Unique Social Distancing Ideas for Seniors

With the rising spread of the pandemic, many seniors are still vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. Because of this, continuing to practice social distancing can keep them safe during this time. However, it can be particularly lonely for seniors who are spending this time away from their family and friends.

To prevent this, there are plenty of fun activities for seniors that can be done online or outdoors. This list of games, hobbies, crafts, and sporting activities can help keep seniors both mentally and physically active in their later years. 

Top Socially Distant Activities for Seniors

It can be challenging to find appropriate social distancing activities for seniors with mobility issues or other health challenges. Through technology and online avenues, these ideas can keep your loved one happy and healthy during this difficult time. 

Play a round of golf

If you’re a fan of golf, paying a visit to the driving range or the green is a great way to continue to stay safe and active during the pandemic. By using your own golf cart, wearing golf gloves, and disinfecting your own golf clubs regularly, you’ll be able to practice your skills and keep your distance. 

However, if this isn’t your sport or isn’t possible in the meantime, there’s always mini-golf to consider. A backyard golf set can help you set up a smaller version of the game that prevents contact with others. You can also try setting up a makeshift putting course in your hallway with some boundaries for extra protection. 

Host a virtual movie night

Since enclosed cinemas may not be the safest place for seniors, a virtual movie night is a great alternative. You can ask your relatives to help you use an app like Netflix Party to simultaneously stream the movie of your choice with family and friends. This makes it feel like you’re spending time with them in person, and there’s a chat feature to share your thoughts.

Along with some comfortable pajamas, you can also enjoy some snacks like classic popcorn or gummy bears to add to the cinematic experience. Setting up a fun-filled movie marathon or themed genre per month can help you decide which films to watch next.

Try knitting or crocheting

It may look complicated at first, but knitting and crocheting can be quite quick to pick up as long as you master the basics. It can help improve dexterity and fine motor skills in older adults, and give them something to do while they are listening to music or watching television. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to get started, and the creative possibilities are endless. 

In addition, knitting can also improve symptoms of dementia because of the way it keeps the brain stimulated. From smaller projects like granny square doilies or more advanced sweaters, you can proudly gift your loved ones with handmade items made thoughtfully for them. 

Join an online book club

Reading is an accessible activity for those who have mobility issues. To broaden their sense of community, seniors can join a book club with others in their retirement community or neighborhood. To promote social distancing, family members can help their elderly loved ones set up Zoom sessions or group calls to discuss their thoughts. 

It’s a great way to make new friends who share common interests. Taking it in turn to select the title of the day can ensure fresh conversations and helps make everyone feel included. In addition to book clubs, seniors can also read children’s books to their grandkids over the phone. 

Complete brain-boosting puzzles 

Often, we tend to neglect our mental health. To keep seniors keep their minds sharp during the aging process, brain games like sudoku can boost cognitive abilities and provide a stimulating challenge. This has the added bonus of reducing the incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia while keeping them occupied throughout their day. 

If sudoku is too mathematical for you, there are plenty of word scramble games that you can also play online, in addition to crosswords in the newspaper. For visual learners, jigsaw puzzles are a fun and satisfying way to improve problem-solving skills. 

Learn a new skill online

For those who aren’t very familiar with technology, it can be intimidating to navigate the internet. However, there are plenty of free resources online that can help you get started with learning something new. For instance, Open Culture has hundreds of different courses to do with language, business, neuroscience, and more. 

There are also numerous resources you can choose from, including ebooks, audio recordings, and films to supplement your learning. Since it was founded in 2006 by Dan Coleman (Director and Associate Dean of Stanford University's Continuing Education Program), numerous classes by top universities have been added to guide you through your education. 

Get moving with an online fitness class 

There are plenty of exercises out there that can benefit older adults and accommodate different skill levels. By staying active, seniors can experience a more positive mood and greater well-being. Seated exercises, light stretches, and following online videos can help seniors build strength and improve their quality of life. 

As with any activity, it’s best to take it slow and listen to your body. Consult your physician or a licensed health professional before trying out a new exercise routine so you can ensure that you stay healthy throughout the entire process. 

Create crafts with photographs

If you have plenty of old photographs lying around, you can preserve these memories and get started on a crafty project. If you don’t have any, you can also print out digital photos from a memory card, phone, or computer at Costco or Walmart for a relatively affordable price. Ask your loved ones for assistance if you need some extra assistance during this step. 

Once you’ve got your photos, you can create a scrapbook and add papers, stickers, and other mementos to document your past, or make a collage for your wall on a canvas or corkboard. If you’re looking for something more functional to give as a gift, create a photo coaster with some Mod Podge and ceramic tiles. Don’t forget to wear safety equipment during the process!  

Try tai chi or yoga

High impact exercise may not be well suited to seniors with painful joints. However, research has shown that low-impact classes like tai chi and yoga can reduce stress while improving strength and balance. They can easily be modified to accommodate those with limited flexibility or decreased strength.

While there are plenty of online videos out there, you can also do outdoor classes with an experienced instructor to ensure that your form is correct. This way, you’ll avoid potential injury and progress much faster. Since there are plenty of variations of tai chi and yoga to choose from, you can take the time to explore different options to see what suits your style and ability. 

Encourage friendly competition with game nights

There’s nothing more exciting than some friendly rivalry to fire up that competitive spirit. As an alternative to traditional bingo nights, there’s virtual bingo that you can play online with those in your community. You can also go the more old-school route and use a megaphone if you live in a senior home so you can broadcast the numbers across different hallways.  

Using a video conference app can help seniors feel more connected with one another during gameplay, whether it’s bingo or other multiplayer games. A tournament-like format with prizes at the end can keep players motivated throughout the process. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe for seniors to exercise outdoors?

As long as they are fully vaccinated, seniors can do activities they did prior to the pandemic, including exercise. There may be some legal exceptions in local businesses, but exercising outdoors without wearing a mask is fine for healthy seniors. 

However, those with certain health conditions or who live in areas with a high number of COVID-19 cases might consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor areas and when doing exercise with others who are not fully vaccinated. 

How often can seniors exercise outdoors?

Ideally, seniors should spend 300 minutes per week doing a moderate-intensity activity or 150 minutes a week of higher-intensity activity. Seniors could exercise either indoors or outdoors depending on their preference, as long as it isn’t too hot or too cold outside. 

What are the benefits of keeping busy as a senior?

According to the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study, researchers found that seniors over the age of 50 that kept busy demonstrated more effective brain processing, better memory, improved reasoning skills, and more extensive vocabulary.

How can I make video calling easy for older relatives?

Since some seniors can find technology difficult to handle, you can help make video calls easier for relatives by showing them how to use Skype, FaceTime, or Facebook Messenger. Alternatively, smart devices like Amazon Echo or other voice-activated options can make it more intuitive for them to make calls to their loved ones. 

What types of activities can seniors with limited mobility do?

Some hobbies that are well suited for seniors with limited mobility include solving puzzles, knitting, crocheting, reading, playing board games, and learning a new language. Light exercises like stretching and chair yoga can also be beneficial. 

With a little creativity and imagination, it is possible for seniors to have fun while staying healthy and safe as the pandemic continues. There are plenty of ways to communicate effectively with others while maintaining social distance, whether it’s indoors or outdoors. 

Learn more about how to maintain overall senior health with comprehensive guides on senior care products, wellness, housing, and retirement planning on Senior Strong.

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