By Susan Ashby
When looking for activities for seniors, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. The first is whether this is an activity that you want to do with them, or you are looking for something they can do when you’re not there. If you are providing in-home care, you may be looking for both types of activities.
Before introducing a new activity, make a realistic evaluation of your senior’s abilities.
The activity you choose to introduce should have a chance of success, so don’t overlook one of these obstacles.
At the same time, don’t eliminate something you think your senior would enjoy because one step in the project will be too difficult for them. Could you modify the process and complete that part for them? Keep the activity age appropriate. It can be very tempting to purchase a craft project kit designed for children because you know it is within your senior’s ability level. Use yourself as a guide. Would you want to wear or display this project if you made it?
Of course, you might need some inspiration, and that’s why we’re here. Check out these 5 options for activities for seniors.
Walking is a great way to spend time with your senior. It gets you both out of the house while providing fresh air and exercise. It doesn’t matter if your senior is capable of hiking on a rough trail or they are confined to a wheelchair, it is still going for a walk.
Walking in the neighborhood that the senior resides in can help them stay in touch with their local area and their neighbors. This is especially true in the spring and fall when most people are out in their yards planting flowers or mowing the lawn and completing yard maintenance. Taking the opportunity to stop and say a few words can keep them connected.
Consider varying your walk by going to remote locations. Drive to a local market and walk the paths through the shops. You could also travel to a park. Parks usually have the majority of the paths paved, so they will be a safe surface for your senior to walk on, and they are wheelchair-friendly as well. If Mom loves flowers, take her to the botanical gardens at least once a month, as different flowers bloom at different times. Go to a lake and walk the shoreline.
Is the weather not cooperating or is the mosquito population intolerable? Walk in the mall or grocery store, or how about walking in a museum? Some tracks are open to the public on specific days. It could be fun to walk and relive memories for the elderly former track star. Hint: Wear good walking shoes and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Swimming is a great exercise as well as a fun way to cool off on a hot summer day. Go to your favorite lake and just stick your feet in the water, or go all the way in and swim, or anything in between. If the lake isn’t your thing anymore, check out the pools in your area. Many public pools are now built with an entrance that can even be wheelchair accessible.
Some facilities have therapeutic pools with water temperatures kept a little warmer than the usual. These are especially great if your senior has arthritis. Check out the YMCA for water exercise classes that you both can attend. Open swimming is often offered at high school pools, as well as the public outdoor pools.
What better way to spend a rainy afternoon than at the movies? Most theaters offer a significant senior discount on a specific day each week. This gives the senior and their local senior caregiver the opportunity to view first-run movies at an affordable price.
Some movie theaters show classic movies on the big screen. It is so fun to see movies like The Wizard of Oz or Gone With the Wind in the theater again. If it’s not possible to go to the movie theater, recreate the experience at home. Pull the shades, pop the popcorn, and pour the soda. Find out what kind of candy the person you provide in-home care for enjoyed eating at the movies and have it ready for movie day. Have a theme and get several movies in that genre: westerns, spy thrillers, comedies, romances, or movies with intrigue are all good categories, and the possibilities are endless.
You could also pick a theme based on the actor or actress who starred in the movie, like Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, Doris Day, or Vincent Price.
You don’t have to go to a professional performance to enjoy music. However, there are numerous music festivals held throughout the year, and there is sure to be at least one in your community. This is a very inexpensive, and sometimes free, way to hear great music.
Also, don’t neglect your local high school performances. Most schools put on band concerts and chorus performances, and many also have an annual musical. These are open to the public and are free or charge a very small fee.
5. Senior Center
Take advantage of the local senior center. They have all sorts of activities available, from playing cards to billiards, cooking, and crafts. In addition, some organize bus trips to local attractions or events. If you are providing in-home care, helping your senior to access the local senior center will give them some time to be with their own peer group. They may meet someone they went to school with or knew from the past.
There are so many things to do with the senior and the local senior caregiver. Take a class and learn something new, or pack a lunch and have an adventure. Revisit childhood fun and go to the zoo or a ball game. Have fun!
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