Creative Elderly Stress Activities

Fun and effective elderly stress activities are an important part of overall senior care. And can help give relief and distraction from burdens that befall the aging. It should be noted that some seniors are introverts and need special and/or gentle urging to participate in some elderly stress activities. Others may have become lethargic and will need a bit of urging. Effective elderly stress activities involve several factors – physical, emotional, creative, mental, and spiritual needs.

It’s always important to consult the medical professional as needed if there is a question about any stress relief activities. Keeping these factors in mind, this article will summarize some effective ideas (and not just squeezing rubbery stress balls, which come in such shapes as cupcakes, golf balls, and cartoon faces).

TLC and Contact With Others

First, we’ll start with some typical stress busters.

Some usual activities

*  Holding and playing with great-grandkids.

*  Petting a pet that a friend or family member brought over.

*  Routine haircut. Just something as basic as that can help elders de-stress.

*  Do regular deep breathing together. When you count while doing this, it takes more focus, so you don’t think about something else.  Count for 4 seconds while breathing in, holding breath, breathing out, holding breath. Depending on a person’s health, you may need to consult a medical professional first.

Fun and Games

Games and laughter, of course, help with stress. But in addition to that, here are a few more fun elderly stress activities.

Creating, maintaining, or watching an aquarium

Retirement campuses sometimes have these, and so-called aquarium therapy is a known stress reliever. Just sitting and watching one is meditative and calming and can reduce blood pressure and pulse rate. Purdue University did a study with aquariums and Alzheimer’s patients, showing that patients became more alert and quiet.

Desk or table-top games

Golf putting game, bowling, magnetic dartboard, mini pool table, or “flick” hockey. (These are games with small objects, so would work only for those with a good eye and finger dexterity.)

Magnetic sculptures

Thisinvolve different magnetic metal shapes, sometimes in various colors, that can be stacked together in endlessly creative ways. Again, some of these may include small pieces, although they do come in various sizes.

Working with the earth

Working with plants and flowers are excellent elderly stress activities –- raised or potted gardens are perfect. Especially if it’s something you can eat later, like tomatoes or strawberries. There’s something about feeling one’s hands in the earth that is so therapeutic. Or the grass under one’s feet. Placing feet in a water feature such as a pool or stream also feels great.

Growing a bonsai tree

You can get them in kits with instructions. This project takes some care (and perhaps a little help), so offers a fascinating ongoing activity.

Tactile Activities

These types of elderly stress activities can be done while listening to music, chatting, or even watching a good movie on TV. Many engage several senses and distract the mind.

Running sand through the fingers

Potted plants and flowers can be spaced apart in a box of sand. When people come to tend to the plants, weed them, snip off dead leaves and blooms, they also love to run their fingers in the sand. Sometimes flowers that have fallen off their stems are laid in the sand to decorate.

Touch sensing activities

Slowly swishing hands in water or bubbles. Feeling something soft like plush velvet or wrapping up in fluffy fleece or soft angora. Or, working with clay, especially if it will be fired to complete a satisfactory project.

Another great activity is Sanding wood (with no slivers). Since feeling it get smoother and smoother is therapeutic. This is a great one for those who liked to work with their hands, build things, and use tools.

Some creative activities

Polishing or oiling wood until it gleams is a favorite “old-time” elderly stress activity for some. Others like to polish silverware until it shines. Likewise, joining a quilting group for a cause can be relaxing because of the goal and camaraderie too. Rug hooking is another tactile activity that is easy, yet involves just enough concentration to distract from the stress. There are loads of kits available in craft stores.

How about good ole washing dishes with plenty of bubbles in the sink. Many folks find this to be another pleasant and nostalgic activity. Another fun activity is Finger painting. It’s also one of the simple yet creative elderly stress activities in fact, some quite sophisticated artwork can be made.

Feeling soft, flowing paint between the fingers and watching trails of color slide across a piece of paper makes a really fun project. Colors also can be blended while painting to make new colors. This is especially fun for those with no “artistic ability” because there is no such thing as good or bad or making a mistake – just fun.

Be sure to cover the table with newspaper and wear a cover-up!. Either finger paint or poster paint can be used, adding a little water to the painting as needed, so it moves well on the paper. Paint can be put into muffin tins.

When dry, linear designs and details can be added with colored markers if desired. Try hanging the finished product(s) all together mural style. Or flatten under books, then laminate and used as placemats; perhaps laminate and cut into strips for bookmarks.

More Miscellaneous

Here are a few more random stress soothers…


Various scents (using real essential oils when possible) do calm the nerves, such as lavender, rose, lemon, peppermint, jasmine, sage, and vanilla. Other elderly stress activities involving aroma would be scented candles (which do come flameless); diffusers; hand, neck, and/or shoulder massage with scented oils; taking a warm bath with scented oils or bubble bath; making a lavender pillow or potpourri.

Good old times 

Looking through photo albums and talking about good old times and having a few laughs. (However, depending on the person and situation, of course, this can sometimes backfire and cause sadness or distress instead).

Japanese zen sand garden

A Japanese zen sand garden is a lovely and soothing tabletop pastime. You can purchase one in a kit or make one yourself. It usually includes a shallow wooden box filled with a thick layer of fine sand, some smooth pebbles of various sizes that can be rearranged over and over, and a small rake with which to create designs in the sand. Flowers to lay upon the sand design is another add-on option. This provides lots of hand-eye activity and is very calming.

Shopping Therapy

Inexpensive “Shopping Therapy” is a favorite pastime for many, and a reason to get out. For those on a budget, browsing at a thrift store, flea market or a few garage sales will do the trick. Finding ways to give to others is often a sure-fire way to dissolve one’s stress.

Relaxation room

Perhaps you can set up a little room or part of a room with a window and some sunshine, filled with a few uplifting things like a couple of very comfy chairs, footstools, colorful coffee table books to browse through, plants, flowers, hanging crystals, a table-top zen garden, a puzzle, a small water element or fountain, even a birdcage if possible.

You may also offer a foot massage to your elderly loved ones. Check out our Guide to Selecting the Right Foot Massage Solutions for more ideas.


Old age is not easy for the elderly. Instant and regular mood swings are a normal occurrence. This is primarily due to lack of sleep, energy, or maybe pain in different parts of the body. An important part of our elderly health care is to find ways to help relieve the ongoing burdens that cause stress. . While you cannot permanently change that, you can, however, consider the above-mentioned stress-relieving activities, which benefits both the mental and physical state of the senior and keeps them distracted from the not so worrisome problems.