By Alison Wood, Contributing Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many seniors to spend much longer periods of time at home, and this can lead to feelings of boredom and isolation. It can be helpful, therefore, for seniors to be introduced to new activities that can help pass the time in an enjoyable way.
An important thing to consider, though, is that individuals will have different levels of both mental and physical ability. They will also have different interests and be drawn to varying types of activity.
To address this, we’ve come up with the following list of varied home activities for seniors — which offers plenty to choose from!
Young and old alike enjoy the challenge of a jigsaw puzzle. It’s a very absorbing and calming activity that can make hours whizz by in what seems like only minutes. Jigsaw puzzles cater to people of all abilities and can range from just a few puzzle pieces to more than 1,000!
Sudoku, crosswords, and word searches
Sudoku, crosswords, and word searches are all mental puzzles, rather than physical. Like jigsaw puzzles, these also can be enjoyed by seniors with various capabilities, as these puzzles range in complexity from a simple word search to a cryptic crossword. For seniors with visual problems, large-print puzzles are available. Check out this website for a great free collection of large-print puzzles that you can share with a senior loved one!
It’s also vital to let people choose what they personally enjoy. While some might struggle with a simple Sudoku puzzle at the best of times, for example, others might love doing such puzzles — even after a dementia diagnosis. So don’t be presumptuous, and instead allow the senior to decide and dictate which puzzles would be best for him or her.
If you have a yard, birdwatching can be a very interesting activity for people of all ages, including seniors. There are plenty of websites and books that can help the senior identify species. But to get started, all he or she will need are simple binoculars. To take the birdwatching further, set up a birdfeeder and/or birdbath to encourage a wider variety of birds to show up.
Arts and crafts
There are so many arts and crafts available that, yet again, it’s important to see what might be of interest to the senior. A senior might want to return to a craft he or she enjoyed as a child, or it’s possible that the senior will want to try something new. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials and online classes available to introduce seniors to the basic techniques of many arts and crafts. This website has a great bank of fresh ideas for seniors to try. And you’ll also want to CLICK HERE to check out our article regarding five crafts that help seniors keep their hands busy and their minds alert.
Board games or cards
If more than one person is living with the senior, encourage games as a way to get everyone involved! Games of all types can be a fun way to spend an afternoon at home. Maybe Grandad could teach his granddaughter how to play chess. Maybe a married couple would be up for a challenging game of Scrabble. Card games are also easy to play, and there are large-print card decks available to assist seniors with reduced vision.
Reading and listening
Reading can transport us to another world. As such, it’s the perfect antidote to the isolation of COVID-19 and the need to shelter in place. If seniors have visual impairments, large-print physical books might be a solution. The text size on most e-readers can also be increased.
Listening to someone read is also an option, particularly for the vision impaired. Audiobooks are a great alternative, and they have the added benefit of being very relaxing for the listener. Plus, there is a whole world of podcasts and programs out there to be heard, via iTunes, Spotify, Alexa, and other online providers.
While gardening might be too physical for some older adults, many seniors can and do enjoy growing herbs, flowers, or even salad vegetables in containers, pots, and/or window boxes. It’s not expensive to get started: Plants can be grown from seed, and often friends and family members can donate pots and containers that they no longer need for the senior’s use. Sometimes, there can be an exciting challenge is in growing things in unexpected items, such as an old watering can or a kitchen mixing bowl. Be experimental and have fun with what the plants that are grown and raised.
To help with balance, mobility, and strength, it can be helpful for seniors to spend a little time each day exercising. This could be as simple as a walk in your yard or a stroll around the block — which in return is a helpful way for seniors to get safely out of the house. Exercise might also be some simple strength-training exercises, done right in one’s own home, with objects you can find around the house — a can of soup or a bottle full of water, for example.
If you are looking for some exercise ideas, these 10 fall-prevention exercises are a great place to start!
Finding a new activity sometimes takes a little patience and the willingness to try new things. However, the good news is that if one finds something enjoyable to do, that activity can continue for long after this pandemic is over.