Whether your elderly loved one is living independently or in aged care, there is a range of fun, engaging activities for seniors, including senior day trip ideas, that can lead to improvements in their emotional, physical and mental health regardless of their age.

If your loved one is in aged care, they no doubt enjoy a range of exciting activities and outings they do as a community in order to live a fun, safe and engaging life among their peers. These can include movie nights, arts and craft activities, exercise classes, sing-a-longs, card and board games and gardening … just to name a few! But this doesn’t mean they are bound by visits on the premises — they are still able to enjoy planned outings with friends and family.

Benefits of senior day trips

Senior Day Trip

Day trips are a fantastic way to improve the health of your loved one

Studies have shown that outings outside the home or an aged care facility can have a range of benefits, including:

  • Improved cognitive function
  • Better emotional health
  • Better physical health
  • Improved mood
  • Increased life span
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved immune system
  • Increased independence
  • Better Vitamin D levels, which can prevent osteoporosis, heart disease and some types of cancer
  • Lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Living a full and more enriched life

Senior day trip ideas

If you realise the benefit of day trips for your loved one and are keen to enhance their quality of life, here are some senior day trip ideas that may provide some inspiration.

Restaurants

A lovely lunch at a local restaurant is a wonderful way for your elderly loved one to spend time with family. However, you should be cognisant of their dietary needs and consider their dietary restrictions, including whether meals should be sugar-regulated, low fat or low sodium and whether the restaurant offers them. If your loved one uses a walker or wheelchair, confirm the restaurant can deal with mobility issues (including in bathrooms) and has comfortable seating in the event that your quick catch up turns into a long lunch!

Museums

Local art galleries, history museums, science museums and aquariums are all great places to bring the family together. Again, ensure the venues can deal with mobility issues, and if your loved one is overwhelmed by loud noises or crowds, try visiting cultural spots on weekdays or early in the morning.

Libraries

Going to the library is a great way to explore the local area, and it’s also a reasonably quiet venue ideal for relaxation. Libraries also often have events that may be of interest, or your loved one can just spend time quietly reading in a comfy chair.

Cultural activities

The theatre, the ballet, the movies, concerts, sporting events, historical sites, art shows, craft fairs, farmers’ markets, wineries … in terms of cultural activities suited to seniors, the list is endless! Plus, many of these activities are offered as part of commercial bus tours where everything is organised for you, and your loved one can enjoy socialising with other seniors as well. One of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your local area is by visiting activity-based websites. In the major cities, they include:

Brisbane

Sydney

Melbourne

Perth

Adelaide

The outdoors

A picnic in the park, a day at the beach, a visit to the local botanical garden, a rejuvenating nature walk. Again, the options are endless here. One thing is certain though, there is nothing better for your loved one’s mental health than fresh air and some Vitamin D.

Day trips for disabled seniors

In terms of day trips for disabled seniors, Australia offers a wide variety of wheelchair and walker-friendly tours. There are also organisations that design special tours for people with disabilities. They include Special Care Travel, Pipeline Holidays and CareAway Tours Australia.

There are also sites like Tripable that can help you plan trips — including transportation and activities — for those with disabilities.

Many travel agents also offer specialised services for those with disabilities, including companies like Special Care Travel. The Australian Government’s website, Disability Gateway, is also a useful site for sourcing information about social activities and community programs for those with a disability.

Day trips for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s

If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer’s, preparation is particularly important because people with dementia have specific mental and physical challenges. Things to consider include:

Peace and quiet

Some people living with dementia may find it difficult to process information, so quiet and simple places are good destinations for outings. Learning venues, like local museums, are often ideal as your loved one can approach them at their own pace. The key is to find stimulating places and activities that don’t involve too many choices or challenges. Avoiding crowds and noise is important too. Dementia can also affect concentration, so it’s worth doing activities in short bursts.

The great outdoors

Seniors Outdoors

Parks are a great outdoor activity for people with dementia

Outdoor and nature-based activities appeal to many people and help those living with dementia physically and emotionally. Activities can range from being guided around a park to a gentle bushwalk.

Plan the journey

If you are travelling to your destination by car, it’s worth remembering that some people with dementia can become bored or uncomfortable on longer car rides. Know what your loved one can manage and ensure you frequently stop for breaks.

How to plan for a senior’s day trip

Day trips are relatively easy to plan, but when it comes to seniors, there are a few things to consider that will ensure your next adventure goes off without a hitch.

Research your destination

Before you depart on a day trip, take some time to learn as much as you can about your destination. Check websites, or you may be able to call the location directly. Things to think about include the types of terrain you’ll encounter, whether there are spots to take a break, and if your loved one has trouble with noise or crowds, whether there is an alternative time you can visit that will make the activity more comfortable for them.

Pack a day bag

Take a bag or backpack with you on the day that has all the essentials you’ll need for a successful day out. These will depend on where you’re going, the time of year and your loved one’s needs, but can include:

  • Their medications
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Suncream and a hat
  • First aid supplies like bandaids
  • Medical cards and information
  • A card with basic contact information in case you get separated

Dress for the weather

As we get older, our bodies have a harder time adjusting to changing weather conditions. It’s worth helping your senior loved one dress for the weather if you can, while also thinking about how they can stay comfortable all day. For instance, on hot summer days, this includes wearing a hat and suncream, wearing sunglasses and dressing in loose, light clothing.

On colder days, it includes wearing insulating, waterproof layers. If you’re going to be moving between indoor and outdoor locations, plan for adapting to heating and air conditioning. Make sure your senior loved one is wearing supportive and comfortable shoes. Check the weather before leaving, and pack a raincoat and umbrella if needed. And make sure your loved one always has access to their assistive devices such as a cane or walker.

Offer support

Senior Cultural Activity

Art galleries and other cultural activities can be a great way to spend the day

Mobility challenges are extremely common among the elderly. Even those who can walk comfortably unassisted may need an extra hand during a day trip. Be ready to offer your loved one assistance getting in and out of the car, a supportive arm during walks and carry any bulky supplies, so they don’t have to.

Take a break

Make sure there is more than enough time scheduled for the event. When seniors feel rushed or are being hurried during their outing, they may feel like they are being a burden.
Overexertion can also turn a pleasant trip into an uncomfortable experience quite quickly with the elderly. Be accommodating of your loved one’s limits and respect their wishes. On hot days, be on the lookout for the warning signs of dehydration and overexertion, particularly if you suspect they would be reluctant to tell you when they need to stop.

Signs include:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy or sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle cramps
  • Inability to produce sweat or tears
  • Dark, amber-coloured urine
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing
  • Dry skin
  • Cold hands and feet

You should also research the availability of public toilets before departing on your day trip. The Australian Government’s Public Toilet Map is a great source of information.

Choose the right activity

The right activity can make or break any senior outing. While different seniors will ultimately enjoy different types of experiences, it is important to choose something that will not only be enjoyable but won’t exhaust or overwhelm your loved one. Along with the right activity, it is also essential to include the right individuals in the fun as sometimes inviting too many people can be overwhelming.

Stick to routine

Keep your loved one’s normal routine in mind. Many seniors, especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, like to stay on schedule. This means planning activities around the senior’s normal eating and nap schedule if they rest during the day. Seniors should try to wake up, eat and go to bed around the same time before and during their outing to help them stay refreshed and focused during their time away.

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