Preparing easy-to-make Halloween goodies is a great way for families to spend time with loved ones of all ages, and provide activities for seniors during a holiday we usually think of as child’s play.
So forget the tricks and head straight for the treats to have a fun time with your loved ones this Halloween!
“Making a variety of treats can serve as fun Halloween activities for seniors and their families, as they provide an opportunity to reminisce,” said Tara Burrow, Life Enrichment Coordinator Bethesda Hawthorne Place. “Making sweets often stimulates memories of being with their children or grandchildren.”
Creativity Come to Life
Mini chocolate donuts, M&M candies, cake frosting, and pretzel twists are all you need to make spooky Halloween spiders. It’s a project that’s fun for all ages. The donuts make the spider’s body, the curvy pretzels make good legs, and the M&M candies are perfect for eyes. A little bit of frosting can be used to keep the eyes in place, if needed.
Pumpkin Patch Pudding
Pumpkin patch dirt pudding is something that’s as fun to make as it is to eat, according to Tara.
You will need two packages of chocolate sandwich cookies, some cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, milk, whipped topping, 40 mellow creme pumpkins, vanilla frosting, and some green food coloring. Crush the cookies to make the “dirt,” then use the icing by following these instructions to create vines and leaves for the pumpkins you’ll spread across this tasty dish.
Sweet, Sugar-Conscious Snacks
There are also plenty of ideas that are fun and easy Halloween activities for seniors to make – even when they are watching their sugar intake or managing diabetes.
Witches Teeth are made with wedges of apples for the mouth and slices of almonds. Follow the instructions to make these, and find several other healthy Halloween-themed treat ideas.
Snack-O’-Lantern Fruit Cups
Snack-o’-Lantern Fruit Cups are a festive way to serve a health-concious dessert. Oranges can be carved to make mini Jack-o-lanterns. Fill them with your favorite fruit to make a healthy snack!
Frozen Boo-nana Pops
Dip frozen bananas into white chocolate to make ghostly figures called Frozen Boo-nana Pops. Add a popsicle stick for a handle and chocolate chips for eyes, and you’re ready to enjoy a Halloween favorite. You can make them even healthier by dipping them in low-fat vanilla yogurt instead of chocolate, and you have a tasty treat that totals less than 100 calories a serving.
Halloween Activities for Seniors and the Whole Family!
Elder One Stop has a page full of Halloween-themed food projects that are perfect for seniors to make with the family. A few treat ideas include ghosts made of marshmallows and orange-dipped strawberry pumpkins. For even more great Halloween recipes check out the Greatist!
These projects are ideal for family bonding because projects that are appropriate for seniors’ hands are often also perfect for the small fingers of children!
“When looking for ideas for baking and cooking activities for seniors, we consider the difficulty level of our population,” Tara said. “Due to arthritis and other similar issues, it can be hard to manipulate small, decorative items like piping bags. So we try to look for food products that are easier to handle, and will sometimes adjust the recipe to make things simpler. Foods that can be easily held such as cookies, and the use of icing and a knife to spread it, is much easier than using a piping bag, for example.”
Food for Thought: Snacks and Activities that Nourish the Mind & Body
Seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia respond well to activities involving food. Making snack time fun is a great way to stimulate their minds.
Still, if you want to partake in Halloween activities for seniors but don’t have a sweet tooth, there are lots of things you can do that aren’t food-related.
It’s easy to make decorative candy-collecting containers with a plastic cup and some construction paper, such as these fun Jack-o-lantern and black cat designs.
A used toilet tissue roll and some gauze can be fashioned into a scary mummy. First, paint the tube black with tempera paint. Next, use some plastic, beady eyes that you can get from your local craft store, and then just use some white glue to hold everything together.
“Our seniors find these Halloween projects to be really engaging and fun,” Tara said. “They seem to especially enjoy the ones that combine crafts.”
Here at Bethesda, we are always looking for new, creative activities for our residents, and we’re excited to share our favorite Halloween recipes and crafts with you and your loved ones! Come visit us and see what makes our senior living communities feel like home.