Elderly activities are not just for entertainment!
...Or just to keep busy. Or filling up the hours to avoid boredom. They are also for the healthy maintenance of the body, mind, and spirit which may seem to lag a bit from elderly issues that occur as we age.
We've got a great collection of activities. And more than for just keeping busy: crafts, exercise, hobbies, relaxation, mental fun, party ideas...
We know that taking care of our bodies involves our physical muscles. But we also have so-called “mental muscles.” The factors of the mind. Our mental muscles, too, need to be exercised – use it or lose it! What are these mental muscles? Reason, Imagination, and Memory are a few.
Our cells renew constantly, including our brain cells. Brain activity needs to be stimulated to keep our brains healthy and memories strong. Exercising our mental muscles with fun yet challenging elderly activities will help with this; great for nursing home activities too.
We have so many ideas they wouldn't all fit on this page. So we've broken them down, and continued them on other pages.
See our special pages on:
Elderly Games --Lots of variety for many occasions.
Easy Food Activities -- Always a favorite!
Crafts For The Elderly-- Easy to modify too.
Meaningful Dementia Activities -- For special needs.
Senior Activity Ideas -- Additional activity ideas for those with more mobility or a higher ability level. But many can be modified for as easier activities.
Do you like crafts?
Be sure to check out our Crafts book with FREE template book!
You could hunt around our web site and find various craft projects. But our crafts are all consolidated and
organized, along with dozens of NEW, never-seen-before projects for both
men and women, in our e-book! (And lots are fun to do with kids too).
You’ll get more than 120 projects, including loads of tips on different ways to do them. Things for various seasons and occasions. PLUS, bundled in is a FREE booklet with about 30 template and patterns to use for all kinds of things. Two books for one! –
“Easy Crafts and Gifts – For Little Money & Lots of Fun,” -- and
“Bonus Templates & Patterns.”
Click here for more information!
Do Activities Really Help?
A recent study conducted by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel discussed how important elderly activities are. And a long-held notion about the brain was nixed – that we were born with a certain amount of nerve cells in the brain, that they deteriorate and die, and they can’t be replaced. This has now apparently been disproved. The brain can indeed continue to renew itself, especially the hippocampus area that affects memory. This is helped with mental activity and memory exercise. The full process of how the brain does this is not entirely understood yet.
Besides activities strictly for fun and entertainment such as hobbies and crafts, there are three other important types of elderly activities to emphasize. All three will both strengthen and reduce stress brought on by aging. Stress isn’t just about feelings; it can physically harm the brain and memory, especially with an overproduction of cortisol, the “stress hormone.”
1) Exercise and physical activity. See Fun Exercises For The Elderly.
2) Healthy nutrition
3) Memory exercise in elderly activities.
This Elderly Activities page is especially for those who are more
limited; many are great nursing home activities too. Also see our Senior Activity Ideas for more ideas of interest to active seniors (they can be modified for those in wheelchairs too).
Conversation Strengthens Memory -- In a University of Michigan study, psychologist Oscar Ybarra at the U-Michigan Institute for Social Research tested a large group of people up to 96 years old. He found that just 10 minutes of conversation with a friend worked just as well as elderly activities involving brain games, like crossword puzzles to strengthen the memory.
"In our study, socializing was just as effective as more
traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual
performance," he said. So make sure the elderly in your life have
plenty of time to socialize. It not only will help with memory, but also
elderly issues of depression and loneliness as well.
Recording Your Memoirs -- My own grown kids love that their grandfather recorded his memoirs, and we put them on a CD for everyone. They're intrigued by his stories and perspectives through the wars, Depression, post-war boom years, launching a career, raising a family (with me being one of the kids) back in the "olden days"! Especially, my son remarks, back when adolescent young men were still "gentlemen." See our page on Senior Activity Ideas for more details.
Hobbies -- Hobbies are not just a way to pass the time, but offer something to get up and get excited about, look forward to. Depression can involve having no "goals" or the blahs from not having anything to anticipate. And it’s never too late to begin new elderly activities. Especially if a previous hobby is no longer do-able -- then people become a little more open minded about trying new elderly activities to challenge and entertain themselves.
We have an entire page to help, on Finding A Hobby. Help elderly loved ones choose an activity that may be somewhat related to their previous hobby, yet different enough to learn something new. Photography to painting; or painting to photography, for instance. Or photography to plant identification, or bird watching, or learning about other places. Or woodworking to painting on wood.
Modifying Hobbies -- If seniors are no longer able to do their favorite hobby in the usual way, find alternative ways to do it or to share it. Cooking for instance. New elderly activities could include helping them create a family recipe book, put it on computer, and create a small booklet for family and friends.
I wished that our family would have organized some of my mom’s wonderful recipes in booklet form. This actually can be a fun activity for elderly to do. Or watch the Food Network or Travel Channel with them on TV.
Ask them to discuss the recipes and what they think, and how they might enhance them. Or if they had ever cooked a similar recipe and what they did. Look over new cookbooks from the library with them, and then have them help you in small ways to prepare a new dish. And of course eat it! Read about foods from other countries, and their customs (some of them are pretty wild, to us!)
You can do the same type of elderly activities with any hobby, such as gardening, home decorating, woodworking, travel, photography, or pets.
Edible Windowsill Garden -- Even for those who weren’t into gardening, windowsill gardens are fun elderly activities to do as a family or individually. Very popular gardens are those you can eat – there is a tangible goal! Edible window gardens usually consist of herbs. The easiest to grow are dill, basil, cilantro, lavender (which you can also use to make a lavender pillow), parsley, mint, thyme, oregano, and chives. Use a potting mix rather than soil, which can carry disease. A sunny windowsill is best.
Many types of pots and containers can be used, including simple plastic trays, but they should be at least 6 inches deep. Also get fertilizer specifically for edible plants! Use it about once per month. You don’t need to water herbs very often; just keep the soil barely moist so roots don’t get soggy. Cut and use them often.
As with other plants, they become fuller as they are clipped. You can also grow strawberries, tomatoes and sunflowers on the window sill. But I suggest you see your garden center for specific instructions. There are also windowsill herb and edible plant kits available, and these make really easy elderly activities.
Gone Fishing Party – We have lots more elderly activities – with parties! And many of them can be held indoors or out, any time of year. Including a fishing-themed extravaganza (my daughter actually had one of these as a bridal shower and it was a blast). So don’t let any weather stop you. Get plenty of details on our party theme ideas page.
Chocolate Covered “Worms” – Fabulous food project provide plenty more elderly activities, especially easy ones with chocolate. Make chocolate worms, use edible flowers on cupcakes, make mouse crafts with food, or luscious gourmet s’mores. We have all kinds of ideas on our easy food activities page.
Make An Easy Angel -- Angels can be displayed and enjoyed any time of year. Not just Christmas -- think Easter, birthdays, christenings, memorials, and more. Or perhaps you have a very special "angel" in your family or group? We show a very simple feather angel here (which can be made with any color of craft feathers, to fit the season or occasion), and we also show how to make them into a gently fluttering mobile on our feather angel craft page. But not only that, we have another whole page full of lots of other craft angels to try. See them all!
Gentle Hand Massage -- A hand massage using gentle reflexology that stimulates the whole system is a little gift that you can give to the elderly you care for. And it is really easy to do; prior experience is not necessary. It's given with a favorite lotion (men and women alike), or is perfect to also do in conjunction with a manicure or salon type activity. See the handy hand reflexology chart we provide on this page to learn more about how reflex points work. My Dad loved hand massage.
Grow an Amaryllis -- An amaryllis bulb kit is very inexpensive, about $5.99. Although these kits are typically found in large discount stores like Target during the winter holidays, I’ve also found them in Walgreen's during the summer. Amaryllis plants make fabulous elderly activities. Are you familiar with the amaryllis? They are tall and stately flowers with spectacular large blooms, several to a stalk.
Colors are typically brilliant red, pink and white. And do they ever grow fast. The kit comes with a bulb in soil, it soon sprouts, and then you can literally wake up every morning and see the difference. They can grow sometimes a half an inch a day. It’s a fantastic project to watch, and lasts for about 6 weeks.
Dad gets a real kick out of growing an amaryllis. He likes to have me measure it each morning to see the difference. Follow the instructions to let it go
dormant, then coax it to bloom again. In fact, if you handle the bulb
correctly, it can last for years.
Make Art To Music -- Music can be very soothing, and so can doing art. So combine the two! Get out some paper (large sized is great), some colored chalk pastels, water colors, even crayons. Put on some calming music (it can still be a little peppy if you'd like) and have your group just do whatever they feel.
Tell them they can't go wrong -- this is about doing art with feeling, rather than trying to create a representational masterpiece. The music will create the feeling. I remember doing this in grade school to "Waltz of the Flowers" from the Nutcracker. Everyone one in the class loved it, even the kids who usually hated art.
Making Easy Planters -- And when you grow those gardens, consider another fun and easy project -- creative planter ideas. Making and/or finding unusual planters is an easy activity for all ages and abilities. Use them as unique gifts and give-aways, show off heirloom and vintage items, plus see our easy craft ideas of how to give them a hand crafted touch. We used an old boot from a family member as a planter.
Make A Simple Centerpiece -- Seniors can be involved in so many parties, activities, get-togethers, public events, clubs, and the like, that making a nice centerpiece can be a year-around activity. Plus they're great for give-aways, raffles, silent auctions, etc. Helping to make centerpieces can be a very fulfilling project. And they make great gifts.
We point you to the various projects all over our web site on our Make Fun and Affordable Centerpieces page. They're quite affordable because there are so many items you probably already have around that you can use. We show how.
Using templates and patterns -- For your arts and crafts and various elderly activities. I have drawn several templates and patterns for you, all copyright-free. (And lots more to come, so keep posted). Some are simpler, some fancier. But you can always modify them or use just parts of the pattern.
Use them to trace, to transfer onto paper or boards for painting, for posters and flyers, mobiles, greeting cards, coloring pages, for collage and cut-out projects. And much more.
Depending on ability level, they can also be used for faux quilts by
tracing the shapes onto fabric, then gluing onto a fabric background.
For lots more ideas for these patterns, start by looking at this page,
which will then link you to more pattern and template pages: Free Leaf Template and Pattern Ideas. And also Flower Templates.
Expanding Horizons -- Many elderly still love to learn. And they should – it exercises their brains and keeps brain activity healthy. Encourage them to watch worthwhile educational programs on TV and programs associated with their hobbies.
There are also lots of documentary films you can rent or stream to your TV. I narrate a huge variety of these to Dad; something several times a week. He particular loves anything to do with science, inventions and travel.
Encourage elderly to try watching and learning new things. (I joke with Dad that we could both have a Ph.d. in sciences by now from all the films we watch). They may also be interested in learning to surf the internet. Especially if you use a large-screen TV as the computer monitor, like we do. Seniors are becoming more and more computer savvy. As centenarian Maurice Eisman of Maryland said, “If I could leave any message, never stop learning. Period. That's it.”
...Continue to the next page for More Activities
Kindle Activities Book
If you need a comprehensive book with loads of activities, then we have the perfect Kindle book for you! (Kindle books can also be easily be read on your PC and other mobile devices. You don't need an actual Kindle.) This book contains lots of new ideas, as well as neatly organized activities from our web site -- so you don't have to search all over. It's sectioned into handy categories, such as General Activities, Activities for Men, Fun Food Activities, Holiday Activities, Outdoor Activities, Dementia Activities, and much more! Just go to our Kindle page at:
201 Fun! Senior Activities.
"Easy Crafts and Gifts"
(With a FREE bonus template book).
If you haven't yet checked out our comprehensive craft books, just follow this link and see how you can get two books for one! Loads of new projects - over 120. Plus and Free templates and patterns book.
Click here to get all the details
...Continue to the next page at More Elderly Activities
Also see our Activities
Share Forum at:
Share Your Elderly Activities Forum -- and read what our visitors have contributed. Lots of other fun ideas!