As summer starts to wind down, it’s a great time to start looking for new ways to help keep seniors busy. Staying active in mind and body is essential for our health and well-being. Oftentimes, the hardest part of getting started is taking the first step. But there are a variety of simple ways to keep seniors active, if you know where to start looking.
It’s no secret that seniors are at greater risk for depression. About half of all seniors report experiencing loneliness regularly. And suffering from isolation is a strong predictor of eventually needing home care because it contributes to a variety of health problems. Those who struggle with depression suffer far greater risk of mental and physical decline.
This is why many of the best ideas to keep seniors busy are those that allow for opportunities to socialize. A good place to begin looking for ideas to keep the elderly busy is within local event calendars. There are always new things going on around us: local community festivals, theater shows, performances, and so on.
A little planning is all it takes to give a loved one something they can look forward to. But you don’t have to wait for an event. Anyone near a city should have little trouble finding a variety of community organizations for seniors as well as a variety of clubs and senior-specific activities. People enjoy feeling like they can contribute to their community. And the community benefits in-turn.
Cooler weather can make it harder to stay physically active. But rain or shine, remaining active is important throughout your entire life. And finding senior friendly exercises isn’t challenging. Even seniors with mobility issues can find less strenuous armchair exercises. And there are exercises to accommodate those suffering from joint pain.
The CDC recommends 30 minutes of daily activity to reach doctor-recommended targets. Because exercise is something you need to do consistently, it’s best if you can enjoy the activity to some degree.
The diverse range of possibilities, from tai chi to swimming, can provide something for everyone. And many of these types of exercises are a great opportunity for social interaction, both with family and for meeting new people.
Staying mentally active is equally important, and the options are even more limitless. The right puzzle can make anyone curious. Board gaming provides great opportunities to socialize and exercise your mind at the same time. And there’s an almost endless list of card games to consider.
If you can ignore stereotypes about the elderly, video games provide another great opportunity for keeping seniors busy. Over the past decade, research has shown a variety of cognitive benefits for seniors who play certain types of video games.
Some video games have been shown to help prevent cognitive impairment and in some circumstances may even be used to help improve mobility after stroke. There are also noteworthy improvements to be gained in short-term memory, but the types of benefits received depends on the game played.
For instance, 3D gaming is better at engaging visual systems in the brain, while titles that are puzzle-oriented engage the memory. And anyone with an Internet connection has an opportunity to turn their gaming into socialization time with players from around the globe. You can even combine gaming and exercise with a variety of products like Wii Fit Plus. Whatever makes it fun!
Learning is a lifelong process. It’s also extremely healthy. Gray matter atrophies with age, but research shows that learning new things can counter those effects. That’s why one of the best things seniors can do for their health is to learn something new or engage in creative projects.
Every state has some type of program for seniors to enroll in college courses, often with little to no cost. For example, Oregon allows seniors over 65 to audit classes without tuition. Regional differences exist with respect to age limits, income limits, and time of year.
These programs provide excellent opportunities to engage with the community and learn something new. But even outside of the classroom, you can encourage seniors to pursue new hobbies in arts and crafts, writing, painting, and similar creative ventures.
Among all the numerous ways to keep seniors active, the right choice is typically whatever activities your loved ones find more engaging. Whether it’s swimming, tai chi, playing video games, or playing blackjack with a friend, staying active and social is what matters the most.