahead to schedule wheelchair service if your loved one may have issues walking long distances. Also remember that seniors don’t have to remove their jackets or shoes when going through security! Little things like this can help you save time when going though the airport.

If you fail to prepare for the trials and tribulations that can come with Thanksgiving travel, it can seriously impact your entire Thanksgiving holiday. Keep these tips in mind to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible and everyone can enjoy their Thanksgiving vacation together.

Immune-Boosting Tips for Seniors During Cold and Flu Season

Fall is here! Unfortunately, so is cold and flu season. For seniors, this time of year can be particularly dangerous as seniors are more vulnerable to catching illnesses like the flu. This is why it is so important for seniors to do what they can in order to boost their immune system during this time of year. A strong immune system is your best line of defense against all of the nasty bugs that tend to get passed around during this time of year.

While there is no magic pill that will 100% guarantee your immune system will be able to fight off a cold or flu-like symptoms, these easy and natural tips can help your immune system run better than ever.

  • Sleep, sleep, sleep. Nothing is better for the immune system than sleep. You need to be getting at least eight hours of sleep per night, no exceptions. It can do wonders for your entire body and for your immune system.
  • De-stress. Did you know that when you release too much of the stress hormone, it is the responsibility of your immune system to get in and fight off this hormone? This means your immune system will be focused on helping de-stress you instead of fighting off colds and flus. The less stressed you are, the better equipped your immune system will be.
  • Eat healthy, natural foods. The more healthy foods you eat and the less processed foods you eat, the better it is for your body. You need to make sure that you are only putting real foods, filled with vitamins and nutrients into your body. These vitamins and nutrients will help keep your immune system up and running and ready to take on any cold that comes your way.
  • Drink lots of water. Your body needs water to survive, but the average person only drinks a small percentage of the water that they need. Plus, seniors need even more water than younger adults. Every senior should be drinking between 8-10 glasses of water every day. Water makes the body, and the immune system, run like it is supposed to.
  • Take vitamin C. There is nothing better for the immune system than vitamin C. This vitamin can completely boost and transform the immune system. You should be taking it all of the time during this time of year, but even more when you are feeling sick. Remember, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so you need to take it throughout the day, every day.

These immune system-boosting tips are great for anyone, no matter what their age may be, but are particularly important for seniors. Try implementing these tips into your routine during this time of year, or help your senior loved one make these healthier immune-system boosting changes to their routine. Either way, these tips can make all of the difference during cold and flu season and help anyone stay healthier during this time of year.

10 Fun Fall Outings for Seniors and Their Grandchildren

Fall is such a fun time of year and it is filled with so many different opportunities for activities. Many families have fun fall traditions that they like to do every year. If you are looking for great fall activities that seniors and their grandchildren can do together, you may be surprised to find how many different activities there are out there.

Finding activities for seniors and their grandchildren to do together is a great way to help foster this very special relationship and to make sure that seniors and their grandchildren are forming lasting memories and special relationships that they will cherish for years to come. If you need a little inspiration to help you find the right fall outings for the seniors and grandchildren in your life, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Go to an apple orchard. Pick apples, stroll the orchards or try delicious apple cider.
  2. Visit a cornfield maze, they are fun for all ages and fun to explore.
  3. Go to a pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins.
  4. Take family photos in the foliage. It can be such a beautiful time of the year when the leaves change. You can take photos of everyone in the family, including special photos of grandparents and their grandchildren.
  5. Go on an easy hike along a local walking trail. You can pick up pretty leaves and press them, or make your own scavenger hunt looking for leaves, sticks or rocks.
  6. Visit the Zoo. This is a fun time of year to see the animals out and about when the weather is a little cooler.
  7. Take a fall foliage drive to see the leaves once they have changed.
  8. Go on a scenic train ride out in the country.
  9. Tour a local farm. Many of them give tours during this time of year and even have petting zoos for kids to enjoy.
  10. Start looking for your Christmas tree. As soon as Thanksgiving hits, it is tie to start shopping. Plus, cutting down your own tree can be lots of fun!

The best thing you can do when finding new fall outings and activities for seniors is to simply go into the outing with a great activity. Perhaps this is an outing that seniors used to enjoy when they were younger, or something they have never done before. Either way, this is a great time of year for the whole family to get together and make some lasting fall memories they will cherish for years.

Tips on How to Help Seniors Feel More Included at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is only a few short weeks away, and while many people are understandably excited about this holiday, this family gathering can also bring a lot of stress to seniors. Thanksgiving can be loud, crowded, and feature some events that not all seniors can participate in. This is even more evident in seniors who may be physically incapacitated or those who may have different stages of dementia.

Therefore, it is important for families to be prepared to help their senior loved ones during this holiday and make a little extra effort to ensure that they feel included. Here are a few tips for you and your family to consider.

Plan the Meal According to Your Loved One’s Schedule

Start at a time that works for your senior family member. Thanksgiving meals can typically be quite flexible, with many people eating in the middle of the afternoon. Make sure that the meal time works with your senior loved one, so they can enjoy their normal bed time or nap time and still get to enjoy all of the festivities.

Do Multiple Activities

Plan multiple activities. If you are a family that likes to do a Turkey Trot run in the morning or play football, this can be a great tradition, but it isn’t always one that seniors can participate in. While being active on a day that is all about eating is a great tradition, if your loved one can’t participate, add some other activities that they can be part of as well. A leisurely family walk, Cornhole, yard games or cards are all great activities that seniors can enjoy too.

Let Seniors Help With Meal Prep

There are many seniors who used to host Thanksgiving and ultimately gave up the responsibility when they got older. However, it doesn’t mean that they can’t help at all. It can be difficult for seniors to feel completely shut out from the meal prep. Give your senior loved one tasks to help with and let them make decisions, even if it is what type of flowers are on the centerpiece, what flavor pie is being made, or whether there are onions in the stuffing. Some seniors may still want to make some dishes, others may want to set the table, while some are just content with sitting and chatting while the meal is being made. Either way, they should always feel involved.

Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday for everyone in the family, and a great opportunity for families to get together and spend quality time together, especially when they live far apart. However, not all seniors always feel included in this holiday. Keep these tips in mind to make sure your Thanksgiving is one that everyone enjoys and everyone can make the most of this year.

Finding the Perfect Hobby For Post-Retirement Life

Millions of Americans dream of the day when they can finally step back from their job and enjoy all that retirement has to offer. In addition to taking time off of work, retirement should be about enjoying the time you have away from your desk. This is why so many seniors spend their time enjoying old hobbies and picking up new hobbies that they can focus on during this time in their lives.

However, as a senior, it can be difficult to learn something new, and to develop a new interest. The key is to remember the sky is the limit. You should never limit yourself when it comes to finding a hobby. And it doesn’t need to be something that you have done before either. Nor does it need to be a standard “senior hobby.” If you aren’t into playing cards, collecting novelties or knitting, these don’t have to be the hobbies you choose. Instead, choose something you consider to be fun! Or, channel your inner child and pick up a hobby you have wanted to try for years.

Take 91-year-old Chuck Hocking for example. At the age of 91, Chuck spends a majority of his time building and flying radio-controlled model airplanes. Chuck has been interested in model planes since he was a child. And while a majority of his adult life was spent as an AV coordinator and industrial arts teacher, he still continued to have a real interest and passion for collecting these model airplanes. After he retired, his interest in mechanics and these compact planes led him to a new-found interest in sitting in the park near his home and watching people fly these small radio-controlled planes overhead.

After spending many leisurely afternoons watching, his passion for flying was reignited and he eventually joined the Lakeland RC Club. That was nearly 25 years ago. Chuck not only became an active member of this club, but even served as president for two years. Now, as Chuck enjoys this new phase in his life, enjoying the perks of assisted living, he still goes out and flies his radio-controlled planes.

Chuck is just one of many seniors who has taken an interest and turned it into a real, lasting hobby that has brought him a great deal of joy over the years. In addition to having something to peak his interest each and every day, Chuck’s passion also led him to find a great group of friends in his RC Club that shared similar interests. When hobbies can turn into social opportunities, it can make spending your retirement doing what you love, even more enjoyable.

So, whether your hobbies are puzzles, golf, working with animals, or flying remote control airplanes, don’t be afraid to get out there and give something new a try. It can be a great way to enrich your life during retirement and help make your golden years feel happier and more fulfilled than you ever may have thought was possible.

7 Ways Seniors Can Improve Their Mental Health

When people reach a certain age, they start thinking about the quality of their life more than ever before. Being retired comes with its benefits, but there are also many downfalls that can be a challenge to overcome. For example, if you become lonely, isolated, or simply anxious, for one reason or another, your mental health could deteriorate, which could lead to other health issues as well. Luckily, there are ways in which seniors can improve their mental health, and here are some of them.

Write a diary

A good way for you to stay mentally active is to write a diary. It can help you remember all the fun and loving moments, and it can help you plan for the future as well. You can write about your thoughts, feelings, and wishes. Even if you choose not to share your diary with anybody, it would still help you express yourself.

Play games

There are many fun games that serve to improve one’s brain power. For example, you can play cards, puzzles, crosswords, riddles, etc. If you live in a retirement center, you can organize a game night and play such games with your friends. It would also be a good idea for your family to get involved and play some mentally stimulating games with you. The amount of social interaction and fun is bound to benefit everybody.

Create a sense of purpose

Just like you need to feel needed, you also need to have a sense of purpose. Once you stop going to work every day, you might become overwhelmed by the sudden amount of free time you have. So, put that free time to good use and find a hobby or a part-time job. For example, if you have skills that you can teach, you can become a tutor. Or, if you have a green thumb, you can take care of your garden and perhaps start a landscaping business. There are always things you can do, you just need to think about your passions and abilities.

Stay physically active

Staying physically active can help you reduce the amount of stress and anxiety, improve your blood flow and heart function, sleep better, and relieve depression. Plus, walking through the park can be a very calming experience that can help you clear your mind, enjoy the moment and embrace some healthy habits, after all.

Get professional care

If you feel like your mental health is deteriorating beyond what you can control, there are still ways for you to maintain the quality of your life. For example, some aged care homes offers you a chance to continue living a fulfilling lifestyle beyond your medical diagnosis. You’d still be able to socialize and be an active member of the community – you’d simply have a few professionals who’d help you along the way as well.

Find a way to be useful

We all want to feel needed, and it’s not uncommon for people who reach the age of retirement to start thinking that they are a burden to their family. Even though that is rarely actually true, you can still find ways to be useful to your loved ones. You can take care of your grandchildren, do some simple chores around the home, go grocery shopping, etc. This way, you would still feel like you are an important part of your family.

Nurture your relationships

In this day and age, no matter how busy people might be, it’s not that hard to stay connected. Sure, you might need to learn how to use Skype, Facebook, and similar social networks, but it would definitely be worth it. You could chat with your friends and family members, share photos and videos, and organize family events much more easily. So, even when you can’t see each other in person, you wouldn’t feel lonely, and you’d still be able to share any important news and details with each other.

No matter how old you are, taking care of both your mental and your physical health is extremely important. Therefore, consider some of the listed suggestions, and you will have a much easier time dealing with potential mental problems.

Chloe is a graduated journalist from Adelaide and a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator. She loves everything related to decor, aesthetic and lifestyle topics. She is also passionate about photography. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world and take some stunning photographs of beautiful places. Beside all this, she enjoys drinking coffee and reading a beautiful book from time to time.

Fun Volunteer Jobs Any Senior Should Try

There is nothing quite like the feeling of giving back to those in need, which is why every year millions of people decide to volunteer their time. This is especially true for seniors. In fact, it is estimated that senior adults age 55 and up give more than 3 billion hours of volunteer service per year. That is a lot of manpower!

If you have been thinking about doing your part and volunteering your time, then consider volunteering! Not sure what to do? Here are a few fun volunteer jobs that any senior can try.

  1. Work at the National Parks Service– If you like going in the great outdoors, then you can work for one of the area national parks. There are more than 100,000 seniors who work for the NPS every year, and they can do everything from leading wildflower walks to working at the information desk and even taking visitors on bird-watching tours.
  2. Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter– Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers, and seniors can be a great asset to these organizations when they need help the most. Even if you aren’t physically able to go out and walk large dogs, there is always a need for seniors to sit and keep cats company!
  3. Tutor Children– There are many organizations, such as Experience Corps that pair seniors with young children to act as one-on-one mentors to these little ones. These are great programs that benefit both seniors and young people at the same time!
  4. Volunteer at a Local Museum– If you are a history buff, there are plenty of local museums who always need volunteers. You can work in the gift shop, take tickets or even take visitors on tours.
  5. Sit as a Board Member– If you are a senior who misses the thrill of working life, you can always sit on the board for an organization that you love. This will allow you to stay behind the scenes in the business side of the volunteer organization while still giving back to something you love.
  6. Work at the Local Library– There are many libraries that are looking for volunteers to stock shelves, decorate and even read to kids. It is the perfect volunteer opportunity for any bookworm.

Feeling inspired? If you are then, give these volunteer opportunities a try. There are so many local organizations that are looking for help and just waiting for adults of all types to come and volunteer their resources. You can also log on to AARP to learn more about different volunteer opportunities that are available for seniors in your home town.

Great Halloween Activities for Seniors

Fall is here, which means it is almost time for Halloween and all of the trick and treat that come with this holiday. While most people know that for kids Halloween is all about scary costumes and lots of candy, it can also be a fun holiday for the entire family—especially for seniors. In fact, if you have a senior in your life, there are lots of fun activities that you can do with this individual to help them get in the Halloween spirit and make sure that their holiday is full of plenty of spooky fun.

To help you get inspired, we have created a list of just a few of our favorite Halloween activities for seniors.

  1. Decorate pumpkins. It’s a classic Halloween activity, but one that is worth mentioning. If you are worried about your loved one using a sharp knife, opt for painting pumpkins or use safer pumpkin stickers for this activity.
  2. Watch scary movies. Instead of watching newer Halloween movies, go with some scary classics. It can be both a fun activity and a fun trip down memory lane.
  3. Look at old Halloween photos. Get out the photo albums and look back at old family Halloween costumes. Seniors will love seeing all of the different outfits that their kids and grandkids wore throughout the year.
  4. Decorate your loved one’s home or assisted living room. Decorate spiderwebs, scary accessories, ghosts and Halloween garlands are all fun ways to have any living space feeling more fun and festive.
  5. Make healthy Halloween treats. Sure Halloween is a time for candy, but it is always smart to help seniors stay healthy, even during Halloween. Make some fun and festive treats like homemade apple cider, veggies shaped like ghosts and ghouls or “devilish” deviled eggs.
  6. Hand out candy to little ones. If your senior loved one is not able to hand out candy on their own or if they live in an assisted living community where they can’t hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, invite them over to help. It can be a fun activity for seniors and they will love getting to see all of the kids in their costumes.
  7. Read scary stories. There are so many great short scary stories out there, and this time of year is the perfect time to read or re-read them! You can give your loved one the books to read on their own in their free time, or you can read them out loud together!

This Halloween, try something new with your senior loved one and give these activities a try. They may be just what you need to get the whole family ready for a Spooktacular All Hallows Eve!

The Senior Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Did you know that research has shown that older adults who have pets tend to have better health? Yes, it is true. Pets can help seniors live happier, healthier lives and can make life a lot more fun in the process. If you have been considering a pet, then take a look at some of the great benefits of pet ownership that can help any senior enjoy a better quality of life well into their golden years.

  • Dogs can help you stay healthy. Studies show that regularly walking your dog can lead to a lower overall body mass index and help you enjoy better cardiovascular health. If you want to stay healthier, consider adding a canine companion to your home.
  • Pets can reduce stress and lower the risk of depression. Simply having a pet in the home can help offer these great health benefits, whether it is a cat, dog or any other type of animal.
  • Seniors who own pets, this can mean cats and dogs or even bunnies and hamsters have shows to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol, less risk of loneliness or depression and a better chance of long-term survival following a heart attack. There have been studies on all of these benefits and it is clear that animals can help seniors with their health in so many ways.
  • Cats provide great companionship for seniors who can’t keep up with more active dogs. Cats can help lower the chances of depression or loneliness and are great companions and love to be cared for.
  • Dogs and cats can help seniors maintain a routine. A set routine is very important for seniors, especially those who have trouble sleeping or who are struggling with early dementia. Having to feed, clean up after and play with animals can help seniors get on a routine and stay on a routine.
  • Birds are great pets for seniors and come with a number of therapeutic benefits. They can help with stress, they can give seniors a daily routine and they provide companionship. Plus, they offer all of this with less care than a dog or cat.

If you are considering a pet and are looking for an animal in need, consider going to your local shelter. There are many senior pets out there who would love a senior human to spend the rest of their lives with!

How Seniors Can Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Fall is here and while many people are understandably excited about the milder weather and all of the fun fall activities that come with this time of year, fall unfortunately also means the beginning of flu season. What many people don’t realize is that flu season starts in October and lasts all the way through March. This is why it is important that everyone starts preparing for flu season now and taking some extra steps in order to get ahead of the flu before flu season reaches its peak.

Everyone is susceptible to getting the flu, but seniors are even more prone to getting sick and even ending up in the hospital because of the flu. This is why it is so important for all seniors to take a few steps now in order to stay healthy during flu season. Here are a few easy tips to start implementing into your routine right away.

  1. Get the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is one of the best ways for the body to develop full immunity to the flu. The CDC recommends that everyone gets their flu shots early in the season as it can take up to two weeks for the body to become fully immune. It is important to remember that while the flu vaccine may not be a perfect match against the flu every year, it can still help protect against the virus.
  2. Start taking care of your body. If you eat right, get at least eight hours of sleep and drink plenty of water, your system will be able to run at its absolute best, so start doing these things now. It will help keep your immune system in top working order and stop you from being more susceptible to the flu.
  3. Wash your hands frequently throughout the day. Good hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent the flu. Make sure that you are washing your hands several times throughout the day. Wash with soap and water and make sure to really scrub your hands on both sides. You can also carry hand sanitizer with you. Make sure that you are also cleaning inside the home and disinfecting surfaces like countertops and doorknobs that get touched often.
  4. Take Vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the best things that you can take during flu season. It can boost your immune system and help reduce cold and flu symptoms.
  5. Avoid public places when possible. Crowded, public places are unfortunately some of the most common places to get the flu virus. Do your best to avoid really crowded places when it isn’t necessary. Subways, airplanes and crowded restaurants can all be culprits.
  6. Try to not touch your face. This is actually harder to do than it seems when you really think about it, but trying not to touch your face is a great step in preventing the flu. If you touch your nose, eyes or mouth with a hand that has been infected with germs, it can easily get into your respiratory system where they are more likely to cause illnesses.

If you keep these tips in mind this fall, you can keep yourself safe during flu season—and all year long!