Senior citizens are often stuck at home for several days on end. When they have outlived their spouses, or don’t have family nearby, they are more prone to becoming bored and depressed. Luckily, there are a number of senior activities that can help them stay active and engaged.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), physical activity is vital for healthy aging and can reduce the risk of premature death. Adults 50 and older are especially at risk for chronic diseases, and physical activity is helpful in the prevention of these. In order to maintain their mental health, activities for seniors should also stimulate their brain, engage their creativity, and activate their problem-solving skills. Anything that fosters a sense of community is especially beneficial for maintaining their quality of life. If you are wondering what activities are good for seniors, read on for our top ten list.
Water-based exercise can decrease the risk of chronic illness. It is also helpful for those who suffer from arthritis. Because movement in water naturally provides resistance, swimming and water aerobics are ideal cardio exercises for seniors. The weightless sensation in water makes these movements low-impact on joints, which is especially helpful for aging adults with chronic pain. Many community centers, senior activity centers, and YMCAs have indoor pools and offer senior programming.
While shopping may seem like a chore to some, it is a great way to get seniors out of the house and in a more stimulating environment. With COVID-19 still present and considered a major risk for our more vulnerable population, indoor grocery stores may not be the ideal choice for a recreational shopping trip with your mom or dad. In this case, consider searching for and visiting outdoor flea markets, farmer’s markets, or craft fairs. Search the local newspaper for yard sales in your neighborhood as well.
3. SCENIC DRIVES AND ROAD TRIPS
Sometimes all it takes to combat boredom and isolation for an elder is to change up the scenery. When limited mobility is an issue, consider taking them for a scenic drive or road trip. If you live in an area where the leaves change color in the fall, they will enjoy driving through nature to see the beauty. If you are in the Boston area, consider taking them on a day trip to drive up to the top of Mount Greylock. It is the highest point in the state, and the summit is accessible by car. The views from the top are incredible and they can enjoy fresh, clean, Berkshire air.
If you aren’t quite sure how to motivate seniors to participate in activities, consider setting them up with a chair yoga video at home. Since in-person classes are largely minimalized due to the pandemic, and many seniors are staying in whenever possible, they can easily enjoy this low-impact activity from the comfort of their own living room. There are many health benefits of practicing yoga. Contrary to popular belief, the student does not need to be at all flexible or athletic. Much of this ancient practice is done through breathing and meditation, making it accessible to older adults.
Golf can be a fun and exciting way to get your senior outside and with friends. They can walk from hole to hole or ride a golf cart if mobility is an issue. Sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for mental and physical health at any age but is especially important for seniors who may be stuck indoors for long periods of time. Golf is also a sport that can help exercise and refine gross motor skills, which naturally decline with age.
6. INDOOR GARDENING
Even when space is limited, seniors may enjoy the creation and caretaking of a small herb garden in their kitchen. It can be rewarding to nurture new life. Plus, who doesn’t love the flavor of fresh herbs in their cooking? Herb gardens can also be healing and aromatic in the home. Many herbs and small plants are easy to find, grow, and maintain.
Once the herb garden has matured, seniors will enjoy cooking with their new, home-grown ingredients! This can be a fun and creative way to incorporate healthy life-preserving habits into their routine. If the seniors in your life don’t know about Pinterest, this can be a phenomenal resource for finding unique and exciting recipes. It may also be a great gateway to introduce unfamiliar technology.
Scrapbooking is one of the best craft activities for seniors. Nostalgia is common for the elderly population. Compiling old memories, photographs, and keepsakes into beautifully curated pages may bring joy to those who spend a lot of time alone, indoors, or sedentary.
9. KNITTING OR CROCHETING
Knitting and crocheting are also some of the best craft activities for seniors. Patterns can be as simple, free-form, or as complex as they would like. Creating something beautiful and functional from a single strand of yarn will likely feel rewarding. There is nothing more comforting or sentimental than a hand-made blanket from someone you care about. By requesting that they make these items for you and other members of your family, you are likely to give your elders a sense of purpose.
10. VISITING THE LIBRARY
Our final activity is to bring your mom or dad to the library. A membership card is free and will give them access to thousands of books, articles, and in some cases public computers with internet and collections of DVDs and videos for rent. If they aren’t gung-ho about social media or reading the news online, they may enjoy a low-key outing to the public library. There they can potentially join book clubs and connect with other seniors with common interests.