Staying active is research proven to extend anyone’s quality of life. So what better way to enjoy your aging loved one than participating in senior activities as a family.
Scheduling activities and keeping aging loved ones engaged brings joy to seniors and loved ones alike. It’s the best way to help maintain a senior’s joy for life, particularly if your loved one is beginning to experience limited mobility or needs more opportunities to get out. Bringing enjoyable activities into his or her living area, or to any location that will be appropriate, can provide a significant boost to physical and emotional health.
We’ve prepared this list of six family activities to enjoy with your senior loved one. Choose the ones that you feel will be best suited for your situation, and then use the list to inspire new ideas in the future.
Use each new experience to find activities that create a fun and enjoyable family moments with your aging loved one.
Just visiting with others – socializing, sharing memories, laughing – can be powerfully engaging moments. The impact of a quick visit can be especially powerful for seniors who have only limited social interaction, either outside the home or in the senior residence. It’s an opportunity to get out and interact with different people, which is almost always stimulating.
The visiting sessions can either be at your loved one’s residence, in your home, or in a place, like a park or a coffee shop. The ability to engage with people outside a loved one’s daily circle can be stimulating and give them a feeling of connectivity with the outside world.
Sharing a Movie or Music
Few things trigger memories like movies and music. Many of us mark notable moments in our lives with films and songs.
Sharing time over a simple movie, actor, album, or musician that is familiar can be a very comforting way to spend time with a loved one. Be mindful to pick films and music that fit their generation and preferences. Newer movies and music can either be wholly unfamiliar or even frustrating to someone who is unfamiliar with the latest trends. Even the younger members of your family are sure to enjoy the smiles on their loved one’s face as they reminisce through some golden oldies, even if they’re not exactly their cup of tea.
Favorite movies or music selections from early in your loved one’s life can be very uplifting, especially if you take the time to appreciate the work. Not only can you watch and listen, but you may also want to reserve some quiet time afterward to discuss the subtler points of the movie or the music, and particularly your loved one’s favorite parts, or the memories they inspire.
Getting out into nature has a way of connecting us with the bigger world, no matter our age. But if your loved one spends most of her time indoors, it can be especially refreshing and stimulating.
Naturally, you’ll have to take physical limitations into consideration. If you enjoy cross-country biking or hiking in the mountains, you’ll have to tone it down. A drive through a state or national park, perhaps accompanied by lunch in a picnic area, may be more appropriate.
If any degree of physical activity will be involved, make sure to accommodate the limitations of your loved one appropriately. For example, if you want to go walking in a park or on the beach, make sure the area is easily accessible, level, and free of obstacles. You’ll also have to make sure the weather is pleasant. Seniors often have difficulty adjusting to extremes of either heat or cold.
Creative Activities and Crafts
No matter what age or memory capacity your loved one may be at, creative pastimes are great ways to engage him or her in a group activity.
Creative expression has the potential to improve focus, and even bring out what the person may be feeling on the inside. Perhaps best of all, there are no rules. Your loved one will be free to go in whatever direction he or she chooses, without fear of “getting it wrong.”
There are probably more opportunities in this activity than in any other. You’re limited only by your imagination.
Some examples might include:
- Painting – Even a paint by numbers kit can be an excellent way to engage a senior who has never painted before. Of course, you can also go with complete free-form painting, especially if it’s an activity that your loved one has enjoyed in the past.
- Putting together scrapbooks – This is not only a creative activity that you can do as a group, but it can also be a way of helping to recall pleasant life memories.
- Jigsaw puzzles – Even if you or your loved one have never participated in this activity in the past, it’s surprising how engaging it can be when it’s a group project. Even if the puzzle is relatively complicated, your loved one doesn’t have the burden of having to put it together themselves. Since it’s time-consuming, you can come back to it again and again to create a regular activity.
- Ceramics – This can get a bit messy, so it may be best to do it at an art shop that specializes in ceramics. However, it’s a great opportunity to be creative in a medium that’s also tactile. The added benefit is that your loved one can bring his work home, to enjoy it and the memory far into the future.
Nearly all of us have a need to be needed, and one way to accommodate this desire in a senior who may have been out of the workforce for many years is by doing volunteer work. It’s a way for your loved one to not only feel useful but also to get out and interact with people. What’s more, the ability to help someone in even the smallest way can provide a big emotional boost.
One of the advantages of volunteer work is that there’s no job too small. Even a senior with minimal capacity may be able to handle light duties, such as checking people into an event, laying out place settings, or providing information.
Like all the activities on this list, it’s always best when it’s a shared event between you and your loved one, and any other friends or family members willing to participate.
Exercise is stimulating to the mind, body, and spirit. You’ll naturally have to make it appropriate to your loved one’s age and condition. Sometimes it can be just a light walk outdoors. But you can also consider other activities, like yoga, light stretching exercises, or even certain forms of dance.
Keep it light and short, especially at the beginning. But if your loved one enjoys it, making it a regular activity can be fun and provide health benefits as well.
Final Thoughts on Family Activities to Enjoy with Seniors
The six activities listed in this article are just a starting point for the many possibilities for enjoyable senior activities. You can try them all, and eventually, begin to focus on the ones your loved one likes best. Regular participation in activities that involve either physical activity, interacting with others, or being creative, can enhance any senior’s quality of life in ways no medication can. The added benefit is that the experience will enrich your own life and family.
Life Enrichment at The Kensington Falls Church
The Kensington Falls Church community experience is full of opportunities for our residents to stay active and engaged on a daily basis.
A typical week at The Kensington will include activities such as local outings to enjoy special dining and shopping experiences, a variety of art and building workshops, and fascinating seminars taught by local professors and experts.
Take a look at what’s on the agenda this month on our Life Enrichment page.
Better yet, schedule a visit to The Kensington Falls Church and experience these activities first-hand.