The days when bingo and birthday celebrations were the social highlight for seniors in assisted living, thankfully have long since passed. Many communities nowadays offer a well-rounded menu of activities that can keep seniors engaged and stimulated, no matter how diverse the interests and abilities. Here’s a rundown of just some of the activities for elderly people that you can find in senior living communities and beyond.
1. Group Exercise Classes
Group exercises, like yoga, Tai Chi or Feldenkrais, are fun and social ways to improve flexibility and balance, key to helping prevent falls in older adults. Some communities offer chair exercise classes, and others, water aerobics programs, which can appeal to seniors living with arthritis.
The elder in your life may not be able to shoot baskets anymore, but Nintendo’s Wii interactive computer games, where you move your body instead of pressing buttons or using a joystick, offer a nice alternative. There are a variety of games the sports-minded senior can play, including bowling, tennis and golf and the aforementioned basketball.
3. Walking Clubs
Walking around the community is an easy way for a senior to keep active, and when done with others it’s a good avenue to making friends. Some communities even arrange transportation so that club members can walk in a nearby park or walking path.
4. Gardening Clubs
Gardening is a super way to get outdoors and stay active and connected to others. Digging in the dirt and planting and weeding can help seniors relax and unwind; not only that, they get to reap the benefits of their labor: beautiful flowers or tasty veggies.
5. Book Clubs
If the elder in your life is an avid reader, then chances are they’d love the opportunity to share their opinion about a book with others. Not only do book clubs support seniors in staying sharp, mentally alert and in touch with the world, they also have a huge social element.
6. Life Story Exercises
There may be no more meaningful activity for elders than capturing their own unique life story, either in written form or by gathering their photos and mementos together in a scrapbook -- not only do they preserve a slice of history, they get the chance to reflect on their own life experiences.
7. Lectures and Continuing Ed Classes
Expanding one’s knowledge base is a sure-fire way to keep mentally alert and engaged. To facilitate this, some communities provide on-site lectures or continuing ed classes while others arrange for residents to take advantage of the academic and cultural offerings of nearby colleges.
8. Art Classes
For seniors who have worked hard all their lives just to make a living, retirement can open the door to a newfound creativity. Watercolor and acrylic painting as well as drawing and sketching are all high on the list of artistic expression, and making art in a group can be an enjoyable way to engage with others.
9. Pottery/Ceramics Classes
Crafts like pottery or ceramics are also high on the activity agenda of assisted living communities. Shaping wet clay into allows seniors an outlet for their creativity and provides a stimulating hands-on learning opportunity that can be perfect for those with low vision.
10. Jewelry Making
Making necklaces or bracelets is another fun craft that can help seniors improve fine motor skills and provide an outlet for creativity -- plus participants get the bonus of wearing, gifting, or even selling the beautiful items they create.
What can be more rejuvenating for an older adult than making or listening to music? Senior living communities incorporate music into the lives of residents in many ways. Not only do they bring in musicians for on-site concerts, they encourage seniors to make their own music through singalongs or karaoke.
12. Music Therapy
Music has an undeniable healing power, but especially for those who live with dementia. Some assisted living communities, in particular those devoted to memory care, bring in trained music therapists to entertain and provide small-group cognitive stimulation. In some communities, seniors with a history of musicianship can even participate to provide entertainment or music therapy activities for their friends and neighbors.
13. Pet Therapy
Rubbing a dog’s belly can make many of us feel all warm and fuzzy, and it’s particularly comforting to those who gave up pets when they moved into assisted living. Pet therapy programs which bring dogs to snuggle with seniors can fill the gap.
Although there’s plenty to do inside a senior living community, many seniors love the chance to attend events in the greater community. To accommodate this, assisted livings take seniors on day trips to museums, concerts and sports games as well as planning seasonal trips like viewing holiday lights before Christmas.