Sarina’s life once revolved around the great outdoors. Since her retirement, she had spent most of her days gardening, going for long walks, and attending Tai Chi classes in the park near her house. Since her stroke, however, everything changed. Sarina was no longer able to get outside and do the activities she loved with ease. While being in a wheelchair certainly didn’t confine her to her home, she found it more difficult to enjoy the outdoor activities she once did.
Anticipating the difficulty Sarina would have with spending more time indoors, her daughter Jenn decided to help her mother make her indoor activities just as engaging and active for her as the outdoors had once been. So, she began brainstorming ideas to help keep her mother busy and feel fulfilled. Luckily, the activities she came up with were a hit, and Sarina ended up discovering new passions and talents.
If it is difficult for your aging loved one to get outdoors, or if you are simply looking for fun and fulfilling activities for them to do in their home, we’ve created a list of some of our favorite indoor activities for seniors. Not only will these activities help keep their minds active and engaged, they also help to foster creativity and learning.
Indoor Activities for Seniors
When brainstorming indoor activity ideas for your aging loved one, it’s a good idea to keep a few things in mind. First, try and think of an activity that has a social component, as being indoors all day can be isolating. Next, imagine an activity that has a physical component so that they can keep their bodies strong and healthy and continue living independently. Finally, consider the different ways that they like to engage their mind. Perhaps they are very creative, or musical, or practical. Once you’ve considered all of these things, you’ll be better equipped to come up with activities that they will not only provide meaningful benefits but that they will also enjoy.
Here are a few ideas to consider for your aging loved one to help get some ideas flowing:
- Arts and Crafts: Engaging in creative activity is such a great way to keep the mind sharp, strengthen the muscles in the hands, and improve dexterity. Peruse Pinterest for some fun craft ideas for seniors and pick out a few you think your loved one would enjoy. If they give you the go ahead, take them to a craft store and have fun picking out supplies together (if they are able). Then, get a nice big bin for all their art supplies so that they can pull it out whenever they are feeling crafty. If your loved one has trouble using their hands, consider trying crafts for seniors with limited dexterity; there is still lots they can do that doesn’t require the fine muscle movements of the fingers. Plus, you can help them with their crafts, which makes for some quality time spent together.
- Game Nights: Game nights—or afternoons, if your loved one goes to bed early—are a lot of fun for the whole family. Invite friends, neighbors, and family over, set out some snacks, and play your loved one’s favorite games together. Rummy, Canasta, Pictionary, and Charades are just a few fun games that people of all ages can enjoy. Not only will game nights prevent your loved one from feeling isolated in their home, if you schedule them regularly they will always have something to look forward to. After all, nothing is nicer than the company of those you love, especially when you aren’t able to get out and see them anymore.
- Exercise: Your loved one doesn’t need to be outdoors to enjoy physical activity. In fact, if they do have trouble getting outdoors it is all the more important that they engage in regular exercise to stay healthy. If they are able, teach them some exercises to improve balance that they can do on a daily basis to get their blood pumping. Or, if your loved one likes Tai Chi, help them clear a space in their living room to practice. You may even consider finding a video on YouTube that they can follow. Light arm weight circuits and chair exercises can also be great for improving strength and agility, and can easily be done from a wheelchair.
- Herb Gardening: While it may be difficult for your loved one to tend an outdoor garden, who says they can’t do it indoors? Herbs are a great thing to grow indoors, especially if your loved one has a sunny windowsill for them to sit on. Pick up a few of your loved one’s favorite herbs at a garden store along with a pot or window box and some soil to replant them in. Together you and your loved one can get your hands dirty replanting the herbs. What’s also great about herbs is that they need to be watered and tended to very regularly, which will give your loved one something to do every day. Plus, they can use them in their cooking to add a flavorful and nutritional boost!
Remember, everyone is different, so it’s important to keep your aging loved one’s interests in mind when suggesting activities to them. If none of the above suggestions seem to pique their interest, try coming up with some ideas together. Perhaps they’ve always wanted to learn how to play the keyboard or take up scrapbooking. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the activity is as long as it brings them joy.
Ways to Keep Your Loved One Active
Even if you have loads of fun activity ideas, organizing the day so that it is productive and meaningful for your loved one can be a challenge. This is why planning ahead is key. Creating an activity care plan can be a very helpful way to ensure that your loved one is engaged physically and mentally.
Your loved one’s activity care plan will depend on their needs and their abilities, but generally speaking, you want to make sure that each day has some social component, some physical component, and some mental stimulation. As you can tell from the activities above, some activities combine more than one of these, so you don’t always have to cram the day with a bunch of different activities.
A Social Day Program can also be a great way for your loved one to spend their days. These programs typically include various physical and mental activities in the context of a warm and supportive community. Many programs also provide transportation to and from the program site, making it easy for your loved one to leave their home and allowing you to take a break from caregiving.
Sarina’s daughter Jenn, for instance, found that although planning daily activities for her mother was rewarding, it was time-consuming. So, Sarina started attending a social day program for aging adults in her area. Not only did Sarina love getting out of her house every day, she also made new friends and got to do fun activities together with them. Finally, she felt as though she had found her place in the world once again.
Institute on Aging is proud to offer a variety of programs and resources for aging adults living independently, including a Social Day Program. For more information about how your aging loved one can be a part of our community, contact us today.