We've got lots of ideas here for all abilities...
Senior activity ideas and the ability to participate vary greatly, so we've provided loads of possibilities on our web site.
This particular page includes activities for seniors with a higher participation level, but can certainly be modified. (We'll also point you to our other pages for those who are elderly and a bit more limited). Whether crafts, food, relaxation, games, mind activities, party ideas, there's bound to be something here for you!
So also do visit our page about Elderly Activities
for those who may have special limitations. And feel free to change anything on this page too, to suit your needs. Many of these are also great to do with kids!
For those who cannot move around much, there is endless entertainment to be found in the world of movies and television shows. Though we shouldn't rely on television for all of our entertainment, it certainly helps fill in the hours between crafts and light exercise, especially for those who tire easily. If you are working on a tight budget, there are Direct TV deals you can look into, and you can hunt for DVDs at a local thrift store, or borrow them from the library.
See Our Craft Section
We do have a special section for crafts (its button is on our Menu Bar). Crafts are excellent senior activity ideas. Some of the crafts are highlighted below. But if you want lots more ideas, go to these areas:
Crafts For The Elderly -- Finding easy yet satisfying crafts for the elderly can be challenging, especially for those who may have limited ability levels or elderly issues that cause restrictions. We have lots of ideas for you here.
Easy Craft Ideas -- This is our "craft central" area that will point you to specific individual crafts, and is organized into categories. It's always growing, so check back often!
Share Your Crafts (forum) -- This is a Share forum where our visitors submit their favorite crafts and senior activity ideas for you to check out, often with a fun photo. You can share too, and please do! Our readers will love you for it, and you can showcase yourself. We'll also provide a link to your web site (if you have one) Just let us know what it is when you submit. We'll make it "go live."
Senior Activity Ideas
...To do on your own or with friends. And try sharing some of these senior activity ideas with a grandchild – kids love to do projects with their loved ones.
Collages -- You’re probably aware that scrapbooking is one of the most popular senior activity ideas. Scrapbooking can be a type of collage. Collage can be an art in itself, and using a design template can create a really striking layout. But there are many other types of fun collages besides scrapbooking. They can be created on thick poster board, small art canvases and masonite board.
We have 12 free templates to help your designs get started – dividing your collage area into a pleasing layout is the first very important step. After that you can let your imagination go wild, whether using photos, tissue paper, fabric scraps to make a faux quilt look, or leftover wrapping paper. And if you don’t have any ideas – we sure do! If you make your collage on a nice board or canvas, it will make a beautiful gift or art piece for your own home. Making collages and kind kind of art work or gifts for others are great senior activity ideas.
More arts and craft templates -- When you're working on new senior activity ideas, sometimes it's nice to have a quick template or pattern (maybe you feel you're not very good a drawing). These flower templates and designs will come in handy for all sorts of uses, whether for wood projects, glass etching, faux stained glass, decoupage, collages, painting on many kinds of surfaces, greeting cards, flyers and posters. of course you can modify them, simplify them, or add a few together for a fancier arrangement.
Some folks have even used templates to make their own
puzzles to give as gifts. To instantly enhance your flower shapes with a
pattern or texture, you can trace them onto tissue paper, leftover
wrapping paper, fabric, or onto magazine pictures (fun to use for making
collages). Also great for traditional colored paper, or a small canvas
board or watercolor paper to paint. Try combining these designs with our
leaf template patterns. These are just some concepts for your senior activity ideas. It's all up to your imagination!
Coloring Activities -- There are many interesting color-with-marker kits available with designs and pictures that are more complex for adults. Many are made on a fabric including a nice velvet, and frameable when finished. They can be found online or at your craft store. Some elderly do prefer the simpler designs too. Coloring is also a good project for memory care patients.
Bread Making -- Other senior activity ideas involve baking -- like homemade bread. The really easy way. Automatic bread makers process everything just like Grandma -- they mix, knead and bake. Except you can walk away from it and come back later. They are pre-programmable, and many have automatic shut-off safety features. Models cost between $40 and $200. Time can range from 1.5 to 4 hours, so you can do another project while it's bakin'! Great aroma, with many ways to flavor and enhance the bread. Plus, you can use whole grains to get that fiber and nutrition everyone needs. Homemade saves money too. And did I say aroma?
Make Your Own Dried Fruits -- For this activity, you'll need a food dehydrator with several trays. It's really easy to do. Simply choose your fruits, slice them according to instructions, and then place them in the machine. The drying process takes several days, and the results are fabulous. If you're doing it in a group, members can help slice the food (if able), sort them and place them in the machine. At the end, just take them out, and everyone gets to share and take some home. Or keep them for future parties and activities. Machines include easy instructions.
Make Gourmet S'mores! -- This is a delicious activity for all ages and ability levels. Did you know marshmallows come in all sorts of unusual flavors? Some you'd hardly believe. And of course chocolates do too. Plus, chocolate chips (a.k.a. baking chips) are far beyond the standard dark, white, butterscotch and milk chocolate. There are spectacular gourmet flavors for those as well. And you don't need a bonfire or grill (although that's ideal of course) -- we have lots of ideas and microwaving tips. Take a peek at How To Make Smores - The Gourmet Way.
Making Healthy Snacks -- Everyone loves snacking (and lots of times it's not very healthy!) Senior activity ideas with making food are really popular -- and we have some highly nutritious ideas and recipes to make (also ideas on snacks to just have around) on our elderly nutrition snacks page. They're really easy and are fun to do, either individually or in a group -- then eat! Combine making snacks with other senior activity ideas, such as having a little party, or playing a game, afterwards. For recipes that are a little more advanced (but still easy) see our page for Healthy Snack Recipes.
Making Homemade Ice Cream -- Who doesn't love ice cream. Even those with sugar restrictions are in luck. We make ours with honey, or you could use Splenda or stevia to sweeten. Nowadays making ice cream is very easy, because there are excellent gadgets out there. Great ice cream can even make a healthy dessert - it all depends on the recipe. We have some excellent, natural ones here.
But if you don't want to make
it yourself, get ideas on how to enhance already-made, plain ice cream.
Then plan more senior activity ideas -- have a fabulous party, or go all
out and have an old-fashioned ice cream social. Remember those? You can
get as elaborate as you want, using nice paper goods, or your best
dishes. And if you need some good homemade ice cream recipes, go here: How To Make Ice Cream - The Easy Way. One of our favorite senior activity ideas for both men and women.
Spa Afternoon -- A Spa Afternoon for yourself or a group is always popular. Begin with relaxing music. A real plus is stringing small twinkling lights. And a little aromatherapy. Lavender helps calm and relax. Other favorites are rose, lemon and vanilla. Light some scented candles. Give an arm and hand massage with scented lotion. A scalp massage is also wonderful. How about a foot soak in warm, scented water, followed by a foot massage. And then a mini pedicure, complete with toenail polish for the ladies. (And yes, men enjoy Spa Afternoons too!).
Also take a look at our handy hand reflexology chart, and try your hand at giving a gentle hand massage. It's very easy and effective! Perfect for spa activities.
Lavender Flax Seed Pillow -- These pillows are wonderful senior activity ideas that can even go along with your spa afternoon. We have an easy project for making a lavender pillow that can be warmed up in the microwave or cooled in the freezer. Lavender is wonderful for those who have elderly issues involving warmth, relaxation or sleep. Makes a nice gift too. This project can also be done with grandkids.
Make A Gift Basket -- It’s easy to make a gift basket, and they make very satisfying senior activity ideas. These can be done in groups such as for silent auctions, fund raising, door prizes, or a group gift (perhaps a birthday, anniversary, holiday, sympathy, etc.), or also made individually. Our easy, imaginative ideas will make it simple.
In the photo on the right, we included a cottage teapot, mug, and lots of tea, coffee, and chocolate items for a Coffee and Tea theme. You can get many donated items if your baskets are for a fund raiser; or have others bring in items from home. Perfect for tucking in a keepsake. There are so many possibilities, whether making money or helping others. Be sure to check it out at Easy Make A Gift Basket Ideas.
Make an Angel -- This is just one of our many ideas. Angels are so popular and our projects have loads of uses. We’ve got lots of craft angels for you to make! All kinds, from glass centerpieces, to bells, to foil, to wood, to old-fashioned cornhusk dolls! These senior activity ideas are all easy and include projects for various ability levels of the elderly as well. You can make a really satisfying project with many items you may already have around. See our page at Fun and Fabulous Craft Angels.
Knit or Crochet a Prayer Shawl -- Having knitting and crocheting groups are extremely meaningful senior activity ideas, and they can have a special purpose. Many groups use some of their time to create special shawls for those who are ill or grieving. Prayers are said while the needle work is done. Sometimes the group knows who they are making it for, and sometimes they do not -- it is given by a coordinator to those in need at various times. A small card can be prepared for the recipient explaining the gift and its meaning. Both my father and I received one of these and we cherish and use them all the time.
Make A Fleece Blanket -- Making fleece blankets the very easy no-sew way, is a great gift activity for any season, holiday, or occasion. And for special projects for others, including charitable giving. This is a perfect project to do either in a group or individually. Get some new ideas and tips, if you've done it before. Kids love this one too. See more at Making Fleece Blankets.
Quilting Bee -- Even if you don't know how to quilt (yet), you can learn to make a wonderful project. Most likely there is someone in your family or group that knows how and who can teach you. Or perhaps a local craft or fabric store. Quilting bees, as you know, date back for hundreds of years and provide a wonderful means to socialize and, again, create a meaningful gift. Or something to raffle or auction off for fund raising.
Regular "Giving Back" drives -- If you work with a group or want to start one with a purpose, projects giving back to the community (large or small) on a regular basis make great senior activity ideas. Whether collecting items for disaster victims, Thanksgiving or other holiday baskets; coat, hat and mitten drives; sending a child to camp; helping with a scholarship fund; collecting back-to-school kits; assisting a special needs group; or helping the needy, there are loads of ideas to choose from. Even those with elderly issues that may limit participation in other activities can have ways to be included in reaching outside of oneself and helping others. It's always good to have a way to get our attention off ourselves and into something worthwhile.
Tap Dancing Group -- Yup. Did you know tap dance groups are really popular senior activity ideas? And it's fabulous exercise. In my father's previous retirement community in Arizona, the senior tap dance group became so well-known that they even went on a performance trip to Europe, complete with fabulous costumes! But dance can really just be simplified to stress the fun. Performances are only optional (although it's really fun to dress up in the costumes!) There may be someone in or associated with your group who already knows basic tap steps and is willing to share. Or contact a local dance school and arrange for special classes (they may already have some) or to visit your facility weekly. Senior discounts are almost always available. You may also be able to enroll them in volunteer time.
Wine and Chocolate Party -- Parties are always really fun senior activity ideas. And for this one, you can create your own chocolate concoctions in advance, and share them at the party pot-luck style. Popular items are chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate mousse, decadent brownies, fudge (including white chocolate), and chocolate-cherry cake. Have everyone bring a favorite recipe and swap! Don't forget some sugar-free items as well. Offer at least 5 or 6 chocolate deserts, and a couple white and red wines. Get out the best tablecloths and fancy napkins, and the best wine glasses, dishes and platters. Candles always add ambiance. You may find that a local liquor store or winery is willing to come out and present their varieties. This was one of the most popular and well-attended events at a local senior complex.
Champagne and Dessert Party -- Another of the most popular senior activity ideas, that you can also invite the public to if you are doing this as a group. Go beyond chocolates -- if you have a local bakery they will probably be delighted to participate as a sponsor, and may even donate free items. Be sure to also include some sugar-free treats for those with elderly issues needing dietary restrictions. Also include non-alcoholic sparkling wines. Consider making some gift bags as door prizes (helps generate interest with the public as well). This is excellent if you'd like an idea to have others come in and visit your group or facility.
Edible Flowers -- See our easy edible flower recipes for creating lots of new activities, learning experiences, and fun things to eat! Perfect to use in special food projects and events. Or use them in your own favorite recipes. Learn how to make sugared flowers and petals, and how to freeze flowers and petals in ice cubes; plus much more. Edible flowers add elegance to any event. See Edible Flower Recipes and Activities.
Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries -- This is one of the favorite activities at a local senior campus. They can be prepared for the wine and chocolate party mentioned above, for other get-togethers, or to give as gifts (people love these!). We have, in fact, a special page just on how to make these, and the projects can be adjusted to ability levels, making excellent senior activity ideas. Plus, we've added in some really fun ways to decorate them (think in terms of a variety of holidays and seasons as well). See our special page on how to Make Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
Apple Candle Craft -- Apples are around all year round.
Besides making very yummy snacks and treats, you can also make some
really fun and easy apple craft ideas. This one is a candle. Stretch
your imagination for variations on this apple candle activity, and how
it could also be used in conjunction with special (perhaps heirloom)
mugs, glasses, candle holders, tea cups or tea pots, to create a
keepsake gift for that certain someone. Make them for centerpieces and
parties too. Or just for your own ambiance. Click at this link to get
details and project ideas: Really Easy Apple Craft Ideas. You can also find out how to make an old-fashioned Granny Apple Doll, or a spicy, aromatic apple wreath.
Fiesta Party! -- Also check our Fiesta Party Ideas for recipes, and activities to put on a fiesta party. Includes simple and inexpensive craft projects. AND...We've got a fantastic Mexican chicken chocolate sauce (mole) recipe -- if you've never tried it (or even heard of it?) you've just got to check it out.
Fishing Themed Party -- We also have a Fish Party Activities page. You can throw a themed party along with a fishing outing, or even without actual fishing -- just enjoy the fish recipes (several fun food ideas) and projects to make for the party.
Tell A Group Story -- Have the group cut words and phrases from magazines ahead of time. Or simply write them out on pieces of paper. Have at least 50. They should include both verbs and nouns -- get some unusual ones! Put them all in a bowl. Players sit in a circle and each player draws a word. The leader then begins to tell a story such as, "One dark, stormy night when the waves were lashing against the rocky shore, a mysterious ship..." The next person takes their word and continues the story with it. After about 2 or 3 sentences, they stop and the next person continues. The story is done when all the words are used up. Try recording it, then play it back later when everyone is having a snack. Loads of fun and laughter!
Rug hooking -- This is one of my favorite senior activity ideas, because it can have special meaning. My children’s great-grandfather was in his 90s and living in cold northern Iowa when he discovered rug hooking. During the long winters he loved to get a kit from a craft story and create a keepsake rug wall hanging for each great-grandchild.
He passed on more than 15 years ago, and they will always have that memento. They were bright, colorful and fun for him to do too, giving his hands good exercise which helped his arthritis, a common elderly issue. He chose a theme for each great-grandchild that was special to their interests, like pets, boating, and nature. This is a great senior citizen activity with a gift that can be handed down for generations.
Homemade marzipan creations -- Here's one of the fun and yummy senior activity ideas. Marzipan is a sweet, edible play dough-like substance often used to build little figures and flowers on gingerbread houses and cakes. It’s molded much like play dough and is great fun to use and easy to make. Depending on the skill level, marzipan concoctions can be quite ornate.
Use them for parties and gifts. You can even make a marzipan box and lid with a marzipan flower or bird on top. And what do you put inside? More sweets, of course! Or if you create a really good piece, display it in a plastic display box that can be purchased at a craft store. Keep it in your kitchen or hutch. See our recipe and instructions to make marzipan.
Recording memoirs -- Another of the meaningful senior activity ideas. When my father was in his 90s we bought him a small digital tape recorder to tape his memoirs for us. Even though he was partially blind, it was very easy to use. He could pause at any time to re-group his thoughts. He started at the earliest age he could remember, and took it one or two years at a time, mentioning as much colorful detail as he could remember. We then downloaded the material into the computer. Each segment is a “file” that can be moved around on the computer screen if you want to insert that segment into a different chronological order.
Later, we thought of all sorts of things to ask him about, and he continued to tape. These segments were out of chronological order, of course. But it was very easy to move them around on the computer screen to get them in the correct order with the previous files. After being organized on the computer, the project was transferred onto a CD that could be played in a standard CD player. Everyone in the family now has this journey down memory lane right from our father. This is one of our favorite senior activity ideas.
Crafts and Keepsakes -- Do you have an heirloom or keepsake you plan to give away? Perhaps a teacup, dish, plate or picture frame? Make a fun craft to go with it, to make it doubly special. Chocolate crafts and crafts with candies are always popular. One idea is our Mouse In A Teacup. Very easy to make, and the mouse doubles as an ornament too. This is one of many ideas in our page on Mini Mouse Crafts – Amusing and Easy.
Cookie cutter mini-pancakes -- Some senior activity ideas
are especially fun to do with grandkids, family or friends. You need a
pancake griddle and metal cookie cutters to pour the batter into, such
as stars, flowers, bunnies, bells, Mickey Mouse shapes, etc. Keep the
cookie cutter around the batter until the shape sets. When done, they
can be decorated with raisins, apple slices, coconut, candies, nuts,
even whipped cream. Great for a brunch too.
Glamour manicure party -- Senior activity ideas can include a bit of glam! Get together a group for a little glamour and pampering. If someone has difficulty doing their own nails, an assistant can be present to help. Have everyone bring their favorite nail polish color to share. Begin by filing and shaping the nails, applying a cuticle softening for 5 minutes, and pushing back the cuticles with an orange stick.
Care should be taken if clipping excess cuticle or hangnails. Then apply 2 coats of polish. When the second coat is still wet, try impressing a very small rhinestone on a chosen nail, such as the pointer fingers. It can then be covered with two coats of top coat. The most fun is having someone who is very good at painting. With a very small brush and acrylic paints, tiny images such as hearts, leaves, curly-cues, or flowers can be painted on given nails, after the second coat is dry. When the acrylic paint is dry, two coats of top coat are applied.
Armchair Theater -- This takes the book club senior activity ideas one step further, into drama. Obtain a script for a favorite play with enough characters for the members of the group. Some members may play two characters. Characters can be drawn from a hat or volunteered. Members take the play script home to become familiar with it, and get into the feel of their character. At the meeting, the play is “performed” by simply reading aloud in the circle with great expression as if acting on stage. There is no audience unless desired
Members can also bring small props or costume pieces to enhance the experience. It adds an element of surprise and fun, as does the way members interpret and act out their characters. This has been a very satisfying experience for those who have previously performed and no long can do so on stage. And for those who never have, but always wanted to give it a try. For an added twist – try a musical with members (or the group) performing the songs to CD music. Senor activity ideas involving music are a big hit.
Name Those Capitals -- Stretch those memories and combine a mental work out with fun travel stories. Get a large wall map (laminated if possible) and mount it. In a bowl, have slips of papers with all the state capitals. Someone in the group picks out a capital and has to call out its state, and then attach it on its correct state on the map. Then anyone in the group who has had a travel adventure to that city (or who lived there) gets to share.
Study Rocks -- If possible, this can be coupled with a great field trip if you live in an area where rock hunting is popular. You can also have a nature expert come out. This involves sharing a rock collection that a group member may have, or that an expert can bring in. Rocks tell fascinating stories about the geology of your area long before humans roamed the earth. Some types of rocks only come from volcanos, for instance. And some from sea beds.
And yes, you may be in for a big surprise as to what your ancient geology was really like! Did you know some of the desserts of Nevada used to have sea beds? Some rocks also come from fascinating caves. Some are semi-precious or precious stones. Perhaps even a real gold nugget. Members of your group may have some very interesting tales to tell as well.
Share Your Collections -- Many members of your group or facility may have interesting collections. And would love to tell about them! Some may be portable and can be brought to an activity room. Others may need to stay at home. So if you live in a multi-housing building, why not have an internal "field trip" and visit a few apartments to learn about each others' collections. This would need to be planned ahead, of course. The various hosts and hostesses may even like to share cookies with their visitors. Or have a coffee group after you're finished back in the activity room.
Decorate a birdhouse -- Small birdhouses from unfinished wood make wonderful senior activity ideas. They can be obtained from any craft store. Decorate them for a charming addition for your home or patio. This is a great project when they go on sale. They can, of course, be painted with acrylic paint and then topped with a couple coats of a water-base clear varnish. But take it a step further. Instead of paint, cut and apply colorful wrapping paper or fabric.
First brush the birdhouse surface with decoupage or the varnish, adhere paper/fabric, then brush with two top coats of decoupage medium or varnish. At the edges of the birdhouse you can apply fabric puffy paint, ribbon, or twigs cut to fit. Use puffy paint to edge the windows and door too. Using variety of colors with give is pizzazz. Glue faux moss onto the base and stud with small artificial flowerettes. The roof can also be covered with moss if desired. Tiny birds from the craft store can be glued on the roof or peeking out of the bird house.
Candy birdhouse -- Or (more crafts with candies): why not make it into a candy birdhouse and cover the roof with colored candy wafers? And the sides with gingerbread or graham crackers; and the base with colored coconut and gumdrop trees. You can still use puffy paint as edging, or frosting from a tube. If the birdhouse has a chimney, attach a little fluff of colored cotton candy as smoke. Make candy birdhouses any time, not just during holidays!
Beaded picture frame -- Do you or family have any old beaded
jewelry? Don’t get rid of them -- they're great for all kinds of senior
activity ideas! Sometimes you can find beads and jewelry in bulk at
thrift stores, and definitely at garage sales. Un-string those beads and
sort them by color into small containers. (This is also a good group
project, when everyone brings in beaded jewelry to share). Get a small
photo frame; any size will do, but 5 x 7 is a good size. Then see our
full directions at: Picture Frame Crafts.
Treasure hunt with metal detectors -- Our expert guest writer who has specialized in metal detecting and treasure hunting for years, has written an exciting page for us all about how this fun activity can be done with seniors. See what he says at Treasure Hunting With Metal Detectors.
Our Template and Craft Books!
"Easy Crafts and Gifts" Book
We have lots of crafts in many places on our web site, for many ability levels. But why hunt all over? Our crafts (and other activity ideas too) are all consolidated and organized, along with dozens of new never-seen-before projects for both men and women, in our e-book!
get over 120 projects, with plenty of tips on different ways to make
them! So you'll get many more senior activity ideas. Plus, bundled with a
free mini booklet of about 30 templates.
Two books for one: “Easy Crafts and Gifts – For Little Money & Lots of Fun,” -- plus “Bonus Templates & Patterns.”
Click here to get more information!
200 Template Drawings” Book
We have loads of other templates for crafts and activities in our handy little e-book called “200 Template Drawings – For Arts and Activities,” with 239 pages of nature patterns and templates.
It’s 200+ pre-drawn pictures of all kinds of subjects to give you a hand with the art part of any project. They range from silhouettes, to simple, to fancy. You can use them as is or mix and match them for endless possibilities. Including for senior activity ideas. Perfect for either individuals or groups. See some Sneak Peeks of the pictures in this comprehensive template book.
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 without an actual Kindle device.) 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.
In addition to these senior activity ideas, be sure to also check out:
Elderly Activities -- Besides our senior activity ideas here, we also have a separate area of suggestions just for the more elderly who may have limitations.
Free For Seniors -- (Any others too, of course!) Check out the various items including art and photos you can download for free, or link to, to get free items and information. Many may be useful for senior activity ideas.
Outdoor Elderly Activities -- Fun things to do outdoors (for any age).
Senior Reading Activities -- See our list of favorite books for senior reading activities. Whether you are a reader or have a friend or loved one that needs to be read to, this is wonderful way to not only entertain, but also bond with loved ones.
Finding a Hobby -- Finding a hobby that is just right for you will give you a lifetime of enjoyment. Here’s the coolest list of hobby ideas (for all ages) either to do alone or in a group. Some of the best senior activity ideas are based around hobbies. And you can share yours too.
Meaningful Dementia Activities -- Finding meaningful dementia activities may be new to you if you're caring for a loved one, or an ongoing challenge if you're a professional caregiver or activities director. We have all kinds of suggestions on this page, and not just the basics we are all familiar with.
Winter Holiday Activities For Seniors -- Looking for holiday activities for seniors? We have lots here, and maybe some new twists on traditional ideas. And hopefully a springboard for you to get more ideas of your own.