Recreational Activities for the Elderly

Is Mom or Dad getting tired of the same old routine day-in and day-out? Then maybe it’s time to mix things up with some fun activities. The following are ideas to get your elder loved one’s mind moving and blood circulating.

Happening Hobbies

It’s never too late to start up a hobby. Seniors can choose from a wide range of activities done alone or with others during a class or social gathering. The following ideas might spark some interest:[1,2]

  • Calligraphy: Calligraphy is a challenging and unique talent to learn and might even help seniors make a little extra cash.
  • Photography: Seniors can capture moments in their lives and keep albums to look through during downtime.
  • Flower arranging and gardening: Even if a senior’s gardening is done for her, she can still enjoy creating potted plants or flower arrangements for indoors.
  • Scrapbooking: All seniors have a lifetime of memories to share and reminisce about and scrapbooking is the perfect way to keep it all in one place.
  • Stamping: Seniors can have fun and save money by creating their own stationary and greeting cards.
  • Quilt making, knitting or sewing: These therapeutic pastimes are great for making gifts or selling.
  • Foreign language: Seniors might finally have the time to dedicate to learning a language they’ve always wished they could speak.
  • Art and painting: Painting and drawing are entertaining ways to express oneself and keep those creative juices flowing.
  • Computer and Internet use: Playing computer games or searching online for sources of interest make for a great pastime.
  • Fishing or hunting: Fishing and hunting are the perfect excuse to spend time outdoors.
  • Sightseeing: Local sightseeing groups take trips to nearby places of interest.
  • Bingo: A common activity held for seniors, bingo is easy to find locally.
  • Cards: Playing cards alone or as part of a club is an inexpensive source of entertainment.
  • Reading: Joining a book club can be a fun way to pass time and meet new people.
  • Volunteering: If a senior misses the everyday routine of work, volunteering might be a rewarding replacement.

Engaging Exercises

Moving around doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, exercise can be fun if seniors incorporate activities that they enjoy into their exercise routine. As an added bonus, scientific studies show that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities.[3] Additionally, even moderate exercise and physical activity can improve the health of people who are frail or who have diseases that accompany aging.[3] The following are a few activities fit for seniors:[4]

  • Walking is a great way to start moving alone or with a friend. All seniors need is a pair of comfortable walking shoes and a comfortable place to walk. From a shopping mall to a park, there are endless places to choose from.
  • Senior sports or fitness classes offer a fun way to stay fit, help relax, and relieve stress. They are also a perfect place to meet friends and stay socially connected.
  • Water aerobics and water sports provide advantages over land-based aerobics, especially for seniors. The water reduces stress and strain on the body’s joints, and at the same time, increases resistance and exercise for the muscles, enabling seniors to burn calories more efficiently.
  • Yoga combines a series of poses with breathing, which works on strength, flexibility, and balance. Yoga can accommodate a wide range of levels and disabilities, using a chair or other props to start.
  • Tai Chi and Qi Gong are beneficial to both mind and body, helping with improved ability at daily activities, better balance, and increased strength.
  • Ballroom or square dancing are great low-impact activities that allow seniors to move at their own pace, and if taken in group classes, don’t require a partner.

How to get started

While senior citizens are often unaware of all of the services that are available to them, they might be surprised to find many classes and activities offered in their area that are suited just for them. The following resources are good places to start.

  • Recreation centers: Local recreation centers provide programs for both young and old.[5]
  • Senior centers: Many of the activities mentioned in this article are offered at senior centers.[5]
  • Colleges: Local colleges often offer adult learning classes and sometimes offer longer term activities or semester-long classes on a wide range of topics suited for seniors.[4]
  • Craft and sewing stores and dance studios: Craft and sewing stores tend to hold how-to classes on the topics, while dance studios offer a wide range of classes for different age groups.
  • Church groups: Many congregations have active senior citizens’ groups that arrange fun outings for members.[5]

When you sense your loved one suffering from boredom, remember there are endless activities catered just for the elderly.

References

  1. Jennrich, Janienne. (November 19, 2007) Retrieved July 1, 2009 from the Suite101.com Web Site: http://senior-leisure-activities.suite101.com/article.cfm/fun_activities_for_active_seniors.
  2. Hardy, Marcelina and Kelley, Tracey. (n.d.) Activities Crafts for Senior Citizens. Retrieved July 1, 2009 from the Love to Know Web Site: http://seniors.lovetoknow.com/Activities_Crafts_for_Senior_Citizens.
  3. National Institutes on Aging. (March 19, 2002) Exercise for Older Adults: Benefits of Exercise. Retrieved July 1,2009 from the National Institutes on Aging Web Site: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/exercise/benefitsofexercise/04.html.
  4. Helpguide.org. (n.d.) Senior Fitness and Exercise. Retried July 1, 2009 from the helpguide.org Web Site: http://www.helpguide.org/life/senior_fitness_sports.htm.
  5. McGee, Susie, Karam, Misty, Kelley, Tracey. (n.d.) Recreational Activities for the Elderly. Retrieved July 1, 2009 from the Love to Know Web Site. http://seniors.lovetoknow.com/Recreational_Activities_for_the_Elderly.

By C. J. Newton, MA, Counseling.info Editor

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