It’s March 20, 2020 and it seems that almost the entire world is headed for a lockdown due to the Coronavirus! So, as more and more cities and counties and states are asking and/or ordering the majority of their citizens to stay home – those who are caregivers living with or caring for their elderly loved ones are scrambling to find more activities and things to do to fight the boredom.
Our List Of Things To Do With Elderly Loved Ones When You’re Stuck At Home
Our list below is filled with some of the usual activities you would expect to be on a list like this but I personally like to think out of the box so there will also be some unique activities on this list as well. I do hope that you will be able to find a few things to do that will be of interest to you and your family.
Entertainment Via Television And Internet
Of course watching TV is an easy form of activity and entertainment. If you have WiFi in your home and you haven’t yet installed a Roku or Firestick device I would encourage you to do that. It adds many more options of what to watch – many are free so there’s no additional charge except for the purchase of either one of these products.
- Roku for older television sets
Roku for newer television sets
Fire Stick for all television sets
Fire Stick for older television sets will also need this HDMI to Composite AV Converter
- Movies on DVD – of course there are also movies that you can purchase on DVD as well.
- Quibi – this is a new “station” that will be launched April 6, 2020. The word Quibi stands for “quick bites”. It’s free for 90 days and then I think it’s going to be about $5.00 or $6.00 per month. There is a lineup of shows on there of all types of genres and the deal is that every episode of every show will be only 10 minutes long. This is not something you would get on your television set unless you mirror it from your smart phone to your TV. It’s a “station” that you can watch from your smartphone. Check out TV Guide’s instructional about this new brand of entertainment.
- Amazon Prime – if you have young children in your home as well, know that Amazon Prime has just released dozens of TV shows and movies for young kids for free.
- Metopera.org – although the Metropolitan Opera has canceled this season due to the pandemic, they decided to broadcast their performances nightly. A friend of mine is holding a black tie and opera night with her sequestered family and will be watching an opera! I just love her creativity.
- YouTube – another great “channel” that many people don’t think of is Youtube! You can access it for free from a Roku or Firestick device. You can access so many different videos such as:
- Free Movies
- Music – I love many different genres of songs but I don’t always like the voice of the singer so I use Youtube to find people who sing “covers” of these songs. It’s a great way to find artists that are not so well known.
- Broadway and off broadway shows
- Ted Talks
- Museum Tours
- Art Gallery Tours
- Travel Vlogs through national parks and cities around the world
- I’m sure there are many more other channels that you can find on Youtube. There seem to be many videos on almost any area of interest!
- Google Earth / Google Maps – you probably wouldn’t think of this as a form of entertainment and you could not do this on your TV (at least I don’t think so) but you could certainly go to Google Maps on your computer / laptop. I did this with my mother who was born in Trento, Italy. We would go to a spot in that city on Google Maps and then use that little yellow guy on the bottom right of the screen to go directly onto the street! We would then “virtually walk” along the streets and it was a great way for my mother to see her birthplace again!
- Podcasts – if you haven’t listened to a podcast in the past year or so, then it seems you may be in the minority. They have clearly grown in number and popularity and I would say you could find a podcast on just about any possible topic out there!! Just take a look at the plethora of results on Google for podcasts!
Here are some that you and your senior loved ones might enjoy:
- Music – lets not forget the wonders that music can bring to our lives and our souls. I personally use my Alexa devices to play music throughout my home most all day long.
If you are like me and enjoy learning, then you can take this time to delve into that! If you wanted to learn art or music or a different language – there are courses for that. Or perhaps you just want to brush up on theology, history, literature – you can do that too!
- Harvard Extension School
- Yale Open Courses
- Digitaldefynd has a list of 20 which include some I already mentioned
- Youtube also has multiple videos about these online courses
- Skype guitar lessons by Chuck Criss – email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Music lessons by Debbie Pierce – contact her by phone or email on her website
Almost everyone loves to read or listen to audio books. It could be from books, magazines, newspapers or journals – there are written and audio publications to meet your area(s) of interest.
- It seems almost every book ever published can be found on Amazon!
- Kindle books are also a great alternative to hardcover. I recommend the Kindle Paperwhite model. It’s waterproof, includes twice the amount of storage than previous models and best of all, it can be read indoors AND outdoors! You can read more about kindle models here.
- Library books on Kindle – did you know that you could read your local library’s books on Kindle – for free?
- Amazon’s Alexa products can be used to read books via Audible.com and Kindle eBooks as well.
Update: Audible.com just made today (March 23, 2020) hundreds of their books available for FREE – so their library of free books has increased significantly. Check out the article on this topic here.
Connecting With Others
- Amazon’s Echo Show is a great way to keep in touch with a video screen. The thing is you can only connect to someone that has an Echo Show as well.
- If you have an apple iphone then you can certainly use Facetime with other iphone users who also have the Facetime app.
- For us android phone users you can use Google Duo, Skype or WhatsApp for video conversations. You can read more about them here.
- If you don’t mind using your computer or laptop for video calls you can use Zoom (free for 40 minute calls).
- Know’s a great time to get in touch with long lost friends and acquaintances! Call them, or you can take some time to search for them on Facebook or even to Google them!
Games and Puzzles
There are many types of games that you could play with your senior loved one and hopefully they will want to play with you. (My mother hated games so this was not an option for us!) I would just recommend to be aware of the mental acuity and physical dexterity that your senior loved one has. You don’t want him/her to get frustrated just because they aren’t able to play the game.
- Card games
- Classics like Chess or Checkers or Monopoly or Clue Retro Edition
- If you have the Nintendo Wii system there are many games that senior adults may love
- Agingavenues.com has a nice list of different video games to play with older adults
- Book games – these days there are a variety of book games like Sudoku, word puzzles, brain teasers and more.
- Adult coloring books – my mother loved doing these and spent many hours working on them. She had a good eye for color!
Arts And Crafts
My mother was a master at knitting and crochet and we would always encourage her to keep up with that activity. Although there are many arts and crafts types of projects that can be done, when doing these with older adults it’s important to tap into what their past experiences have been, what they have enjoyed doing in the past, etc. Activities don’t make any sense for older adults if it only ends up serving to frustrate them.
- Craft kits – there are many different types but this Craft Crush one may be fun for everyone.
- Artsy type of kits – for those of you who have an artistic flair (I don’t have an ounce of it) there are many kits like this string art one that may be fun.
- Wood craft kits – for those who like to work with wood pieces and reminisce a bit
- Lego – today’s Lego’s are not what we grew up with, that’s for sure! The Lego company has begun creating a series of products for seniors – which is so cool!
- Youtube has lots of videos on arts and craft ideas to do with older adults. Here’s an example of one.
Many older adults enjoy gardening and it’s certainly something that many can do whether they live in a home or an apartment. The trick is to make sure that it’s a safe activity. You can read about my recommendations on how to make gardening safer for your senior loved ones in my article on Senior Gardening Tips – Making It Easy And Safe.
- For small, indoor gardening
- Walk in greenhouse – if you have the yard space and want to have your own greenhouse – this is an inexpensive way to do it!
- Seeds to plant – there are so many different varieties of things that you could plant to garden – the list is endless
There are always activities / tasks to be done in and around your home. These days you may be home more than not – so now’s the time to catch up on all those things you’ve been meaning to do but just never found the time to do them. Yes, I know – you need the motivation to do them as well but that’s another article!
- Declutter your living spaces – we all collect stuff but don’t give away much stuff. So, get to the task of cleaning out your home of the things you don’t want and/or don’t need any longer.
- Organize your photos – maybe you want to put your photos in an album or online or on a flash drive or just organize them in a box. It’s also a good time to get rid of all those photos of trees and rocks and landscapes that have no people in them and you can’t remember where that picture of that was.
Now may also be a good time to put your photos on “digital”. You don’t have to discard your old photos, but preserving them on a “backup” either on a flash drive, hard drive or online would be a good idea.
- Cooking with your family – one of the things my late husband and I used to love to do was to cook a meal together. It was a great way to spend some time with each other. You can work on a new recipe, learn to make something new or work together to make your family’s favorites.
- Feeding the critters – whether you can feed birds, squirrels, chipmunks or deer – if you live in an area where you can provide food for these creatures then you can sit back and enjoy the time of watching them! I know my cats are loving the bird feeder that I put out!
- Build a computer – for those of you who want to explore computers (and maybe robotics) – there are many kits available to do just that!
- Adopt a pet – it may seem counterintuitive to take on caring for a pet if you are a caregiver for a senior loved one (one more thing to do kind of thinking) but the truth is, the right kind of pet can bring alot of joy and love into a home. So, give it some consideration.
- Start a blog – these days, blogging is so much more than just journaling. I personally think every family should have a blog. It’s a great way for everyone to write down their stories, store photos, events, etc. Imagine having your grandparents’ stories written down on a blog and maybe adding a video of them or audio clip of them telling the story!
- Pamper yourself – most seniors don’t take too much time to really pamper themselves! You can create your own spa day complete with facials, manicures and pedicures, gentle massages and even a little meditation!
- Tea time– begin a new tradition and start a daily “tea time” which I believe traditionally is at 4 pm. You can even take it a step further and “dress up” for it!
What Activities Are Good For Seniors?
It may be difficult to assess, in a general term, what activities are good for older adults. After all, every person has different capabilities, different likes and dislikes and different past experiences.
So, in my honest opinion, the best activities are ones that the person can participate in (with minimal frustration) and one that they enjoy. Here are some examples:
- Walking – if your senior loved one can walk without great difficulty or pain and for a good distance than I would say that taking a walk around the neighborhood would be a good activity. During this time when Coronavirus is still very active – please keep 3 to 6 feet away from others.
- Useful tasks – everyone likes to feel useful and productive. Anything that your older adult can do to contribute to the running of the household would be a good activity. It could be cooking, watching the kids, cleaning, paying the bills, handyman type of tasks, etc.
- Passion activities – most everyone has something that they enjoy. Music, art, movies, games, sports, etc. Any task or activity around that topic that they enjoy would be a very good activity to participate in either solo or with others in the family.
- Exercise – for many seniors – exercise can be difficult. But most everyone can do chair exercises. There are many Youtube videos on these types of exercises and I would encourage you to pull up Youtube on your TV (if you can) and start working out!
We all hope that the shelter in place policies that are now becoming more and more prevalent throughout the world will end soon but I fear that it will take several months. Many states here in the USA still have not come on board and without federal guidelines – each state is just “doing their own thing.”
It’s a crazy and very unpredictable time for all of us – but I sincerely hope that you and your families can stay safe and healthy throughout the course of these events.