Activities for Seniors

Are you looking for fun, safe activities for seniors? Whether it's for an assisted living client, a loved one, or even yourself, the goal would be to find a low-impact exercise that promotes cognitive health, boosts mobility, supports overall health, and helps one achieve long life.

Now, keep in mind that if the person participating is already over 60, you'll need to be more careful with what game or activity you plan out. Having fun is great, but safety should always take precedence. Take note of the participants' specific physical/mental health needs and pattern your program around them.

To prevent the chances of getting seriously hurt or injured, you need to look for holistic, engaging alternatives. Be creative. There's than one or two ways to have fun, especially as one ages. Keep reading for more ideas on how to keep your senior loved one entertained!

Why Seniors Need To Do Activities

Our mental, physical, and cognitive abilities decline as we grow older. What was once a simple, easy task for you may be considered a tall, difficult challenge now. It's a sad reality we all have to face.

However, that doesn't mean we can't do anything to better the situation. One of the best, simplest ways to improve overall health and well-being while aging is to stay active. Not just physically, but mentally as well. Participate in programs and activities that will force you to use your joints, limbs, muscles, brain, and various sensory organs.

Here are the different benefits of staying active during old age:

1. Supports Cognitive Health And Brain Function

The brain is a muscle, and you need to exercise it regularly. Studies show that those who forego taking care of brain health are more at risk of complications such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia, among others.

To prevent similar complications, we encourage performing simple brain-stimulating tasks regularly. You can solve puzzles, play chess, read a book, write a journal, learn a new language, or even watch old TV films. Overall, your goal is to keep the brain by keeping it active. Note that the activity doesn't necessarily have to be academic.

2. Improves Overall Strength And Power

One can keep the body strong and healthy with regular exercise. You don't have to take on the same routines you did when you were younger, but it would be beneficial if you pushed yourself to become stronger every day.

Focus on safe, simple activities you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. Try walking, tennis, ping-pong, badminton, stretching, yoga, chair exercises, swimming, and radio calisthenics, among others.

3. Allows One To Socialize

One of the many mistakes senior residents commit is cooping up inside their rooms. Not only is this unhealthy for you physically, but distancing oneself from society deprives him or her of the necessary skills to interact with other people. The best way to address this issue is to socialize!

Take part in various programs and activities that allow one to socialize with others who are in the same age group as you are. The program you sign up for can be anything from an invigorating sports club to a studious book club. You're never too old to make new friends.

4. Reduces Loneliness And Alleviates Symptoms Of Anxiety

As you grow older, people will start to disappear from your daily life. Friends will go their separate ways, close relatives will pass away, and children will grow up. That's why too many senior members of the community experience loneliness and suffer from anxiety.

If you are suffering from the same mental challenges or know a loved one who is, we encourage taking up a new hobby. Remember: the idle mind is the path to evil thoughts.

There are dozens of possible hobbies to try out, so don't be afraid to explore your choices. See what peaks your interests.

5. Lets One Make The Most Out Of Their Days

It's sad to see seniors who have already lost all hope and are just waiting for their time to come. This is a very detrimental mindset. What you should do is try to make the most out of your every single day by doing as much as you still can! Life doesn't end when you reach your senior years. Rather, it's simply a new chapter.

Best Activities For Seniors

We've made a list of safe, fun activity ideas for and programs seniors and older adults with limited mobility/flexibility can try out.

1. Reading

senior reading

See that pile of unread books sitting in the corner of your home? Now might be an excellent time to get started on them. Reading is a fun, great way not just to pass the time, but to support cognitive health, improve focus, and sharpen one's memory, among others. That's why many senior living communities encourage group reading sessions.

In some cases, reading might even be a way to help seniors reduce their risk of Alzheimer's Disease. Studies show that older adults who suffered from memory issues such as dementia participated in fewer brain-enhancing activities and programs—puzzles, reading—during their senior years.

Helpful Tip: One way to motivate yourself to read more is to join a book club. Meet up with every club member at least once a week to talk about your group's designated book of the week. Apart from expanding your reading interests, this is also a chance to meet other older adults and senior residents in the area.

2. Walking

senior walking

A common misconception among older adults is that the aging senior body can no longer take on physical activities. This isn't necessarily true. Senior people who want to take care of their overall well-being can take on low-impact exercises such as walking.

Brisk walking for just 20 to 30 minutes daily can already help seniors improve heart health, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of adult disabilities, and even keep muscle pains caused by aging in check. Generally, the average healthy senior should strive to make at least 2000 steps daily.

If you're having trouble getting yourself to actually go on that walk, we advise pairing up with other health-conscious senior residents in your area. Set up a daily schedule where you'll walk around nearby track fields or community gardens. A. bit of healthy competition just might be the extra push you need.

Pro Tip: Those with special health needs should only exercise under supervision. There should be a trained professional to assist in case if accidents or emergencies.

3. Stretching Or Yoga

Senior Stretching

Stretching and yoga are ideal for seniors looking for easy, low-impact activity ideas to improve one's mobility, cardio-metabolic health, cognitive processing abilities, and overall sleep quality. These are fairly easy and any healthy adult can perform them. In fact

For senior residents doing yoga activities for the first again, it's best to join yoga programs and seek help from more experienced adult trainers. Have them check your form and position throughout the movements. Remember, even small, minor inconsistencies with one's form can be extremely damaging to the aging senior body.

Helpful Tip: If you plan on partaking in various sporting activities daily, we strongly urge you to do stretching and yoga as well. Properly warming up before any physical activity is an effective way to boost sports performance, support mobility, and reduce the risk of injuries.

4. Playing Board Games

Bring out the inner child in you and start playing more games! These are the best activity ideas to help seniors improve cognitive health, sharpen one's memory, and speed up decision-making skills while having fun. Plus, a bit of healthy competition can give older adults a sense of fulfillment and confidence boost.

Senior Playing Board Games

Studies also show that board games are proven to improve motor skills and hand dexterity among senior residents. Playing chess, checkers, and card games is a great way for older people to exercise their hands and wrists without partaking in a strenuous, high-impact game or sport.

5. Dancing/Simple Calisthenics

Dancing has always been a part of senior living. In fact, senior residents in Asian communities and countries such as Japan, China, and Taiwan have been doing radio calisthenics—a combination of light stretching and dancing exercise movements broadcasted through the radio— for decades now!

Regularly performing radio calisthenics improves motor skills, supports heart health, improves energy levels, and prepares the body for any harsher, heavier activity you might have to perform later in the day. The trend didn't quite catch on with senior living communities in America, but that doesn't mean you can't start now. It's never too late to try something new!

You can look for blog articles and video posts about radio calisthenics online. There are plenty of options on YouTube. You can do them by yourself at home or with others who might be interested in your newfound activity.

Helpful Tip: Try introducing the idea to the nursing home or senior living communities you reside in. Having other people around to support you while exercising would be very beneficial.

6. Cooking

senior cooking

For many older residents, cooking isn't just about putting food on the table. Rather, it's a fun, therapeutic activity that helps calm the mind, improve overall mood, and encourage self-expression.

In fact, cooking may even be a way to relive the past. People tend to associate things/memories with tastes and smells—and these can be triggered by specific menu items, meals, and dishes.

Also, cooking stimulates the senses, supports hand-eye coordination, and improves mobility. Your sense of taste, smell, and sight are all moving at once along with both your hands. It's definitely not an easy task.

Thoughtful Note: What seems like a normal family dinner to younger adults are perhaps some of the very few things your elderly relatives look forward to every week. The next time you visit home, spend some quality time with your mom and dad. Make sure you convey just how much you appreciate their cooking!

7. Gardening

Have you considered growing a garden? Studies show that regular exposure to plants, being able to breathe fresh air, and immersing oneself in a healthy activity is one of the best ways to reduce overall stress. In fact, the same research suggests that gardening may even be able to help some older patients control blood pressure levels.

Apart from the mental and psychological benefits, tending to a garden is also a great form of low-impact exercise for seniors with limited mobility. It stimulates dexterity and overall flexibility. Watering a garden and cutting weeds are much harder than most make them out to be!

Note that beginners don't necessarily have to build a big, beautiful garden right off the bat. A small home flower bed is a big enough achievement. Once you start learning more information about plants, you'll find out what your favorite options to grow are and what the ideal garden looks like to you. Remember: the goal here is to have fun!

8. Crafting

Senior Knitting

Crafting lets the artistic spirit of seniors flow by helping them rekindle their interests in drawing, painting, and sketching. They can even do other artistic activities for seniors, like pottery, knitting, creating jewelry, and any other crafting activity. 

Many adults enjoy the newfound creativity they discover as they get older, making crafting one of the best activities for seniors.

9. Volunteering

With so much time in their hands, seniors are looking for ways to remain relevant and purposeful in society. Volunteering can address that gaping hole. It can be a group activity for seniors where you can participate in selected causes like feeding drives, toy drives, or fundraising events. 

It doesn’t even have to be a big volunteering event. As long as you feel like you are helping someone else, that can be classified as volunteering. You may use your strength to help others. It can be cooking a meal for a shelter, knitting some clothes for orphans, or wrapping presents for kids. 

Unique Activities For Seniors

If you’re running out of senior activity ideas, these unique senior activities will keep you or your elderly loved one engaged and occupied. 

1. Birdwatching And Other Outdoor Activities

The natural world is full of pleasurable sights, sounds, and smells. As long as the weather is amiable, go out and be a nature explorer. Bird-watching and other nature activities are great ways for seniors to reconnect with nature and remember how they used to be when they were kids. Just be sure to get binoculars so you or your loved one can enjoy watching birds from afar.

Other activities for seniors to explore are kite flying, metal detecting, and nature photography.

2. Excursions

Who says seniors can’t go on excursion trips? One fun activity for seniors is going on field trips for laughs, exploration, and social bonding. Excursion places can be theme parks, museums, concerts, sporting events, art shows, and county fairs. 

When going outside for long hours, protect yourself or your senior loved ones by wearing protective sun hats. 

3. Animal Therapy

Animal Therapy for Seniors

Animals bond with seniors in a special way and can brighten their day just as much as anyone else. You don’t need to get a pet, you can visit animal shelters or ocean parks and zoos so you or your senior loved one can interact with animals. This can even be one of the many group activities for seniors you can organize.

4. Senior Pampering

Self-care is important at any age. Seniors also deserve to feel pampered by going to the spa or salon and enjoy massages, haircuts, mani-pedi, skin treatments, and more. This can also be part of senior living activities offered by most nursing homes. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Activities For Elderly

What kind of activities can you do with sensory bottles for seniors?

Contrary to popular belief, sensory bottle activities aren't limited to children. Having yourself or a senior loved one create sensory bottles, bags, and bins is a great way to improve:

Picking, moving, pinching, and scooping small objects a is one of the best, safest wats to improve dexterity.

Let the imagination run wild by coming up with whatever design you want. The sky's the limit!

Cognitive Function
Work and stimulate brain activity to support overall cognitive health by coming up with various patterns and designs.

There's really no rules on how to build or make sensory bottles. Gather small items such as rice, sand, glitter, pebbles, confetti, clay, and other decorative items then artistically place them in your small bottle, bin, or bag. Keep the finished product as a small trinket to fidget with or put it on display.

What are some activities for seniors who are immobile?

Seniors with limited dexterity don't necessary have to live a sedentary, boring life. There are a lot of ways to have fun without moving too much. Fun activities to try out include:

It's no secret that the sharpness of one's memory declines as he or she ages. Fortunately, keeping a journal helps preserve memories. Write down precious moments, big milestones, great achievements, or even simple daily activities. That way, these will always be available in black and white, no matter how forgetful one becomes.

Plus, writing is very stimulating. It supports creativity and forces one to put into words their experiences, emotions, thoughts, and feelings—expressing oneself isn't an easy thing to do. This can help relieve one of pent-up anger and frustrations.

Pro Tip: To make things more interesting, challenge yourself—or your senior loved one—to avoid using the same words. Expressing ideas is easier if you have a wide vocabulary.

Watch Old Movies And Shows
Thanks to the power of technology, seniors can now enjoy some of their favorite shows from the past beautifully remastered in high-quality definition. Even silent comedy films from the early 90s such as The Kid by Charlie Chaplin is available in full color.

Helpful Tip: Make sure you assist your senior mom, dad, or loved one in finding remastered versions of their favorite films.

Learn Technology
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Seniors looking to take on something new and challenging can try learning how to use modern technological gadgets such as computers, smartphones, and of course, the internet.

To make things easier, start with something simple like learning how to type. Then, move on to composing and sending an email. Remember: snail mail is outdated, so anyone who still doesn't even have a working email address might have trouble contacting long-distance friends and relatives.

Afterward, one can move on to more difficult tasks such as reading a blog (or even making a blog), looking for various information/resources on the internet, and watching videos on YouTube.

What are some fun activities for elderly in nursing homes?

There are a lot of fun activities for seniors. These can be:

Singing Karaoke And Other Performing Arts

Singing songs in front of others, even if it’s bad, helps you laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously. Skits or stand-up comedy can help you or your senior loved one remember how fun it is to tell stories in new or creative ways.

Other activities for senior citizens include senior karaoke nights, reading books in front of children, acting in a play, and hosting a comedy improv night.

Parties And Social Gatherings

Socializing is a fun way to spice up one’s life. Seniors can reminisce about the good old days as they talk about the past. Some of the senior activity ideas you can still participate in are:

-Casino nights
-Trivia nights
-Masquerade ball
-Hawaiian luau
-Secret Santa

Games And Puzzles
Games are a great way to interact with others and bring back a fun element to life. They remind seniors of their carefree childhood days. Check out these fun activities for senior citizens:

-Word search puzzles

What are examples of physical games for seniors?

Seniors can also participate in active games and sports to improve their physical well-being. Getting exercise through these activities for assisted living residents helps improve hand-eye coordination and leaves seniors feeling satisfied. 

Examples of physical games for seniors are:

-Golf and miniature golf
-Ball tossing
-Frisbee tossing

What are some indoor activities for seniors?

Seniors don't necessarily have to go outside to have a good time. Here's a simple list of the different ways to have fun indoors—whether you're with a loved one, family caregivers, or enjoying time alone:

Share Life Stories

Look back at the life you've lived so far and take a moment to appreciate how far you've come, the people you've met, and the challenges you've overcome. Take turns recalling fond memories, past challenges, and funny stories with your friends, loved ones, or fellow assisted living community residents. This is an entertaining, wholesome activity for both big and small groups.

Chair Exercises
Chair exercises is a safe alternative for seniors who cannot perform strenous outdoor sporting activities and exercises. Start with simple stretches. Once the body adapts and gets used to these movements, one can gradually try taking on more difficult routines.

What are some activities for seniors who are over 60 years old?

The key to building a safe yet engaging program for your senior loved one is to provide them with choices. If they feel an activity is too difficult, make sure you have something else for them to try out. Some good examples and ideas for senior activities:

Building An Outdoor VS. Indoor Garden

Many senior residents love taking care of plants. The fresh air is relaxing and being able to take care of another living thing gives one a strong sense of fulfillment and joy. In fact, that's why many assisted living communities feature beautiful gardens filled with all kinds of plants and flowers.

Sadly, working in an outdoor garden may be a bit harsh for our older seniors. Those with pre-existing conditions and illnesses might not even be allowed to stay out for too long in the sun, dig through dense soil themselves, or even carry a water canister.

One of the best ways to work around this issue is by shifting from outdoor to indoor gardens. Indoor gardens are a lot less hazardous and risky. The plants aren't as time-consuming to look after, seniors won't be exposed to unfiltered sunlight, and there are no heavy tools involved in the process.

Cooking Meals VS. Baking

As we said earlier, cooking is a therapeutic activity that can help one alleviate symptoms of anxiety, reduce stress levels, and even relive fond memories. Physical benefits, on the other hand, include improved dexterity and mobility.

However, cooking can be quite taxing on the body—especially when cooking full meals. Just think back to how tired your mom or grandmother was back when they used to prepare for holiday meals and feasts. This isn't something seniors well over 60 or 70 can easily do.

A good, safe alternative would be baking. It's less time-consuming, involves fewer recipe steps, and generally uses less dishware—cleaning dishes is part of cooking!

Plus, there's an array of baking recipes and ideas for one to explore. The recipes range anywhere from the easy no-bake refrigerator cakes to complex pie recipes that use dozens of different ingredients.

Tennis VS. Table Tennis

Tennis is a fairly low-impact sport many middle-aged men and women enjoy. It strengthens both upper and lower body muscles as one is forced to swing a racket as hard as they can while running back and fort in a small court.

While very beneficial, however, some seniors are no longer capable of playing the sport. Joint pain, limited mobility, and body inflammations are just some of the things that might prevent one from enjoying a good tennis game.

A good alternative would be ping-pong or table tennis. The racket is much lighter and there's no need to run back and forth a several feet in one game. Plus, ping-pong tables are only around 9 feet long, so they'll easily fit in most homes or even assisted living centers.

Additional Resources

Importance of regular exercise for seniors

BioMed Research International conducted a study in 2018 proving the direct effects of engaging in regular physical activity on overall health and longevity among people of old age. Findings show that the ideal exercise routine varies on a case-by-case basis. The best approach here is to have a medical professional advise you on what activities you can and cannot participate in.

Supporting cognitive health as you age

Studies strongly suggest that staying mentally active is the best, most efficient way to prevent cognitive function decline among seniors. You don't necessarily have to play difficult brain games every day—although, it's not a bad idea. There are other fun activities such as listening to music, watching movies, and reading books proven to improve brain function as well.

Importance of daily exercises at senior centers

Clients looking for senior centers for their mom, dad, or grandparents to stay at should go with options that incorporate daily exercise into their member programs.

Want to know more about how a senior can age and live gracefully and happily? Read more on Senior Strong today!

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