As we get older, it becomes easier to allow the things that we once enjoyed to slip to the wayside. You might have an elderly parent or patient that was a tennis pro back in the day, but these days, they’re not up for more than an hour long movie on television or a walk around the block- and that’s okay.
However, if you’re hoping to encourage your loved one to try new things, you can use these tips as a guideline for helping them find activities that suit their physical and mental capabilities.
Finding Fun Things To Do
We are chameleons through all stages of life, and our needs and bodies can change wildly. However, you’ll always need to have fun regardless of how old you get. It’s important that our elderly loved ones never feel like fun is off of the table because of their age.
Here are a few ways to keep your elderly family members or patients connected with all the age appropriate activities that are available to them:
- Libraries and community centers are always hosting new and inventive programs designed to keep seniors entertained and involved in their community. Search your library’s website for fun events that are being sponsored by your local library, or stop by the community center to see if they’re hosting any fun classes geared towards seniors.
- If the senior in your life enjoys attending services at their church, synagogue, or mosque, there’s plenty of opportunities for them to sign up for events that will help get them out of the house. They can look forward to organizing meaningful events with their peers in addition to attending their weekly service.
Hands On Activities
There’s plenty of crafts for seniors that will keep them stimulated for hours. If an illness like arthritis isn’t an issue for your elderly loved one, an afternoon at the craft store can be the first step in finding an activity that allows your senior to be creative while having fun.
Knitting is an activity that requires laser focus, but yields a result like a beautiful blanket, scarf, or hat.
If your loved one isn’t interested in traditional crafts, it’s a good idea to try an activity like baking a batch of sweets that both of you can share.
Activities for the Mind
If you’d like to help your elderly relative or neighbor keep their mind sharp, activities like playing video games and gardening can help. The use of your short term memory, attention span, and reasoning skills are the ingredients to a fun afternoon of video games.
While experts in the gaming industry have yet to create a perfect set of games for seniors, it’s more than worth it to see if your senior is interested. Try playing a multiplayer RPG with your loved one, or introducing them to single player simulation games like The Sims. If video games don’t pique their interest, consider an activity that allows them to unplug. Gardening requires a great use of brain power and gives them a chance to be under the sun’s rays.
The sun will provide a much-needed boost in Vitamin D. A University of Manchester study conducted by a group of scientists proved that older individuals with low levels of vitamin D process information more slowly than those that did have normal or high levels of vitamin D, and this was especially true for men and women over the age of 69.
Activities for Active Seniors
Can your gray haired mother still run circles around you on the court or the track? Was your father a tennis pro back in the day?
Fit seniors that prefer to get their blood pumping might enjoy a bi weekly game of badminton. While badminton still gets your blood pumping and gives you a chance to get oxygen flowing throughout your body, it’s still gentler than its high- intensity cousin, tennis.
Additionally, if your loved one doesn’t suffer from mobility limitations, then attending one hour of a Vinyasa Yoga class a few times a week is the perfect way to keep them active.
Activities For Less Active Seniors
However, if your aging parent or patient can’t make it through more than one rotation of the Sun Salute without throwing in the towel, there are plenty of other physical activities for seniors that can help them stay fit. If the weather is nice, try encouraging them to take a walk around their block. They’ll be more comfortable since the route is in a familiar area, and significantly less intimidated by exercising if the key to staying fit is a scenic route around their neighborhood while sharing some of their favorite memories from the past.
If they’re more of a homebody or a long walk isn’t physically possible for them, you can always join them for an hour or two of one of their favorite classic film or television show.
Activities for Seniors in Nursing Homes
If you’re considering moving your loved one to a nursing home, you’ll want to take a few extra steps to ensure that not only are they getting the physical care that they need, but that they’re going to be entertained and content in their new home.
To ensure that the transition has as few bumps as possible, you should schedule a meeting with the head director of the nursing home to find out if the facility offers programs such as dance classes, movie nights, and field trips to local museums.
It’s a great opportunity for your elderly family member or patient to have a face to face conversation with the head of the facility that will help them find out if they will be content living there for years to come.
Working With Seniors
If you or a relative has taken on the role of a caregiver for an elderly family member, it’s important that your loved one is immersed in low- stress activities that will help them feel more independent. You should consider purchasing a book on seniors’ activity ideas in order to stay up to date on the best methods on caring for a loved one.
If the senior that you’re working with doesn’t suffer from any issues with long or short term memory loss, try helping them learn how to use a laptop or tablet with a front facing camera. Having the internet readily available can provide hours of entertainment, and more importantly, can help eliminate the possibility of elderly isolation.
A study conducted at UCLA revealed that seniors that are lonely are more likely to suffer from depression and a higher mortality rate. In order to help your family member stay connected, introduce them to the video chat feature so that they can catch up with long distance children or grandchildren. However, accompanying them on an IRL outing to see their favorite musician play can ward off symptoms of feeling blue, and help them appreciate spending time with their loved ones and everything that life has to offer.