Favorite elderly activities include crafts, exercise, hobbies, relaxation, games, mental exercises, large print activities, party ideas. But is it only just to pass the time and have fun? Or is there more to it?
Studies have shown that stimulation activities can be crucial for physical, mental, and emotional health, plus also for memories. The activities described below aim to work with these.
Best Elderly Activities
Conversation Strengthens Memory
In a University of Michigan study, psychologist Oscar Ybarra at the U-Michigan Institute for Social Research tested a large group of people up to 96 years old. He found that just 10 minutes of conversation with a friend worked just as well as elderly activities involving brain games, like crossword puzzles, to strengthen the memory.
“In our study, socializing was just as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance,” he said. So the elderly should have plenty of time to socialize. It not only will help with memory but also depression and loneliness.
Make Art to Music
Music can be very soothing, and so can doing art. Combine the two, and you have the power to refresh your elderly. Get out some paper (large-sized is great), some colored chalk pastels, watercolors, even crayons. Put on some calming music (it can still be a little peppy if you’d like) and have your group just do whatever they feel.
Tell them they can’t go wrong – it’s about doing art with feeling, rather than trying to create a masterpiece. The music will create the feeling. Everyone loves it, even those not big on art.
Puddle painting is one of the easiest kinds. You need good watercolor paper and watercolor paints, with a few brushes, water, etc. First, just paint a puddle with plain water, grab a flower (or bird, etc.), and to shape it onto the paper.
Then load a brush with bright paint and dab it onto the edge of the water puddle. Dab another color onto another edge, and water the colors spread. You can also lightly brush a bit of paint into the middle of the shape. Later you can paint on a stem and simple leaf. Or add them on with markers or colored pencils.
Also, just make random designs the same way all over the paper. Let it dry. Then cut them into strips and laminate them as bookmarks. If you do a painting on a paper sized 8×10 or larger, you could also laminate them and use them as placemats.
Do you need a watercolor paint set to get started? AEM Hi Arts Watercolor Paint Artist Set is an excellent option to opt for. It includes 24 tubes of watercolor paints that are portable, small, and washable—a great choice for kids, the elderly, and professional artists.
Play Chimes – the Easy Way
We had a guest writer share tips and expertise about a very simple way to create music without having to read music, practice, or have talent. Easy enough for kids and families.One of the activity consultants has played chimes herself and really recommends it. It’s a simple and satisfying activity, either alone or with a group. Music can be an uplifting and social experience.
Make a Gift Basket
There’s nothing more satisfying than doing something for someone else. Giving gift baskets provides many more elderly activities. They’re also an easy way for the elderly to contribute to a meaningful project, whether for a fundraiser, raffle, silent auction, someone who is sick (including children), a celebration, or special occasion.
Older seniors may have a special something to add to the basket (perhaps a piece from a collection or a vintage item) to make it especially personal. Or they may still knit, do needlework, woodwork, art, etc. Their skills and caring to make a difference are important!
Hobbies are not just a way to pass the time but offer something to get up and get excited about, look forward to. Depression can involve having no “goals” or the blahs from not having anything to anticipate. And it’s never too late to begin new elderly activities. Especially, if a previous hobby is no longer do-able — then people become a little more open-minded about trying new elderly activities to challenge and entertain themselves.
We help elderly loved ones choose an activity that may be somewhat related to their previous hobby, yet different enough to learn something new.
If seniors are no longer able to do their favorite hobby in the usual way, find alternative ways to do it or to share it. Cooking, for instance. New elderly activities could include helping them create a family recipe book, put it on the computer, and create a small booklet for family and friends.
Organizing Mom’s recipes into a booklet form can be a fun activity for the elderly to do. Or watch the Food Network or Travel Channel with them on TV.
Ask them to discuss the recipes and what they think, and how they might enhance them. Or if they had ever cooked a similar recipe and what they did. Look over new cookbooks from the library with them, and then have them help you in small ways to prepare a new dish. And of course, eat it! Read about foods from other countries and their customs (some of them are pretty wild, to us!)
You can do the same type of elderly activities with any hobby, such as gardening, home decorating, woodworking, travel, photography, or pets.
Chocolate Covered “Worms”
Foody projects provide plenty more elderly activities, especially easy ones with chocolate. Make chocolate worms, use edible flowers on cupcakes, make mouse crafts with food, or luscious gourmet s’mores.
Gentle Hand Massage
A hand massage using gentle reflexology that stimulates the whole system is a little gift that you can give to the elderly you care for. And it is really easy to do; experience not necessary. It’s given with a favorite lotion (men and women alike) or is perfect to also do with a manicure or salon activity.
Go on Fishing Party
We have lots more elderly activities – with parties. And many can be indoors or out, any time of year, including a fishing-themed extravaganza. So don’t let any weather stop you!
Recording Your Memoirs
Many own grown kids love that their grandfather digitally recorded their memoirs and making copies for everyone. They’re intrigued by his stories and perspectives through the wars, depression, post-war boom years, launching a career, raising a family back in the “olden days”! Especially back when adolescent young men were still “gentlemen.”
Making Easy Planters
When you grow gardens, consider another fun project by making and/or finding unusual planters. Use them as unique gifts and giveaways, show off heirloom and vintage items, plus see how to give them a handcrafted touch like an old boot from a family member as a planter.
Make a Simple Centerpiece
So many elderly activities can involve parties, get-togethers, public events, clubs, and the like, so making a nice centerpiece can be done a year. Great for giveaways, raffles, silent auctions, etc. Helping to make centerpieces can be a very fulfilling project. And they make excellent gifts.
Many elderly still love to learn. Learning-oriented elderly activities exercise the brain and keep brain activity healthy. Encourage seniors to watch worthwhile educational programs on TV and programs associated with their hobbies.
There are also lots of documentary films you can rent or stream to your TV.
Encourage seniors to try watching and learning new things. We also surf the internet with a large-screen TV as the monitor for the elderly. Seniors are becoming more and more computer savvy. As centenarian Maurice Eisman of Maryland said, “If I could leave any message, never stop learning. Period. That’s it.”
Discuss current events on TV and in the newspaper, but keep it light and on a positive note as much as possible (some seniors can be prone to depression, so heavy current events may not be appropriate).
Keeping up with what’s going on in the world helps seniors stay mentally involved. You can get other related elderly activities involved too. Ask for their opinions and how an issue differed x-amount of years ago.
Exercise is always good for the mind and memory, and are important elderly activities. One of Dad’s very favorites is easy yoga, done in his chair, keeping all his joints in good condition. He had no arthritis at all, even in his 90s. He chalked this up to exercise, especially joint movements of yoga. Even seniors who are not limber report that gentle yoga does a world of good for well-being, joints, and even mobility.
Have a Tropical Luau
Any time of year.Very fun during dreary weather. Many elderly folks have either traveled or lived in warm places, including the Polynesian Islands, and can share ideas. This one is sure to lift the spirits. You can make it simple or do an extravaganza, even a fundraiser, inviting the public. Perhaps with a raffle and/or silent auction following the theme.
To arrange a beautiful tropical luau at your home, go for this beautiful Hawaiian Tropical Party Decoration set. It includes 41 pieces; 12 pieces of tropical palm leaves, 24 pieces of Hawaiian cloth flowers, one piece of Hawaiian table skirt, and four pieces of Velcro. It will make your party look great.
Making and decorating these are fun and easy elderly activities, and easy to modify if some need help. We have lots of ways to decorate them. Learn to make colored kinds, too, as well as white.
For more elderly activities with flowers and plants, try this. (Also in the fresh air outdoors). Go out and pick fresh flowers from a field trip, a community garden, or a windowsill garden. Remove wilted petals and leaves. Try not to let flower parts overlap. Leaves should lay flat.
The Old-Fashioned Way
Choose a heavy book and line the inside pages with 2 or 3 sheets of paper to protect the book. (Paper towels can turn the whole thing turned to mush).
Carefully lay the flowers on the paper, and cover with another two sheets. After closing the book, stack another couple of books on top. Or you can also place the book in your microwave and “cook” it for 30 seconds. You’ll have to repeat it a few times, checking to see if the flowers are almost dried. Then let the book sit for at least another two weeks before opening.
The Easy Way
You can get a microwave flower press at a low price, depending on size. Just microwave it for 15 to 25 seconds! Flowers go from fluffy and thick to very thin, dry and flat, and keep some color. Very pretty and we think well worth the investment, for this type of project.
Dried flowers can be used in other elderly activities later on, during various seasons.
Pressed Flower Projects
Pressed flowers can then be used as gifts, including framing, maybe with a favorite saying, like potpourri, for decoupaging onto boxes, or pretty glass containers (great for candle holders), or right onto the outside of a pillar candle (attach them only about halfway up).
We know many girls who save their flowers from special occasions, from dances, graduation, weddings, etc. They’d LOVE to have a grandparent press them to keep as a souvenir or use another craft.
Having fun with photos can easily evolve into many more elderly activities. Go over old photos and talk about your elderly loved one’s past or your growing up. Encourage them to share. Have them help you get those photos in albums with them if they’re not already. You can make it into a lively ongoing scrapbooking project to do together or in a group.
Make your own personalized frame to go with a special photo, and give it as a gift.
Make Gourmet S’mores
Food is among the favorite elderly activities. There is something about s’mores that brings back fun memories of bonfires and fireplaces, activities with family and grandkids, and the good ‘ole days. But we’ve taken them a step further – the gourmet style. Why settle for “same old” when you can create something nostalgic yet spectacular.
Perhaps you can arrange to have a relative or friend visit regularly with their little one. Elderly people love to interact with babies. Then ask your loved one how things were done when they were raising their babies and what types of conveniences and inventions were popular at the time. If you are having an elderly family member or friend record their memoirs, these types of conversations can also be included.
Many elderly activities used to revolve around pets when someone was able to still have one. Arranging to have small, friendly pets visit is also a plus, especially for those who had pets and miss them. Studies have shown that just half an hour of pet visiting per week had a big effect on lessening feelings of loneliness. Encourage the elderly to talk about the pets they had. It may also be possible for seniors to accompany the pet on a walk on the grounds or yard, even in a wheelchair.
Reading can involve several more elderly activities, and reading aloud can be very special. Some seniors form reading groups and take turns reading aloud to the group. Others have regular times when they read to children. It’s especially wonderful for those who can’t see well enough to read on their own anymore, like Dad, to have someone read aloud to them.
If seniors are interested in a particular topic, get a book from the library on the topic, especially with pictures. If you’re reading to them, you can show and discuss the pictures. Encourage them to reminisce about their lives and what this topic means to them.
Older seniors also enjoy educational books geared for kids on these topics – the photos and illustrations are often much better, and the text more interesting!
Have kids read children’s books with a grandparent topic to elderly loved ones, or have the elderly read to them (especially their own grandchild). These are very relaxing activities that kids remember for a long time.
One of our favorite books is called “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney — about an elderly woman who sowed lupine flowers all over the hillsides by her town and created lasting beauty for generations to come. Another is “How Does It Feel To Be Old?” by Norma Farber — about a grandmother explaining aging to her grandchild. Also, “When I Was Young in the Mountains” by CynthiaRylant – about a grandfather who works in the coal mines. A fourth selection is “The Old Woman Who Named Things” by Cynthia Rylant – and not just her pets and car. There are many more, and a librarian or staff in the children’s section of a bookstore can help.
A great reason to go outdoors! And it’s fun for both men and women; plus, invite kids. Get inexpensive kites at a discount store or even a dollar store. Making and decorating easy kites from a kit are fun elderly activities and can be done in a group too. Kids love to get involved in this one!
You may want to limit the length of the kite string so it’s more manageable. Go outside to an area where there are not too many trees, and take turns flying the kites.
Wheelchair participants can also attach the kites to their chairs. Bring along lemonade and a snack, or even a full picnic lunch. If you’re inviting kids, they can help make it. Many of your members will have fun stories to tell about flying kites when they were young. So kites and conversation are elderly activities that are good for the memory.