When the people we love have passed away, we want to be at peace knowing that they enjoyed their final years. We don’t just want our seniors to stay alive by keeping them well-rested and well-fed. We also want them to have a high quality of life with fun and fulfilling activities for seniors.
Regardless of our age and physical state, everyone has the right to enjoy life. Our seniors deserve to wake up looking forward to those little moments that will make them feel peaceful and loved.
Planning activities for your senior will also ensure that they stay lucid longer. The right activities for seniors will not only be enjoyable but also stimulating. Sometimes the most simple, routine activities can be exactly what will give your senior purpose, and something to look forward to.
But how do you know where to begin? Seniors who are limited physically or mentally might be extra challenging to create activities for, especially if they are hesitant or unwilling to try new things.
The secret to coming up with the best activities for seniors might very well be to know your senior. Keep in mind what they like, dislike, and what sort of things are important to them. What one person finds fun and entertaining might be frustrating or even boring to another.
So, with all of this in mind, what are some good ideas for activities for seniors? Read on to see our list of some of the best and most fun activities for seniors of all kinds.
The Importance of Staying Active
It’s no secret that aging often means missing out on some of the activities we were able to do in the past. Sometimes alternative circumstances, like chronic pain, can even further limit the amount that a senior is able to do.
These obstacles, along with others, can make it difficult for seniors to stay active (both physically and mentally), and sometimes they can make it difficult to even want to stay active.
There are lots of fun and stimulating activities for seniors of all sorts, including those who are limited by physical or mental disability. Staying active not only has the potential to benefit physical and mental health, but it also gives you a chance to connect with your senior or allow others the chance to connect with them in a meaningful way.
Benefits of Staying Active for Seniors
- Connecting socially with others
- Giving purpose and meaning to life
- Adding routine to their days, which is especially helpful for people who suffer from short term memory loss, dementia, or confusion
- Physical stimulation and exercise
- Maintaining mental activity and brain health
- Aid with mental health and ward off depression and anxiety
Ideas for Activities for the Elderly
When it comes to activities for the elderly, there are lots of options to choose from. However, because seniors are often more limited than others, you might have to get a little creative or think outside the box. We’ll give you some specific ideas for activities as well as tips on how to adapt them to fit your senior.
Recreational Activities for the Elderly
Sometimes, the best way to relax is to keep the mind occupied. These recreational activities offer ways for seniors to interact with others and have a good time all at once.
Elsewhere in our guide we’ll discuss some more specific activity suggestions for seniors, but for now, here’s a list of some general ideas for getting your senior on their feet:
- Exercise classes, like water aerobics or a dance class
- Read a book
- Visit family or friends and spend the afternoon together
- Play or spend time with a pet
- Self-care activities, like taking a bubble bath
- Cooking a favorite meal
- Do a puzzle, or play a game
- Try some new food from a restaurant, or visit a favorite restaurant
- Watch a movie together
- Be silly! Suggest that you try a dance, or play with a pet
- Catch up with family, friends, or other loved ones via a phone or video call
- Video calls can be extra meaningful for seniors who don’t often see family outside the home; they’re about as close to face-to-face as you can get without actually being together!
Creative Activities for the Elderly
Did you know that engaging in creative expression offers an actual release for stress hormones? Creative expression gives an individual the chance to express complicated thoughts and feelings – things that are hard to put into words – in a deeply personal way. It can also be a great way to initiate discussion about feelings if your senior chooses to share their creative works with you or others!
Here are some ideas for expressing creativity:
- Painting, drawing, sketching, etc.
- Adult coloring books are great options for this; no drawing required, and very easy to understand!
- If your senior struggles to use their hands, some artistic mediums may be difficult to use (like small paint brushes or pencils, for example). Finger paint is a great, easy to use option for small projects.
- Visit places that are special/important to your senior and take photos
- Play an instrument, or listen to one
- Singing songs, or even writing songs!
- Cook or bake something new
- Creating a special recipe is also a fun idea!
- Write a story or a poem
- Do crafts
- A great idea for holiday seasons.
- Make a scrapbook or a photo album of important memories
- Try out knitting or crocheting
- A great way to use your hands, but also a great way to connect with others (gift-making, knitting clubs, etc.)
- Try out something new with your hands, like molding with clay, playing with play-doh, or making origami
- Practice taking pictures
Physical Activities for the Elderly
Physical activities can be the most challenging to come up with when it comes to seniors, especially when pain and physical limitations come into play.
Which physical activities are the most beneficial to try out will depend on your senior. The goal of physical activity is not to be completely exhausting and physically challenging, but to keep the body moving in order to maintain their physical health as much as possible.
It’s also a great idea to consider some moderations you can make to physical activities to make them more approachable. You might find it helpful to try and identify which element of the activity is challenging (is it a long distance? Is it a lack of energy? Is it limited mobility in a part of the body?) to best figure out how to remedy it.
Here are some great physical activities for the elderly:
- Walking short distances, like up and down a hallway or down the street
- Light jogging
- Bicycle riding
- If possible, try out gentle stretching and strength activities, like using some light weights or doing yoga
- Dance to a favorite song
- Walking up and down steps
- It may sound basic, but this can be a great way to get in some activity without leaving the home. Just be sure the hold your senior’s hand and remain close to them.
- Do some cleaning around the home, with assistance if necessary
- Water aerobics or water fitness classes
- Tending to the garden
Some seniors might require special care and accommodations beyond those we’ve already outlined. Sometimes health conditions, like dementia, can significantly impact your senior’s ability to do things (if you’re interested in our guide on activities for dementia patients, find it here.)
Some of the ideas that we’ve already listed might be easily adaptable if your senior is physically or mentally limited, but some may not. It’s always a good idea to discuss your ideas with your senior both to understand what they feel comfortable with, but also to get some insight into what sort of things your senior would like to do.
Activities for the Blind Elderly
The visually-impaired might have an especially hard time completing tasks, even more so if they have to complete said tasks on their own. Losing part or all of one’s vision can severely limit independence, which can be quite stressful and disheartening for many seniors.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep even blind seniors active and stimulated. Here are some ideas specifically for the blind elderly:
- Listen to music, a podcast, an audiobook, etc.; this option is especially great for the visually-impaired. If one sense is unable to be stimulated, turn to the others!
- Tell stories and share memories
- Light physical activity (see our physical activity list above)
- Go outside and experience nature – this can be very therapeutic and relaxing
- Interact with pets, or try pet therapy
When coming up with activities for seniors, things can get a little tricky. Seniors are often more limited in their mobility than others, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t still participate in all sorts of fun and stimulating activities!
The ideas in this guide are great options, but they’re also great ways to get you started thinking of your own ideas. After all, you know your senior best, and only you can fully account for their unique likes, dislikes, and necessary accommodations.
No matter what, remember that the goal is to have fun and connect with your senior. These activities are great ways to improve mental and physical health, but they’re also key parts of helping your senior feel like themselves. By fitting them into your routine, you can start to enjoy your time with your senior too, such that spending time with them is a fun release rather than an obligation.
Even through physical or mental problems, your final years with your senior can still be just as fulfilling, fun, and purposeful as all the other years you’ve shared together.
- Elderly Enrichment: The Importance of Activities for Seniors, American Orchards Arizona, https://www.americanorchardsaz.com/blog/elderly-enrichment-importance-activities-seniors/#:~:text=Physical%20activities%20provide%20the%20foundation%20for%20all%20other%20forms%20of%20senior%20wellness.&text=Additionally%2C%20senior%20physical%20activity%20decreases,to%20maintain%20their%20independence%20longer.