Growing older doesn't have to mean the fun stops! With age comes wisdom and a treasure trove of experiences. To keep the golden years sparkling, it's crucial to engage in fulfilling and enjoyable activities. Whether you or your loved one is living independently, receiving in-home care or residing in a facility, here are some tried-and-true activities designed to enhance joy and wellbeing.
Engaging in physical activities boosts health by improving strength, endurance and balance and can reignite a zest for life. Better health may lead to fewer injuries and staying independent for longer.
Participating in at least two hours of moderate-intensity aerobics spread over five to seven days a week has excellent health benefits for all. And this doesn’t change as we get older.
Here are our top picks for staying active:
Strength training activities
Easy activities for elderly people include strength training! Strength training isn't just the realm of young athletes. Seniors can greatly benefit from it, too. By incorporating regular strength training into your routine, older adults can protect bone health, maintain muscle mass, and improve overall quality of life.
Initially, your exercise routine should focus on using your body weight. Then, when you're ready to add an extra challenge, you can use light weights.
Strength training activities for older people include:
This exercise works the thighs and glutes.
- Use a sturdy chair for support.
- Stand in front of it with feet hip-width apart.
- Lower your body as if you're about to sit.
- Then, push through your heels to stand up.
2. Incline pushups
This targets the chest and arms.
- Instead of the floor, use a wall or a sturdy table.
- Stand a few feet away.
- Place your hands on the surface and push yourself away.
3. Seated rowing
This helps strengthen the back muscles.
- Wrap a resistance band around a steady post or under your feet.
- Pull the band towards you while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
4. Stationary lunges
This challenges the legs and core.
- Hold onto a support.
- Take a step forward and bend both knees to 90 degrees.
- Then, push back to the starting position.
Safety is key. It's essential to start slow and gradually increase intensity.
Here are a few guidelines:
- Before starting any exercise routine, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if there are pre-existing.
- Incorrect form can lead to injuries. Consider hiring a personal trainer or attending group exercise classes tailored for seniors to learn the basics.
- If something feels off or painful (beyond regular muscle soreness), it's essential to stop and re-evaluate.
Aerobic exercises suitable for seniors
Easy activities for elderly residents can include aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises, often termed as ‘cardio’, involve routines that increase heart rate and breathing, offering numerous health benefits, especially for older adults.
Activities for seniors to stay active include:
Simple yet effective aerobic exercise. Morning walks in a park or evening strolls in the neighbourhood can do wonders. Consider joining a local walking group or club for a more structured approach.
Stationary bikes or leisurely rides in a park can be both fun and beneficial. An ergonomically fitted bicycle will help prevent strains.
7. Nature hiking
For the more adventurous, gentle hikes in nature can be invigorating. Combining fresh air, nature's beauty, and physical activity can be incredibly therapeutic.
Engaging in aerobic exercises safely is paramount, especially for seniors. Here are a few considerations to bear in mind for safety:
- Especially if one is new to exercise or returning after a long hiatus, it’s essential to begin at a comfortable pace and gradually increase intensity.
- Drink water before, during, and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
- Comfortable shoes with good grip and support and breathable clothing can make a world of difference.
- Fitness trackers or smartwatches can help monitor heart rate and ensure it stays within a safe range.
Activities to promote balance
Activities for seniors might include those to improve balance. While balance might seem like a basic skill, maintaining it becomes crucial for safety and overall wellbeing as we age. Engaging in balance exercises not only helps prevent falls but can also boost confidence in daily activities.
Balance exercise routines include:
8. Standing on one foot
- Hold onto a sturdy chair.
- Lift one foot off the ground.
- Hold the position as long as you are comfortable.
- Switch feet and repeat.
Over time, try doing this without holding onto the chair.
9. Walking heel-to-toe
This exercise mimics a tightrope walk but on solid ground.
- Imagine you’re walking in a straight line (or a tightrope, if that helps!)
- Place one foot in front of the other so that the heel of one foot touches the toes of the other.
10. Tai Chi
This ancient Chinese martial art is both meditative and functional. Its flowing movements are excellent for improving balance, coordination and flexibility.
Specific yoga poses, like the Tree Pose or Warrior Pose, challenge and enhance balance. Try joining a senior-specific yoga class, where you can access guidance and also socialise with others.
While Pilates primarily focuses on core strength, many of its exercises also improve balance and coordination. Opt for classes or tutorials specifically tailored for seniors.
Balance exercises are generally low impact, but it’s essential to prioritise safety. Ensure the area is free from obstacles and make sure there is a sturdy chair or railing nearby that can provide support when needed.
Exercises to promote flexibility
As we age, our muscles and tendons naturally lose their elasticity, which can lead to stiffness, restricted movement, and an increased risk of muscle strains or joint pain. For seniors, maintaining and enhancing flexibility is key to ensuring a high quality of life, independence, and comfort.
Flexibility exercises include:
13. Neck and shoulder stretches
Gently tilting the head from side to side or doing slow neck rotations can alleviate tension in these areas. Shrugging and releasing the shoulders can also be beneficial.
14. Calf stretches
Using a wall for support, press the ball of the foot against it while keeping the heel on the ground. This stretches the calf muscles effectively.
15. Quadricep stretch
- Hold onto a chair for balance.
- Gently grasp one ankle and pull it towards your buttocks.
- Feel the stretch in the front of the thigh.
Yoga and Pilates can also be great for older adults looking to improve flexibility.
- Warm up the body before diving into stretches. A few minutes of walking or gentle marching in place can prep the muscles.
- Listen to your body. Stretch to the point of tension, not pain. If a stretch hurts, it's a signal to ease up.
Activities for eye-hand coordination
For seniors, maintaining and improving eye-hand coordination contributes to overall cognitive health and daily functionality. These activities promote mental sharpness and help with tasks like cooking, picking up objects, and navigating surroundings confidently.
Family and friends can join in on these great eye-hand activities:
16. Racquet sports
Participating in racquet sports such as tennis, badminton, and table tennis demands split-second decision-making and precise ball-handling. Seniors engaging in these games may refine eye-hand coordination and enhance cognitive agility.
Swimming is a full-body exercise that necessitates synchronised movements of limbs and breath control. The rhythmic nature of swimming supports eye-hand coordination, balance, and muscle strength. The buoyancy of water reduces the impact on joints, making swimming a gentle yet effective way to maintain physical fitness for older adults.
18. Non-contact boxing
Non-contact boxing involves shadowboxing and punching movements without actual physical contact. The combination of hand-eye coordination and footwork in boxing routines can significantly enhance cognitive and physical skills.
19. Sewing or knitting
Crafting activities like sewing or knitting involve intricate hand movements and visual focus. These tasks challenge seniors' fine motor skills, fostering better hand and eye coordination.
20. Playing catch with a ball
Simple yet effective, playing catch with a ball involves tracking the ball's trajectory and timing catches. This activity can be tailored to various skill levels and physical abilities.
Easy Activities for Elderly Adults
Easy activities for seniors help stimulate the senses, which can spark moments of joy and improve mental health. This is especially important for adults with dementia. Spending time with your loved one in a stimulating activity is a great way to bond and show you care.
Arts and Crafts Activities
Creative activities hold the power to uplift spirits, stimulate creativity and provide a sense of accomplishment. For older adults, engaging in crafts isn't merely about creating beautiful pieces—it's a means of expressing yourself, combating feelings of isolation, and regaining a sense of purpose.
Some great crafts ideas include:
Painting offers a dynamic outlet for self-expression. Seniors can explore a world of colours and textures, translating emotions and experiences onto canvas. This creative process can help ignite the imagination, enabling the communication of thoughts and feelings that words may struggle to convey.
Colouring can be a fun activity to enjoy with children or simply alone. It's a relaxing and meditative activity with immense therapeutic value for seniors. Engaging in intricate designs and selecting colours promotes focus and mindfulness. It's a gentle way to soothe the mind, reduce stress, and create a sense of tranquillity.
23. Making jewellery
Designing and crafting jewellery isn't solely about aesthetics. It's about crafting wearable memories. Create pieces that hold personal significance, such as a bracelet adorned with charms representing cherished moments or a necklace that represents your unique style.
The tactile nature of moulding clay engages the senses and fosters a deep connection between your hands and the creative process. Crafting functional pieces or decorative sculptures encourages a sense of accomplishment and encourages exploration.
25. Knitting circles
Quilt making, crocheting, and knitting are great sensory group activities for the elderly to enjoy. Working with your hands is both mental and physical therapy. Also, it's an excellent opportunity to mingle socially with people of similar interests.
Crafting is often a social activity that transcends generations. Elderly adults can engage in crafting sessions with family members, grandchildren or fellow residents in a communal setting. These shared moments foster connections and create lasting memories.
When ideas for activities for older people also involve the outdoors, there's an added benefit. It's a great way to get fresh air while stimulating the senses.
Gardening doesn't need physical strength. So, you can do basic tasks such as raking and watering or tending to flowers and herbs and still gain a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
Why not try one of the following:
- Planting seeds and watching as they transform into flourishing plants over time.
- Digging, planting, watering and pruning (depending on physical abilities).
- Enjoying the scent of flowers and the textures in the garden, such as rustling leaves.
- Joining a local community gardening club for a sense of camaraderie.
- Tending to raise beds or containers (which don’t require bending or kneeling).
- Harvesting vegetables and fruits or picking a bunch of flowers from the garden.
Higher learning activities
Embracing the pursuit of knowledge knows no age limits, and for older adults, the journey of higher learning becomes a gateway to intellectual stimulation, personal growth, and expanding horizons.
Engaging in educational activities through formal classes or self-directed exploration holds profound benefits that resonate deeply with older adults.
- Why not sign up for a local course or explore night classes at the local college?
- Sign up for an online course through Udemy or Coursera.
- Try learning a language you have always been fascinated by.
Whatever your interests, you’re bound to find a course you can pursue or a book you can read about it.
Reading and writing activities
The world of reading and writing is a gateway to imagination, connection, and personal expression. Engaging in literary pursuits can be a great way to enrich life, nourish the mind, ignite creativity, and foster social interaction.
Here are some great activities for seniors to enjoy:
35. Book clubs
Participating in book clubs is more than just engaging with literature. It's about engaging with minds. Delve into thought-provoking books and then gather to discuss themes, characters, and interpretations. You might make new connections with fellow book enthusiasts!
36. Writing poetry or short stories
Writing is a powerful mode of self-expression. Pen down your life experiences, memories, or fictional tales. Journaling offers a space for reflection, allowing you to capture thoughts and emotions.
37. Take out a library membership
Browsing the local library can be a nice excuse to leave the house and explore. Why not try out a new genre, explore historical accounts, delve into a new or classic work of fiction or read a biography?
Some ideas for activities for the elderly include volunteering. It's an excellent way to provide feelings of usefulness and purpose during the later years of life.
Think about what you’re good at or enjoy the most to find a rewarding volunteer activity. For example, you could:
- Cook at a shelter if you love to cook.
- If you like knitting or sewing, why not create blankets for those in need?
- Book lovers could try volunteering at your local Oxfam bookshop or local library.
Sensory Group Activities
You may find sensory group activities for elderly people everywhere, from assisted living and dementia care facilities to private games at home.
Music and dancing activities
The universal language of music connects us all to emotions, memories, and shared experiences. For older adults, listening to music, singing, and dancing transcends mere entertainment – it can enrich lives by promoting happiness, enhancing cognitive abilities, and fostering a profound sense of connection.
Why not try one of the following activities:
- Be transported to a different time in your life by listening to an old favourite record.
- Join a local choir to meet others, perform, and improve your cognitive health.
- Sign up for a dance class tailored to seniors at your local community centre.
- Boost your mood with a casual dance around the living room to your favourite song.
- Learn to play a musical instrument. Some classes are even available online.
- Attend a music concert, opera or ballet performance – you could invite a loved one.
Spa day & relaxation activities
A spa day is a luxurious treat that nurtures physical and emotional wellbeing, and fosters a deep sense of self-care.
Here are some spa activities ideal for older adults:
- Massages alleviate tension, improve circulation, and relieve pain
- Heat therapies can ease joint discomfort and promote healing.
- Hydrotherapy, or body scrubs, stimulate circulation and help flush toxins from the body.
- Arrange a mother-daughter spa day or invite a friend or loved one.
Treatments focusing on skincare, grooming and beauty rituals can enhance body image and self-confidence.
Cooking and baking activities
The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home and for a good reason. Cooking and baking aren't just about preparing meals – they're deeply rooted in tradition, culture and our personal histories. For seniors, cooking or baking can be a delightful blend of nostalgia, sensory stimulation and a creative outlet.
Why not try one of these cooking activities, ideal for older adults:
- Choose a country or cuisine and create a meal around that theme. It's a culinary trip without leaving the house!
- Swap favourite recipes with friends or family. It’s a wonderful way to discover new dishes, connect with loved ones and reminisce over fond memories.
- Bake bread, pastries or cookies. Baking from scratch can be therapeutic and rewarding. Plus, there's a delicious treat to enjoy at the end!
- If gardening is also a hobby, incorporate home-grown vegetables or herbs into meals. The sense of satisfaction is unparalleled!
Top tip: Make cooking tasks safer and easier for seniors by investing in ergonomically designed utensils and non-slip mats.
For many, the gentle clatter of dice, the shuffle of cards or the strategic placement of a board game piece is synonymous with cherished memories of family gatherings and cosy evenings. Especially for seniors, games are not just about fun – they can offer cognitive exercise, social interaction and even a touch of nostalgia.
Here are a few game-playing activity ideas:
- Scrabble is a classic word game that tests vocabulary, as well as spatial and strategic thinking.
- Bridge and other card games enhance memory and strategic thinking, as well as promote teamwork and a sense of joy.
- Dominoes is a game of numbers and strategy. This classic game can be both challenging and relaxing, as well as nostalgic!
- Chess is a timeless game of strategy. It stimulates both sides of the brain and can even improve memory and creativity.
- Jigsaw puzzles or Sudoku are fantastic for concentration and cognitive function.
Exercise, play and sensory activities can improve mental & physical health
At Relish, we understand how physical and sensory activities for seniors can help improve quality of life. So, we've created a bank of activities for seniors and people living with dementia. To gain free access to our amazing range of activity ideas, simply sign up with your email address.