It can be a bit tricky to figure out recreational activities for the elderly. This is especially true when you or your loved ones have limited mobility. However, just because it can be hard to come up with ideas, that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. There are actually quite a few unique activities for seniors that don’t require a lot of moving around!
The key to figuring out the best activities is thinking about what an elderly person would enjoy doing if they had full use of their body. Then, consider what it is about this activity that they love. Do they love being outdoors? Do they enjoy using their mind to figure out difficult problems? Or do they perhaps like the activity mostly because of the people they would do it with?
After you narrow down what they would enjoy doing, and why exactly they would enjoy doing it, you can figure out an activity that will not only fit their abilities but also their preferences. The following is a great list to go through to help you decide what would be the best activity for them to do in this stage of life.
If someone enjoys activities that involve using their mind to figure things out, playing games is an excellent way to continue using that ability. It’s also great for competitive elderly people who enjoy a good challenge!
There are all sorts of elderly games and activities out there to enjoy. Which ones you choose will depend largely on the group of people playing. If it’s just one person, you might consider getting games that can be played through the internet, so the player has someone they are competing against (whether that’s a computer or even another person playing them through their own computer).
If you have a large group, it could be a great time to learn some card games. It might be easiest to start with games that use a normal deck of cards. This way you can play the games anytime, anywhere -- at least as long as you have a deck or two handy! Buying a few decks of cards isn’t expensive, and they can give you an endless amount of games.
If you’re looking for ideas for activities for seniors in nursing homes, you may want to consider seeing if you can establish a specific time each week (or even each day) where the residents in the nursing home can get together and play games. Setting a regular meeting time will not only help them learn and remember the games more easily, but it will also give them something to look forward to and a way for them to spend a fun time with friends.
Reading books is another great way to engage the mind and spend an enjoyable couple of hours. It’s especially nice because you can read anywhere. Whether you’re looking for indoor activities for seniors, or a way for an elderly person to spend some time outdoors, you don’t even need a table (like you would for playing games). All that’s required is a book and a comfortable place to sit.
If the elderly person has trouble reading, they may enjoy listening to audiobooks instead. There are a huge amount of books that have been recorded and are readily available online. You can often download and listen to them for free from library websites, but you can also purchase them from Audible or similar sources.
Reading books is also a fun way to connect with people. You can form reading groups with some friends who live together in an assisted living area, or you can even form a reading group with people who don’t live near each other. For example, if you talk with your elderly parent every week but don’t live close to them, you could both start reading the same book on your own and then discuss it on your weekly call. This not only gives your elderly parent something to do while you’re away, it also gives you both something interesting and new to talk about. You might even learn something through your reading!
Even if someone is elderly and limited in their ability to move about, they can still travel. You just have to do a bit of extra planning ahead of time to make sure it’s a place where you can easily get around, particularly if the elderly person is in a wheelchair.
One really easy way to travel is to go to an all-inclusive resort that is wheelchair accessible. That way, all you need to do is pack and go, as the food and entertainment is included and easy to access. Just be sure to confirm that the room and bathroom are accessible and will meet your needs beforehand.
All inclusives can be a fun idea for a holiday! Have the whole family travel to a resort and spend the week together. I know of quite a few elderly (and not so elderly) people who would love that!
If it’s difficult for you or your elderly parent to go out, or if you just prefer being home, watching a movie or starting a new TV series could be a fun thing to do. Since we have Netflix and other companies that bring movies and shows straight inside your home, you really don’t need to go anywhere to watch something!
To make it even more interesting, you could switch it up by watching something totally different than you would usually choose. For example, if you always watch movies, think about trying out a competitive TV show like the Great British Baking Show.
Watching that type of show is not only entertaining, but it also teaches you interesting things about baking and the stories behind different baked goods. Even people who never set foot in the kitchen love the show! Whether you want to try that one or not, mixing it up and watching something new could be a fun way to spend an evening now and then.
Some people love the process of hunting for that special item -- whether it’s a new outfit for them or a present for a close friend. Just because someone grows older and is no longer able to get around as easily doesn’t mean they stop enjoying the shopping process.
One idea is to go to a mall. Most malls are quite accessible, with elevators, accessible bathrooms, various places to sit down, and little to no steps. It’s an awesome place to go since it gives you a huge number of shops to visit without having to research each store to be sure it is accessible. Before you go, make sure to check that the mall you’re making a trip to is accessible enough for your needs. It could be a fun idea to make a day of it by eating a meal there and shopping at all your favorite stores.
If you or your elderly friend isn’t up to going out to a mall, another idea is to do some online shopping. Although it’s not quite the same as going out, it still gives you the enjoyment of searching for just the right item at just the right price. You might even be able to find some coupons while you’re searching!
Sometimes being home all the time and thinking about your situation can be a bit discouraging. If you or your elderly loved one wants something else to focus on, consider getting involved in a charitable cause.
There are quite a few options you can do right from your own home! You could crochet or knit blankets for people in need, support children overseas and write them notes, or send shoe boxes with Christmas presents with Operation Christmas Child (this could involve shopping as well!).
If you aren’t sure where to start, consider contacting a local church and asking them if they have a charitable organization or know of one that might need some help.
If you enjoy making things beautiful, an artistic pursuit could be an excellent way to spend your time! This is one of those unique activities for seniors that differs from person to person. Everyone has their own talents and enjoys different things, so take a little time to figure out what would be the best fit for you or your elderly family member.
It could be fun to learn to paint, cross-stitch, whittle, or even play a musical instrument. Just because someone is getting up in years doesn’t mean they can’t learn something new!
This could be another way to do charitable deeds as well. As you learn to do different hobbies, you could donate some of your work to people who could use some beauty and encouragement in their life. When I was younger, I knew an older lady who would crochet hats for all the children she knew. All my friends and I had our own warm winter hats thanks to her kindness. She loved to do it, and we all loved her for it!
There are a lot of activities you can do, regardless of whether you’re young and active, or older with a limited amount of mobility. Don’t think that just because you’re up in years you can’t have fun anymore. There are so many things you can do to fill your time and enjoy this season of life.
One awesome thing I’ve seen is that more and more is being done to make life easier for those with limited mobility. This can be a huge help as you look for different activities to fill your time! For example, some wheelchairs are made specifically for adventurous lifestyles. They allow you to travel and go outdoors more safely and easily than if you were to go in a regular wheelchair or walker.
There are also quite a few gadgets and apps that can improve your quality of life. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this article that dives into the top mobility and accessibility trends you need to know.
You don’t have to worry about getting bored or running out of things to do. There are all sorts of things available to help you enjoy the activities you would enjoy if you could get around more easily. Life might be a lot different than it used to be, but it can still be just as fulfilling and fun. The only question you need to ask yourself now is, what would you like to do first?
Cory Lee is a wheelchair user, travel addict, and accessible travel writer. On his blog, Curb Free with Cory Lee, he hopes to inspire others to roll out of their comfort zones and see all the beauty our world has to offer.