There are many wonderful things that you can do with your family members – young and old – at home. Some may take a little creativity and perhaps even some products but in the end, it’s all about spending time with the ones you love.
Activities, especially fun and/or purposeful activities can help to promote mental health and well-being in seniors. Staying busy and active can be the best thing to fight off social isolation. Of course, the first thing I would recommend is socializing with your elderly loved ones.
A new hobby or something that involves some physical activity can go a long way in helping older adults to combat feelings of loneliness when they are in their own home.
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Our List Of Things To Do With Elderly Loved Ones At Home
This list of things to do includes 8 categories with a total of 59 different activities that you and your family can all enjoy! Of course, for any seniors with issues of cognitive decline, some activities will have to be modified to meet their skill levels.
You may also want to consider creating an Activity Calendar for your family.
1. Entertainment Via Television And Internet
I love movies so for me, it’s always a perfect time to find a good movie to watch. 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’s a great idea.
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.
- 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 – the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts their performances nightly. A friend of mine is holding a black tie and opera night with her family and will be watching an opera! I just love her creativity.
- YouTube – another great “channel” that many people (especially older people) don’t think of is Youtube! You can access it on a computer, laptop or tablet or even a smartphone. You can also view Youtube for free from a Roku or Firestick device on your television. 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 wonderful way that music can bring back memories for seniors, help with mental stimulation and just be a great source of enjoyment. Listening to music, singing along, and even dancing can be a great way to spend some quality time together. I personally use my Alexa devices to play music throughout my home most all day long. Also, check the free Zoom sing-a-long programs at Music Mends Minds.
2. Online Courses
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
- Music lessons by Debbie Pierce – contact her by phone or email on her website
- Build your self confidence course (and many others) from International Open Academy
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.
- Consider joining a book club, even if it’s online.
- Library books on Kindle – did you know that you could read your local library’s books on Kindle – for free?
- Don’t forget that your local library can also be a wonderful place to visit and spend some time at.
- 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.
4. Connecting With Others
- Amazon’s Echo Show is a great way to keep in touch. You can use it to make phone calls and you can also use it to video chat with someone else who also has an Echo Show device.
- 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 chats. 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).
- Now is 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.
5. 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 the fine motor skills that your senior loved one has. You don’t want him/her to have a difficult time with the game and get frustrated.
- Card games
- Classic board games 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.
- Jigsaw puzzles. There are many to choose from and this activity is a great way to relax.
- Kriss Kross Puzzle Books are my mom-in-law’s favorite!
- Adult coloring books – my mother loved doing these and spent many hours working on them. She had a good eye for color!
- Crossword puzzles. I would recommend large print crossword puzzles. Just makes it a bit easier to read and follow.
6. 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
Gardening outdoors is a fun way to work on improving your physical health but it can also be enjoyed even if the senior has mobility issues.
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.
- Learn a new language. It’s never too late to work on learning a new language.
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.
- Make some art. Art is a great way to express oneself and can be enjoyed at any level . There are many seniors who are very talented artists, and even those who aren’t can still enjoy the creative process.
- If you or your senior loved one has played a musical instrument and if they can continue doing that – it would be wonderful to encourage that.
- Have a conversation starters jar. This can be a simple mason jar with slips of paper inside that have questions or prompts written on them. When the senior feels like talking, they can choose a question from the jar and start a conversation with whoever is around.
- 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 new recipes, 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!
- Have a movie night. Pop some popcorn, make some snacks, and cuddle up with a good movie. This is a great way to spend time together and relax.
- Adopt a pet – it may seem counter intuitive 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 a lot 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!
- Spend time outside. Fresh air and sunshine are great for mental health. Even if it’s just a short walk around the block, getting outside can do wonders.
- 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!
- Get involved in the community. There are often many activities going on in the community that seniors can take part in. Getting involved is a great way to meet new people and stay active.
- 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!
- Celebrate a weird holiday. There are a ton of quirky holidays out there, such as Christmas in July or National Ding-A-Ling Day. Research the offbeat holidays that are happening currently (there is at least one every day!), then put together an activity to celebrate it.
I’m sure you can also come up with many other wonderful creative activities that both you and your elderly loved one can enjoy.
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.
- 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!
Did I List Enough Things To Do With Your Elderly Loved Ones?
I hope that this list of 44 different activities will inspire you to take some time to have some fun with the senior loved ones in your family!
If you have some suggestions on activities or projects – let us know by contacting us and we just might add them to this list.