Your day off is here, and you’ve promised an outing to your senior family member.
You know it’s important to get this person out of the house to break up the daily routine. How do you prepare, and where can you go locally that will be amusing and safe?
Preparation is important for any outing. Review the items you’ll need: bottled water, medications, appropriate clothing and undergarments and snacks.
“We let our residents tell us what they want to do, and we are always asking for their suggestions,” says Shelley Bunce, director of sales and marketing for The Forum at Lincoln Heights. “We always let our residents know how much walking there will be because some people are not up for a long day of walking. It is also very important the activity director or whoever is taking their senior out scouts out the location beforehand, keeping in mind what their senior can and cannot do, along with the amount of time they will be doing the activity,” explains Bunce.
When preparing for an outing, consider destinations. If you need wheelchair access, call ahead to be sure it is available. Ask about handicapped parking if you will need it. If you are heading to the park, reconnoiter the paths you’ll use to be sure they are smooth and wide enough for two persons. Also check to be sure seating is available along the way.
Suitable activities depend upon the senior’s physical ability. Some people are up for and able to take on anything while others need gentler activities. Walks in the park, shopping trips to favorite malls, excursions to dinner and a movie are all possibilities. Talk to your senior about what she’d like to do and what she thinks she’s able to do. Then draw up a plan.
San Antonio outings
Depending upon the budget and your senior’s athletic prowess, you have many options from which to choose.
Morgan’s Wonderland is a great place to stay active and have fun. Staff members recommend an outdoor picnic, a stroll around the Walk & Roll Path, a ride on the carousel or a train trip around the 8-acre park. Morgan’s Wonderland offers Senior Fridays, where admission is $8 for ages 62 and up. Senior Fridays occur on the second and fourth Fridays of the month, beginning in April and running through December.
SeaWorld San Antonio is the largest marine life park in the world. Even if you and your senior aren’t into amusement park rides, there are lots of shows to enjoy. Exhibits and shows are wheelchair accessible, and a limited number of electric wheelchairs are available for rent. Be sure to call ahead to inquire about discount pricing (800-700-7786).
Six Flags Fiesta Texas might not be the first place to come to mind when planning an outing for seniors, but there’s plenty to do. Of course, there are the thrill rides and the family rides, but there are also great shows. Currently there are two musicals and an evening fireworks show. Call for park information and show schedule (210-697-5050) before your visit in order to take advantage of the best discounts and to plan for the activities you want to do. Wheelchairs and electronic convenience vehicles are available on a limited basis.
The San Antonio Zoo is open every day, rain or shine. The Zoo is home to more than 9,000 animals representing 750 species of animals on 56 acres. It features one of the largest bird collections in the United States and was the first to hatch and rear Caribbean flamingos. This is a great place to take a leisurely stroll and watch the animals and the people. Wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs are available on a limited basis.
If you’re looking for wildlife without the walk, drive out to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch, open year-round. Take the Drive-Thru and see reticulated giraffes peek over their enclosures, go eye-to-eye with the aoudad or kudu, and see elk, fallow, axis and the Japanese sika. Zebras, ostriches and emus will beg for food at your car windows. Get cold drinks at the Safari Camp Grill and walk through the petting barnyard. Call ahead for senior citizen discount pricing (830-438-7400).
If the heat is getting to you and your senior and if you are both in good shape, plan a trip underground to explore one of the area’s caverns. Natural Bridge Caverns, Cascade Caverns and Cave Without a Name are all a short drive from San Antonio. Wear comfortable walking shoes that provide good traction on steep, wet surfaces. Wheelchairs are not recommended.
The San Antonio Botanical Garden is a great place to get back to nature. The staff conducts monthly bird walks and native plant walks with docents. You can tour the 38-acre garden at your own pace with the garden map. After your visit, stop by the Carriage House Bistro for refreshment. Much of the garden is wheelchair accessible, but rain may make some areas temporarily challenging for wheelchairs. It is an uphill walk from the parking lot to the entrance.
When was the last time you went to the Witte? There’s always something new to see. The Witte’s backyard features historic houses from all over San Antonio. See the materials that were used to build log cabins, and try to build your own. Inside, prowl the Ice Age exhibit with its mammoths, saber-toothed cats and cave people. Call before you go (210-357-1900) to learn about senior discounts.
The San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) on the north end of the River Walk has an extensive collection of Asian art, as well as works from the Americas, Europe, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Exhibitions change regularly, so there is always something new to see. SAMA’s website (www.samuseum.org) provides a calendar of activities and events so you can make reservations when needed.
The McNay Art Museum is located in the former home of Marion Koogler McNay. It was the first modern art museum in Texas. The McNay is home to the Tobin Collection of Theatre Arts, which comprises more than 9,000 theater arts objects of scene and costume design. The museum sits on 23 landscaped acres and is a favorite location for bridal portraits. Admission for seniors (65+) is $5; the fee for adults is $10. You may tour the grounds for free.
The UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures in downtown San Antonio offers a good look at Texas’ cultural heritage. The museum tells the stories of the immigrants who came from around the world to settle Texas. Wander through the exhibits to see toys, books, clothing and other objects of settlers’ lives that seem so foreign to us now. The Institute offers senior discounts, and attendance is free to all on the second Sunday of every month.
The Briscoe Western Art Museum on West Market Street exists to preserve the art, history and culture of the American West through exhibitions and events. The museum is a collection of Western art and artifacts from the Spanish conquest to present day. See Santa Anna’s sword, Pancho Villa’s saddle, a Wells Fargo Western Mail stagecoach and much more. Call for hours and admission (210-299-4499).
With a little planning and preparation, you can confidently take your senior for an outing you both can enjoy!
“When we take our blessed seniors for their special day out, we take pictures to capture them enjoying and living the moment to the fullest. We cheer them on to celebrate themselves,” says Belinda Torres Hernandez, founder and owner of Senior Blessings. Hernandez goes on to say, “Either outdoors or indoors, our goal is to celebrate the human spirit. We don’t let the weather hinder us.”