Activities for the Elderly

elderly activities

Improvements in medical services, opportunities for a better quality of life and adequate financial resources have contributed to an increased lifespan worldwide (with few exceptions). According to the latest statistics, 1/5 of the population of the European Union was over the age of 65 in 2018. By 2100, it is expected that 14.6% of the global population will surpass 80 years. (R)

The aging population has specific health needs, often determined or rather influenced by limited mobility. Even though this might be an issue, they will still need to be engaged in recreational activities. These contribute to the general well-being, Play, it seems, is just as important for children as is for the elderly.

Even though one might battle a number of chronic conditions, with his/her mobility being affected, this doesn’t mean that he/she can’t still enjoy a wide range of activities. It is a known fact that many of the older adults have mobility issues caused by diverse medical issues, such as arthritis or stroke. Injuries induced by falls can contribute to limited mobility as well.

Despite the loss of mobility, one can at least try an activity for seniors that suits his/her personal preferences. There are plenty of wonderful activities recommended for older adults, either to be enjoyed individually or as part of a group. The most important thing is that one finds the power to enjoy life as it is, without being afraid to try new activities.

1. Reading as a pastime

If you are wondering what are good activities for elderly people, reading should be at top of the list of possibilities. This is a simple yet quite entertaining possibility, helping older adults pass the time and keep the brain young. Frequent reading is beneficial for memory, it can relieve stress and help one sleep better. Last, but not least, it can keep cognitive decline at a safe distance.

One might choose to read books as such or opt for an e-reader, gathering an impressive collection of electronic books. Audiobooks represent an interesting option, allowing one to hear interesting works read by other people. Reading magazines and specialty books is also encouraged.

As many famous authors have said throughout time, reading takes you to whole new worlds. As you immerse yourself in a story, your imagination becomes alive. You can look at the photographs in the book and instantly be taken in the respective setting. You can learn about new things and keep yourself entertained. Or, if you are looking for social activities for the elderly, you can organize a book club. In this way, you will have the opportunity to socialize and discuss your latest read at the same time. (R)

A hobby or more can help you feel occupied

In older age, despite your limited mobility, you can still explore a lot of interesting hobbies. Whether you live alone or with your spouse, there are plenty of opportunities for filling your time. Regardless of the hobby you prefer, you will learn a lot in the process, keeping your brain active and chasing boredom away.

You can concentrate on activities that do not require a lot of physical movement. For example, you can learn to cook international recipes or to bake some of your favorite pastries. You can become an avid bird watcher, try your hand at knitting or crocheting, or learn how to take care of house plants (indoor gardening).

Depending on your interests, you can take lessons on playing your favorite instrument or learning a new language. You can even give scrapbooking a try, with Project Life offering you a core kit to dive into your new hobby. There is no better time than the present to learn something new, especially if you have spent all of your adult life working in a job that failed to satisfy you. (R)

2. Physical exercise for the body and the mind

Limited mobility does not mean you should give up on physical exercise altogether. With the help of a physical therapist, you can develop a training routine adapted to your current potential. Whether you perform your exercises while sitting or standing, you will still get plenty of benefits, for both the body and the mind.

The physical therapist can show you exercises that can be done, for example, on a chair. Yoga is also recommended, as it can increase mobility and stimulate mental health. A walker can be used to perform exercises while standing, offering increased stability. Some of the exercises might help you deal with other discomforting symptoms, such as inflammation or pain.

When it comes to group activities for elderly people, physical exercise is a definite option. For example, water therapy sessions can be performed as part of a group. What matters is that you remain active, trying to utilize your existent potential to improve both physical and mental health. Training as part of a group also offers the benefit of socialization, so keep that in mind. (R)

Discover your creative side

Perhaps you have always been creative. But you had to work, raise a family or travel. In older age, you have the freedom to do what you want. And, like you are probably aware, you finally have the time to get creative. As you discover this facet, you will soon realize how fast the day goes by when you are engaged in fun activities.

You can try drawing, starting with something simple and moving towards more complex representations. If you like coloring, there are plenty of adult coloring books you can give a try. You can paint, drawing your inspiration from the things that surround you or nature itself. Perhaps you can give pottery or sculpture a try, always being on the lookout for new ways to be creative.

As mentioned above, you can create a scrapbook, including mementos from various trips, photos and so on. You can take your time and organize all of the albums containing family photos. Or, if you are quite the cook, you can create a book that contains all of your recipes, including those transmitted from one generation to the other. Creative activities can keep dementia away and give one a sense of purpose.

Research has confirmed the connection between creative activities and general well-being. In fact, those who are suffering a chronic condition are encouraged to pursue such activities. They offer an opportunity for the release of negative emotions and stimulate positive thinking. Moreover, they reduce stress and anxiety, improving the outcome as a result. (R)

3. Time in nature does wonders for the aging body & mind

Humans need to spend time outdoors, as this fills them with positive energy and relieves stress without any effort whatsoever. Time in nature can do wonders for the body and the mind, having a wonderfully relaxing effect and boosting one’s mood in an instant.

Even if you are dealing with limited mobility, you can still sit by a window and take in the wonder of nature. If you live in a house, you can go out on the porch and enjoy the fresh air, admiring the immediate surroundings. What matters is that you acknowledge the importance of spending time in the open outdoors. If you are more mobile, you can organize trips with other people of your age, taking advantage of the time you have to discover new places in your area.

From a different perspective, remember that fresh air keeps the brain oxygenated, which is quite beneficial for the aging mind. You can accustom yourself to taking a short walk every morning so that you can benefit from the fresh air in the first hours of the day. These are some of the best recreational ideas, and you will definitely notice the benefit even a short walk can bring. (R)

4. Have people over on a regular basis

You should never underestimate the importance of being surrounded by people. If you are looking for things to do, you should consider having family members or friends come by on a regular basis. This will allow you to engage with adults and feel more relaxed.

Playing with babies has an amazing effect on older people, improving the mood and offering something one has to look forward to. The same goes for interacting with different pets. Such interactions have been known to produce utter joy, relieving stress and anxiety in an effective manner. They offer a suitable elder activity, without demanding anything in return. (R)

5. Games for a young, active mind

Aside from physical activities, you can occupy your time with all sorts of games. These cognitive activities stimulate important functions of the brain, allowing you to stay young. You can opt for a puzzle, play a game of cards or do the crossword puzzle. There are also plenty of brain games to consider, depending on your preferences.

You can play the games on your own or together with friends, having the time of your life. Regardless of the game, you decide to play, your brain will benefit from such activities. Similar to a physical workout, it will help you improve your memory, enhance cognitive and problem-solving skills, as well as to form new connections. (R)

6. Listening to music and watching TV, activities for senior citizens

When it comes to activities for senior citizens, listening to music and watching TV definitely make the list. One can gain a lot of enjoyment from watching movies, TV shows, documentaries – they can forget about medical issues and just relax, enjoying themselves in the process. Cultural productions and documentaries are useful for learning new things about topics one is interested in.

If one is passionate about cooking, there are specific shows that can be viewed, in order to learn and try new recipes. There is also the possibility of watching traveling documentaries/shows, so as to dream about various destinations. Listening to music, as well as singing, can relieve stress and anxiety, and even pain. It has been shown to improve immunity, to battle memory impairment and insomnia. (R)

Giving back can guarantee a meaningful existence

We often feel as if there are no activities for the elderly and that old people have nothing more to offer. This is a false belief and we should always remember that each person has value. Even if you are at an advanced age and retired, this does not mean that you cannot be active. You can give back to your community, finding ways to stay engaged and gain a sense of purpose.

You can come in contact with local NGOs, hospitals or other organizations that help people. Some of these charities might have projects that require the involvement of older adults in particular. Even wheelchair-bound seniors can participate in various activities, such as knitting, assembling a care package or making hats. (R)

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Alexandra V.
Alexandra V.
Alexandra V. holds a degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Carol Davila. She holds an additional degree in Journalism and writes in English and German. She is passionate about preventative health care and an undergrad in Medicine.
Alexandra V.