There are many fun activities elderly people can take part in to keep their minds sharp, bodies strong and spirits high. Whether it's spending time outdoors, playing games with family and friends, or spending time working on a favorite hobby, doing things they love can benefit their overall wellbeing.
Activities That Make You Happy
Studies suggest that connecting with others, continuing to learn, and engaging all of your senses can help keep your brain active and sharp. This can significantly improve the quality of life for an elderly person, especially if mobility is beginning to decline. Encourage an elderly loved one to explore what they feel passionate about and to branch out and try new activities.
Elderly individuals who enjoy being outside may find birdwatching to be a fascinating hobby. They can spot birds or look for feathers while taking a nature walk, or identify species from the comfort of their own backyard while they listen to the birds sing. Older folks with limited mobility can also enjoy birdwatching in parks where smooth paved roads can accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. Keep track of the bird species you find with a notebook or snap pictures with your phone or camera. If you end up collecting feathers, you can paste them or press them into a keepsake book or frame.
Designing a Planter Box
Gardening is a great way to work on dexterity. Use your hands or gardening tools to cultivate your garden depending on which one is easiest for you.
Supplies and Instructions
For this activity you will need:
- A planter box (any size will do)
- Nutrient rich soil appropriate for the climate
- Herbs or flowers
- Paintbrushes and chalk paint
Once your florals or herbs have been selected, fill the planter box half full with soil. Dig small holes and place your plants into them being careful to leave enough space for each individual flower or herb to grow. Once all of your plants are in, fill the rest of the planter box with soil and gently pat down. Water your plants and place in a sunny or shady spot depending on which type of plants you've chosen.
Custom Decorative Art
To make your planter box unique, you can use chalk paint to decorate the outside of the box. Chalk paint dries quickly and does not need a base coat applied before using. Using a paint brush with a larger handle or sponges dipped in paint can make decorating the outside of your planter box easier.
Arts and Crafts
Whether it's learning a new craft or continuing with a favorite hobby, most arts and crafts activities can be modified as needed so that elderly individuals with certain physical limitations can still enjoy a favorite pastime.
Getting Crafty With Ceramics
Many ceramic projects only need light sanding and painting, resulting in a beautiful and rewarding finished piece. Research suggests that ceramics actually helps combat depressive symptoms because it triggers the reward circuit in the brain. This releases the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. Ceramics can be done in a comfortable seated position, perfect for those in wheelchairs. Create a beautiful bowl by gently putting pressure in the center of a rounded clay ball until an opening begins to form. Shape and mold the bowl however you'd like. You can also paint the bowl or glaze it if you're up for it. Working with ceramics is a great creative opportunity to work on dexterity while engaging the senses.
Scrapbooking Your Favorite Memories
Scrapbooking is a great way to commit your favorite memories to paper. These memories and images can be shared with family members. To create a beautiful book, you'll need:
- A large notepad or scrapbook template
- Images of your favorite memories
- Glue sticks and double sided tape
- Markers, pens, and anything else you'd like to use to decorate
Creating a scrapbook is personal, so take your time and highlight your favorite life memories. This project can be as simple or complex as you'd like, and you can always have someone assist with putting the pages together if dexterity is a challenge. If you do need someone to help, ask a close friend or family member and make it a fun opportunity to socialize and connect with them.
Game and Puzzles for the Elderly
Many elderly people enjoy spending time playing games or working on puzzles with family or friends. There are a number of companies that offer a large selection of games and puzzles that are adapted for people who have physical limitations such as low vision or arthritis. Some of these companies include Senior Store, Senior Sez and Masters Traditional Games.
Fun Game Options
While many elderly folks enjoy traditional games like bingo or bridge, others have fun playing nostalgic board games, games that challenge the mind, and computer games. Break out one of the following games when you want to liven things up.
- Senior Moments, a memory game
- Trivia games, like Trivial Pursuit and Suddenly Senior
- Scene It, a DVD-based trivia game series about movies and pop culture
- The Reminiscing Game, a game that challenges the memory with great nostalgia questions
Working on puzzles helps keep the mind sharp and alert. The same companies that offer adapted games for people with physical limitations also offer jigsaw puzzles with oversized puzzle pieces and crossword and word search books printed in large print. These puzzles can be worked on alone or with friends and family members. Studies suggest a happy and active social life is connected to lower levels of an inflammatory factor directly correlated with Alzheimer's disease, arthritis and some types of cancer.
Visit Senior Centers
Senior centers cater to both senior citizens and more elderly individuals. Naturally not everyone there has the same interests or physical and mental abilities. Joining a senior center is a great way to meet other people who share similar interests and engage in a wide range of activities. Although each senior center is different, they generally all offer:
- Card and board games
- Arts and crafts
- Exercise, yoga or tai chi classes
- Educational programs
- Support services and resources
Never Too Old to Have Fun
Regardless of age, everyone loves to have fun, and elderly individuals are no exception. Having a good laugh and sharing enjoyable activities can be a wonderful way to stay actively engaged in life.