Autumn is now in full swing and winter is right around the corner, so you may be asking yourself: How do I keep my elderly loved ones or my residents engaged this season? It’s not always easy to find ways to stay entertained on those dreary, cold, and rainy days, however, we have compiled a list of activities for you that may just fit the bill:
As the well-known phrase goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. As you age, extra measures need to be taken to ensure a sound mind and body. Puzzles are a great way to maintain hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and keep the brain active - and don’t limit yourself to the regular jigsaw puzzles either! Consider handheld brain teasers that require you to find a way to separate two pieces or strategy games like Connect 4. If you know somebody who is mathematically inclined or cruciverbalist, consider Sudoku or crosswords. Challenging yourself in such ways helps maintain vital connections between different areas of your brain.
When you hear the word ‘competitive’ does anyone in particular come to mind? Or do you know anybody who just likes to be included? Finding activities that everyone can partake in is not always easy when it comes to seniors, but there are still plenty of opportunities to get everyone involved, regardless of mobility capacities. There is something for everyone at an arcade, so don’t be afraid to get creative! Think jumbo ring toss, floor net basketball, indoor mini golf, giant ping pong, and even a dance party - all of which improve balance, flexibility, energy levels and decrease loneliness. Or, for those seniors who prefer something more relaxing, yoga, simple pool noodle exercises and swimming (if there’s a pool) comes with the same benefits as well. Long story short, make exercise fun and it will bring only good things!
Arts & Crafts
Some days (and people) are just more on the quiet side, so how do you navigate this challenge, you may ask? Get creative, literally! Art takes many forms, including coloring, drawing, painting, sculpting and building. Provide residents with color (or paint)-by-numbers books, or lead drawing sessions that challenge them to use different drawing styles. Hold painting nights where residents can get familiar with different kinds of paint, or even set up your own “paint and sip,” where residents can follow an artist’s lead. If you want to take it a step further, you could even have an art exhibition, where residents can proudly display their work to others. When it comes to sculpting and building projects, consider clay (or Playdoh), and materials like Legos to help residents form their masterpieces! The benefits of art are as much mental as they are physical: from improving cognitive function, memory, self-expression and sense of community, to greater motor skills and coordination.
The beauty of music is a universal experience, and any music lover will tell you how important it is in bringing people together. Ask residents what their favorite songs are and then play them for the whole group. You could even turn it into a game where other residents have to guess which resident chose the song, or guess which artist is singing the song! Not only will residents get a better sense of individual music tastes, but it will promote conversations between residents about songs, and the stories behind them. Since everyone will likely have different tastes in music, residents will walk away not only feeling more connected to their peers, but with new and refreshing music that could prompt personal exploration into a new genre. Another option is to hold karaoke or instrumental nights, where residents can sing out loud or play an instrument such as the piano. All the above has been shown to relax the body, lower blood pressure and improve sleep and digestion, as well as an increased sense of community and friendship.
When it comes to senior care, it's important to remember that everyone was young once, and the desire to feel included, to feel as though one's life has purpose, and to feel loved never goes away. Winter and autumn can be dark, cold and unforgiving, making seasonal depression an unwelcome guest to many. For seniors who are already living away from family and friends, this presents an additional challenge, as they are already feeling isolated from those they love. When considering activities for your seniors, consider those that are not only going to improve or maintain mental skills and bodily coordination, but, arguably more importantly, will build a sense of community and belonging that everyone strives for.
What are some ways that you are keeping your seniors active this season? We’d love to know - email us or submit a comment below!