There’s no doubt that a DC winter can feel long and dreary. The area experiences shorter stretches of daylight and gloomier, colder weather conditions for months at a time. For seniors in particular, the season of snow and ice can make staying active, healthy and motivated a real challenge. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for you or the senior in your life to get up and enjoy the day.
Efforts to maintain strength of both body and mind are especially critical for older adults as they age, regardless of the season. So if you’re looking for ways to keep you or an aging loved one busy, healthy, and in high spirits over the next few months, check out these local activities that are sure to engage.
Popular Winter Day Outings in DC
As you plan some opportunities to get out and take advantage of all that the local area has to offer, be sure to put these senior-friendly excursions on your bucket list.
The Wharf is a wonderful wintertime destination, the “most exciting neighborhood in the history of the nation’s capital.” Spend an afternoon or a whole day exploring the mile-long stretch along the Potomac River, which includes an array of interesting restaurants, retailers, views and culture. One of The Wharf’s most iconic spots is the torch fire pit, a 14-foot, gas-powered flame situated by the water at the end of the pier. It is a marvel to see and experience, including the chance to make delicious s’mores and participate in free winter games.
The Library of Congress
The Library of Congress hosts an exciting (and free!) movie series in its Pickford Theater during the early winter months. This year’s theme is A Year of Change: Best Picture Nominees of 1968, featuring five wide-ranging films that paint an in-depth picture of American life in the late 1960s. You may also consider checking out a tour, an exhibition, a scheduled concert or lecture, or the expansive reading rooms. There are even opportunities for dining and shopping at this DC staple.
The Washington Harbor
Nestled along the Georgetown waterfront, the Washington Harbor affords beautiful views of the Potomac River. The boardwalk is a perfect place to admire the nation’s iconic scenery, from boats traveling across the water to illustrious views of the Kennedy Center, Watergate, Key Bridge and neighboring state of Virginia. In winter, the Washington Harbor is also home to DC’s largest outdoor ice skating venue, open for recreational skating every day from mid-November to March. The rink offers Senior Admission for just $9 per person.
The National Arboretum
The U.S. National Arboretum is a trove of treasures among gardens full of natural beauty. From the Capitol Columns and the Bonsai & Penjing Museum to the seven-acre Gotelli Dwarf and Slow-Growing Conifer Collection, you have the chance to experience some of the most impressive and comprehensive collections in the world. Admire the charm and elegance of 1,400 specimens, and relax in the gazebo that overlooks the area. The Arboretum grounds are open every day of the year (except December 25) from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily (except for federal holidays) from November through February.
Indoor Activities to Warm the Soul
Even though there are many exciting winter attractions in DC, if you or the senior in your life are restricted by physical or other challenges, you may be looking for more low-key options to stay active and healthy during the cold winter months. Regardless of the specifics of your unique situation, it is important to consider activities that prevent feelings of boredom, isolation and loneliness.
The following activities are ideal opportunities to stay both engaged and uplifted no matter the location or other relevant restrictions for you or your aging loved one.
- Video chats with family and friends: When frigid temperatures lead to a significant amount of time spent indoors, you or the senior in your life can help combat the winter blues by reaching out to family and friends who may live far away. You can set up a computer, laptop or smartphone to enjoy live video chats with the special people in your life.
- Cooking with company: Sharing a meal with others is fun, but cooking together is even better! Consider planning to make a delicious, hot meal with friends or loved ones. From reading recipes and calculating measurements to setting timers and performing the cooking, there are lots of opportunities to stimulate the brain. This is especially beneficial for seniors who are seeking to get ahead of cognitive decline and strengthen memory functions.
- Routine, low-impact exercise: To boost feelings of positivity and confidence, improve coordination and balance, and help prevent falls, think about designing a regular exercise routine. It might include options like daily walks, yoga, swimming or even simple stretching. These are all reasonable and highly valuable ways to integrate low-impact exercise and stay social during the winter season. You might even want to look into fitness videos in DVD or live streaming format. There’s a variety of offerings that cater to all ages, genders and physical capabilities.
Keep in mind that particularly for seniors, safety is always of paramount concern. Regardless of which activities you or your loved one choose to incorporate this winter, make sure that safety is a top priority.
Ultimately, staying active and healthy during the winter months is all about focusing on overall well-being. From outdoor DC excursions to social activities, brain boosters and physical exercise, seniors have lots of opportunities to keep the cold weather from putting a damper on their day.
Forest Hills of DC is an inclusive senior living community offering a full continuum of care and support for seniors in the Washington DC area. To schedule a tour or get more information about how we cater to seniors in a safe and home-like environment, call us at 202.966.7623.