Engaging Activities for Seniors
Everyone needs to participate in an engaging activity to enrich their lives—may it be a busy young adult or a senior in a memory care assisted living community.
Having a “go-to” recreational activity improves the overall health of a senior, especially those with chronic health conditions. Your senior loved one does not need to have a big, full-on hobby at the moment. You can introduce them to interesting activities and see if it engages them.
If you’re a caregiver or a loved one in search of the perfect activity for a senior in memory care, then you are on the right path!
1. Physical Exercises
Simple exercises can positively influence your patient or loved one’s whole day. It can help improve their sleep and prevents them from being restless the entire day. Also, regular morning exercises uplift their mood and improve their overall health. Some senior-friendly activities to try include:
- Walking with a companion, preferably in a familiar or relaxing place.
- Water aerobics
- Guided yoga or tai-chi
- Gardening or fishing
Make sure to choose physical activities based on your loved one’s fitness level and condition.
2. Simple Home or Handy Tasks
Another way to get their bodies moving is by encouraging them to do simple home tasks with you. Older adults who love cleaning, organizing, or tinkering can find relaxation through these kinds of activities.
Ideally, you should let them do simple and fail-free tasks that would help them feel productive. Some examples include folding small pieces of laundry, organizing their table, wiping plastic Tupperware, or sweeping the floor.
3. Crocheting or Knitting
Older adults in the early stages of dementia can still access their long-term memories. As a result, your loved one may still remember some hobbies they love to do, like knitting or crocheting.
You can buy them knitting kits with patterns or bring them their favorite crocheted masterpiece from before. Even if they don’t remember how to knit anymore, they would appreciate the presence and feel of a quilt that they did years ago.
Scrapbooking or collaging is a fun way to stimulate your loved one’s mind and creativity while allowing their hands to be occupied and to practice their motor skills. This activity also helps dementia patients in several ways, such as:
- Preserving their memories.
- Allows them to express themselves creatively.
- Provides emotional nourishment.
- Boosts a sense of accomplishment.
- Promotes self-confidence and self-esteem.
You can scan and print out some family photos and solo shots that feature some of their most memorable moments. Another way is to choose a subject then create a collage based on your patient or loved one’s specific interest.
5. Experimenting with Arts
Most memory care assisted living facilities provide art activities for their residents to encourage creativity and visual expression.
If your loved one was a fan of artful pursuits before their dementia, then they may appreciate crafty activities like:
- Painting with non-toxic watercolor
- Drawing using different mediums like charcoal or crayon
- Sculpting with clay dough
- Creating cards
- Jewelry making with beads
Art projects like these will not only keep your loved one’s mind busy but will also stimulate it to be active and sharp. Furthermore, it benefits other aspects of their life like improving their communication and social interaction.
6. Listening to Music
Another outlet that can pass the time and unleash your loved one’s creativity is music. It can be through music lessons, playing an instrument, or just simply listening to a soothing sound.
Music has always been a tool used by therapists to enhance cognitive function in dementia patients. So, why not make it a fun activity that your loved one can enjoy.
Stream classical songs from their time or do sing-alongs of holiday carols. You can also play music while doing mundane things like household chores or during shower time.
7. Playing Games
Sometimes, a simple game of chess or puzzle leads to a fun afternoon and more significant results! So, don’t underestimate the power of playing games. It can help improve a senior’s focus, memory, and sense of productivity. Here are some games you can try playing with your patient or loved one:
- A picture puzzle of a family photo or their favorite thing
- Matching games
- Sorting games using playing cards
- Easy word search puzzles
8. Exploring Nature
Let your senior loved one get some fresh air and a change in scenery. Get in touch with nature by bringing them to the local park or nature reserve where there’s little to no crowd. They can have a look at the wildlife there, watch the birds, and even feed them.
You can also just use your outdoor space to do a little gardening while feeling the wind on your face. Or you and your senior loved one can just prop up chairs in your outdoor garden, sit, and enjoy a conversation.
9. Reminiscing Activities
Reminiscing activities can serve as both a therapy and a fun hobby. These activities use sensory and visual cues to help seniors with dementia remember good memories from their past. Some examples include:
- Looking through a photo album or making a collage
- Watching old family videos.
- Exploring their box of sentimental things.
10. Dabbling with Textures
Stimulate their sense of touch by introducing them to diverse textures. For instance, you can let them pet a dog and feel its soft fur. Or have a moment to touch the leaves or petals of their favorite flower.
Introduce them to photography by giving them a film camera of their own. You can opt for a reusable one because it’s easier to operate. Guide them through the first few snaps, then let them have their way and capture whatever they find interesting.
Make sure to develop their shots and let them see them so they’ll feel motivated to continue with it.
12. Reading or Hearing Stories
Seniors with dementia in memory care assisted living may struggle with reading and comprehending stories. But if your loved one enjoyed reading before their disease, then they might appreciate just holding a book, looking through its pictures, or hearing a story from you.
Just make sure to buy reading materials mainly published to cater to individuals with dementia.