Activities For The Elderly (Updated 2021)
Things To Do For The Elderly
If you’re looking for activities for the elderly that aren’t boring, then you’re in the right place! These lockdown activities can help with loneliness in the elderly. We’ve included a range of activities for older people, so there’s sure to be something whatever their interests.
We hope you find this list of things to do with your elderly parents useful.
And if your parent is watching more TV at the moment (because who isn’t?!) then you might be interested in our article on devices to help hear the TV more clearly.
Indoor Activities For Seniors
We’re all stuck indoors more nowadays, so we’ve come up with suggestions of things to do when bored. These interesting and unique activities for the elderly can help improve wellbeing and are suitable for people with mobility issues too.
Games For The Elderly
Board games and brain games are great activities for the elderly, keeping them entertained and to boost brain power. There’s a huge selection of games available – we’ve rounded up our favourite here.
Brain teasers for adults can help to improve memory recall. This brain training game called “I Should Have Known That” can be played solo, with a partner or even remotely over Zoom. Unlike traditional trivia games, you don’t receive points for answering questions correctly, but instead lose points for incorrect answers.
If you’re looking for more brain training games, these brain-crunching puzzles from The Times are great. Based on the popular puzzles that feature in the newspaper daily, each book has 500 brain exercises to improve memory.
The option below is word puzzles and conundrums but there are also logic problems and maths games in the series.
For free brain games, you could play “20 Questions” with your elderly parents. Take it in turns to think of a person and then ask questions to guess it within 20 questions. It requires lateral thinking – good luck!
Or if your older parents use a computer or tablet, this site is good for free brain games: Solitaire Paradise.
Jigsaw puzzles for the elderly are also a great idea as they come in all sizes and levels of difficulty. Large piece jigsaw puzzles are good for people with limited hand dexterity. We like this 500-piece puzzle from Amazon which features large pieces which are easy to pick up.
For an extra challenge, get your older parent a difficult jigsaw puzzle, such as this challenging 1000 piece puzzle.
Exercise And Older Adults
Looking for more inspiration for things for bored seniors to do? Senior fitness can help the elderly during lockdown, keeping them both physically and mentally fit and engaged. We’ve written a whole article on exercise and older adults, but we’ve also included some ideas here.
The first thing to remember is that when it comes to elderly exercise, anything is better than nothing. Just getting moving, however the body allows, is the main thing. If mobility allows, daily walking is great. This low intensity workout is weight bearing, and is great for senior fitness as it helps to develop muscle and bone strength (so can help prevent or reduce the onset of conditions such as osteoporosis).
Walking can be a bit boring – especially during lockdown when you might be limited to your own company. Motivate your parent to walk daily with these ideas.
Daily Walking Challenge
Having a goal when you leave the house (“I want to walk 2kms”) will mentally help your parent focus and complete their exercise. Setting goals may not be something they are familiar with, but if you commit to a daily walking challenge too, and speak with them about it, it will become more habitual.
If your parent has suffered a fall when out walking, then setting a goal is a great way to help them regain their confidence.
Step Monitor Watch
Motivate your mum and dad with a step monitor watch. There’s so many fitness tracker watch options but we rate the FitBit Charge 3. It’s not too complex, has larger digits than other models (so it’s easier to read), is slim line so won’t feel too obtrusive and comes in a variety of colours.
Strength and balance exercises are important for fall prevention. Encourage your older parents to work on their sit to stand exercise. For this and other important balance exercises, look at our article here (written by our physiotherapist Nancy).
Swimming has great benefits for the elderly. We’ve written about these webbed swimming gloves before – but we love them! They increase water resistance so can easily turn a gentle swim into more of a low intensity work out.
Escape Into A Book
Our older parents may find reading a book harder as they age, due to poor eyesight, lack of light in the room and decreasing mobility. But there are solutions available to help them continue reading.
Kindle For Elderly Parents
An e-reader such as this Kindle (the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite) is a great choice for our older book worms.
The screen has 300 pixels per inch which means it has clear and glare-free reading, even in sunlight. People with impaired vision can increase or decrease the font size. Its battery can last for a fortnight on a single charge and it is waterproof for up to two meters so can be read safely in the bath (if your parent likes to do that, we suggest a bath board!).
Best Reading Lamps For The Elderly
Poor eyesight can take the joy out of reading, but help is at hand with LED reading lamps. These low vision reading aids can relieve eye strain and headaches and daylight reading bulbs give the perfect light for concentration.
We like this floor standing LED reading lamp, great for improving reading for poor eyesight.
Book Holder For Arthritic Hands
Arthritis affects our joints and it can make the most ordinary of activities, such as reading a book, difficult. An arthritis aid such as a book stand or book holder for arthritic hands can make all the difference, taking the strain off hands and letting your elderly parent escape into their book. We like this adjustable and ergonomic option from Amazon.
Audio books and podcasts can help transport people away to a new place too. Great for anyone who has poor eyesight, the current proliferation of podcasts especially means that you should be able to find something to fit any genre and interest.
You can listen to a selection of Audible audiobooks for free each month on Alexa (find out other reasons why Alexa is so good for the elderly here). Or get your parent some headphones and an Audible subscription and they can listen to a good book on their daily walk!
Write Your Own Memoir
This is something my grandpa did (he self-published his autobiography in his 80s!) and it’s so beautiful to be able to pick it up and read a chapter of his life when I want. It captures all the things I never asked him.
As your parents get older, encourage them to reflect on their life and capture the memories by writing them down. It doesn’t have to be an all-singing autobiography, just key memories they want to share. These also provide great talking points for you all to discuss and learn about your shared history.
Even if they don’t think their life has been particularly interesting, there will always be engaging stories which will make you smile, and be something to treasure when they are no longer here.
This journal is designed to prompt your parents and help them collate their memories. With questions such as “what are your earliest memories growing up?”, it will help them put pen to paper if they don’t know where to start.
If your parent has limited hand strength and isn’t up for writing or typing, you could interview them. Record it on Zoom if it’s via video link, or wait til after lockdown for a special activity together and record it on your phone. And remind them, if they are writing it on their computer, to back it up! Not sure where to start when writing down memories? Read this useful article.
Pick Up Knitting
It’s not just about the cosy scarves and jumpers, there are so many health benefits of knitting which your parents can realise from the comfort of their sofa.
Once you work out what you’re doing (knit one, purl one etc) then the rhythmic repetitive movements become like a form of meditation. The knitter relaxes and it has been proven to alleviate anxiety.
Knitting has also been proven to stimulate almost all of the brain at once, with its need for co-ordination and fine motor skills, slowing cognitive decline and helping to prevent dementia.
Try this knit kit from the amazing sounding Needle It. It comes with everything needed to knit this stylish navy scarf.
Knitting with arthritis (in your thumb, fingers or hands) can be painful but it is possible. It all comes down to choosing the right knitting needles for the elderly.
Ergonomic knitting needles can make all the difference for this much-loved activity. Put down the heavy, cold metal knitting needles and pick up these comfortable needles with a polished wood surface. They have a laminated birch base that warms in the hand with use.
Knitting For Charity
Take these activities for the elderly to the next level and look into knitting for charity. From knitted squares, dolls and blankets for charity, there is sure to be an option near you which will make your parent feel good and give them something to do too. Find out more about knitting for charity here.
You might joke that chess is a game for the oldies, but this complex and intellectual card game requires strategic thinking and improves brain health. It has even been proven to delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Since The Queen’s Gambit aired on Netflix, searches for chess sets are up almost 300%. We like this beauty of a chess board. It’s handmade in the UK, and folds up so is easy to get out of the way when not being played. The pieces are a decent size (the King measures 6.4cm high for example) so are large enough to be picked up.
There are also chess computers out there – a good idea if your parent lives alone or their partner does not like chess! The computers play against you, and it’s a great way for chess beginners to improve.
Ancestry Research Websites
This is absolutely fascinating! Websites such as Find My Past let you discover your family’s past and join the dots of your history. A great activity for your parents to understand more about their family, ancestry research websites also provide a good source of conversation for you to discuss with together.
Home Movie Conversion
Bring back beautiful memories with this great activity for the elderly that requires minimal movement. If you still have a VHS tape player, your older parent can watch the video themselves without help.
If they don’t have one, or if you want to preserve the video (recommended), you can make a digital copy for them. Once saved onto your computer, this can be sent to them as a DVD or even a video file for them to watch on their computer.
Arts And Crafts For The Elderly
This can be a good activity for someone older with limited mobility. An easy arts and crafts idea is to go through old photos (a great activity in itself) and then use the favourite photos to make cards. They can write notes and send these cards to friends and family members.
Making jewellery is another great creative activity. It can be therapeutic, good for the soul and even potentially give your parents something to gift friends and family (or even sell!). Use beads from old necklaces and re-string them into new styles, combining different colours and designs.
We’ve got more arts and crafts ideas for the elderly in our article on how to be a great virtual grandparent.
Try Some Indoor Gardening
If you can’t go outside, bring the garden into the home! Gardening outside can be difficult with limited mobility, as it involves a lot of bending down.
Indoor gardening means you can comfortably grow plants and vegetables from your home, using a work surface that’s the right height for you (we recommend a table or shelf, or even a window box).
Having plants inside can cleanse the household air, improve the room’s appearance and make you feel happier.
Learning From Home
Distance learning is great, whether you want to study a completely new subject or become more knowledgable on a topic.
Learning modules can help to provide structure to the days, help your parents stay sharp and give them something new to get their teeth in to. There’s no limit to courses available to access from home, from more traditional subjects to creative writing. A great activity for the elderly!
Staying motivated and engaged can be hard, especially during lockdown, but we hope you’ve found some inspiration for new hobbies and activities for the elderly here.
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There’s lots of things to do when bored at home. From games for the elderly, ideas for gentle exercise to writing their memoirs. Find out more here.
As we get older, people are more likely to experience mobility challenges but there’s still lots of activities they can do. Making jewellery, playing games and puzzles and learning from home are just some of the ideas.
We understand, but there’s lots of interesting activities for the elderly that they try from the comfort of their sofa. Record them over Zoom speaking their life history, ask them to help out with a special school project or reading or try a biscuit taste test!