Late in life, it is more important than ever to keep our minds and bodies active. Studies show that brain exercises keep the mind healthy. As such, we want to find engaging activities that hold our attention. It is even better if we have something to show for our efforts. Activities can also be a great way to socialise more. With these in mind, we have compiled a list of 20 engaging activities for the elderly.
Many people may not consider puzzles to be particularly engaging. However, they are actually a great way of keeping the mind active. There are a great many designs available, including 3D puzzles. Puzzles are, as the name implies, particularly puzzling. Therefore, they are great for keeping you busy, sometimes for hours at a time.
Nothing keeps the mind awake quite like trivia. Over the years you are sure to have picked up oodles of information. Relatives may have told you it is useless knowledge, but quizzes are the perfect opportunity to put your knowledge to use. You could attend your local pub quiz, or simply pick up a quiz book and challenge your family. When you win, your family will know that you have a mind to be reckoned with.
You read that right. Video games are becoming increasingly popular amongst the elderly. For good reason, too! There are some great games out there that are good for both mind and body. These include casual mobile games like Candy Crush Saga and motion games like Wii Sports. With so many benefits from playing, video games are great activities for the elderly.
If you are not a fan of computers or games consoles, board games remain a fantastic alternative. There are so many available nowadays, exploring more themes than ever before. Some are trivia games based on famous gameshows. Others are household names, such as Monopoly or Cluedo. What they all have in common is that they encourage you to socialise and stimulate the mind. Often they require a bit of strategic thinking if you are going to emerge victorious.
It is good to get out of the house every now and then. An engaging but laid-back activity may be a visit to the cinema. As everything starts to open again, there are some great films coming out. It is never too late to find a new favourite franchise. Or, if you prefer the classics, many smaller cinemas will host silver screen reruns of golden oldies. They are great activities for the elderly, getting you out of the house without risking exhaustion.
Reading can be both engaging and relaxing. There are so many amazing books out there, exploring countless genres. With more time on your hands, there has never been a better time to catch up on your reading list. Or you may want to try something new. Is there a subject you have been meaning to learn about? Maybe you recently discovered a new author. There could even be a genre you have avoided all your life that you want to try out. Reading is great for the mind, making it an ideal activity.
It is good to get out of the house and stretch your legs. Walks are great activities for the elderly because they aid with blood flow and help to keep the muscles strong. Whilst they may prove tiring towards the end of the trip, the benefits far outweigh this. Furthermore, the more walks you go on the easier they will become. Fresh air is also great for your mental health.
Like walking, swimming is a great way of keeping healthy. It may even be a better way to be active if you have arthritis. Exercising in water takes the pressure off your joints, making movement easier. You will also find that many of the benefits of walking also come with swimming. Sometimes, you may be able to visit an outdoors swimming pool, allowing you to get some fresh air, too.
This may be a more niche activity, but if you have the interest then birdwatching can be a great activity for the elderly. It takes a lot of focus and patience to look for birds. Plus, it can help to increase your alertness; you need to be ready to grab your binoculars at a moment’s notice. Birdwatching also gets you out in the open.
If you prefer flora over fauna, gardening and horticulture are great activities for elderly people. They get you out into the sun, requiring dedication and focus. As such, your mind will be kept as sharp as the thorns on your roses. Not only can gardening help to keep you fit and active, but you could also grow your own fruit and vegetables. This will further help to keep you healthy.
A great way to keep busy is to rescue a pet. There are many old dogs in rescue homes across the country looking for new, loving owners. A dog can give you an extra reason to leave the house; cats provide companionship and can often be quite playful. Even animals like guinea pigs or rabbits can prove to be engaging. All pets require attention and care, which guarantees that they will keep you active in daily life.
It is never too late to learn something new. Learning to play a musical instrument – whether it be the trumpet, drums, or the guitar – keeps the mind sharp. It also gives you something to aim for, which can be great for motivating yourself to get out of bed every morning. Learning an instrument can help to improve your hand-eye coordination, and it is also something to show off to the family. Maybe you could even learn to play alongside the grandkids.
Even if you are not planning on travelling anywhere, learning a new language is a great way to keep the mind active. It can help with memory and concentration and helps your mind to multitask. Learning a new language can also encourage creativity. Of course, if you are planning on taking a holiday, learning a new language comes with plenty of other advantages.
If you like to have something to show at the end of an activity, model building may be ideal for you. It requires incredible focus and encourages precision and attention to detail. You will often find yourself dealing with fiddly parts, and you will have to follow the instructions to the letter if you want to complete your model. It may also require some painting to complete.
Do you have collections of photographs throughout the house? Why not put them to use, and relive some old memories, by putting together a scrapbook? Of all these engaging activities for elderly people, scrapbooking may be the most sentimental. It can be a great way to revisit significant moments from your past and make a wonderful gift for your family.
Little is more calming and therapeutic than engaging in some painting. You could set up some objects in the house and paint a still life, set up your easel in the garden, or even sign up to a life drawing class. Like many of these activities for elderly people, painting keeps the mind keen. It also helps keep the creativity flowing and can help with your hand-eye coordination.
Another fun, crafty activity is knitting. You could also give crocheting a go. There are some great kits available both online and in craft shops. These are great activities to try out because they will help to reduce stress whilst supporting your hand-eye coordination. It is particularly good for supporting fine motor skills. Furthermore, it is also a hobby you can do from the comfort of your armchair.
If knitting and crocheting are a little too mundane for you, why not try jewellery making? Like the previous activity, there are plenty of kits available to help get you started. Making your own jewellery can be a particularly rewarding experience. This is not only because it supports fine motor skills, but because in the end you have jewellery that you can wear or sell. Therefore, it may also be a financially viable activity as well.
Making something to sell is good but making something you can eat is great. Baking is one of the activities for elderly people that never stops giving. Not only can you make food for yourself, but you can also entice the grandkids to come and visit more often. They could bake with you for some extra bonding time. Baking can also awaken latent memories; a simple smell may remind you of a day at the fairground. Finally, baking is generally a very stress-free experience. The less stress in your life, the healthier you are.
Sometimes you just are not ready to settle down at home. You want to keep yourself motivated by getting up and going to work. Whilst you may not have the energy or be healthy enough to work full hours, there are still plenty of volunteer opportunities out there. It could be something as simple as baking a cake for a charity gala; instead, you might go out fundraising. You might even offer a helping hand at your local school or library. Getting out and about, and being productive, is great for your mental health. It also keeps the mind keen and can help with memory and timekeeping. Why not look online for opportunities near you.
Sometimes you just need an extra pair of hands around the house. Having some help could free up more time to spend on these fantastic activities for elderly people. A domiciliary or live-in carer can perform tasks around the house that may leave you too tired to enjoy your hobbies.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 16th November 2021 to reflect current information.