It’s important for older Australians to stay mentally and physically active as they age. After all, the older we get, the more free time we seem to have on our hands – so it’s as good a time as any to begin a new hobby!
If you work in aged care, you will already understand the importance of keeping an older person’s mind and body active. Strategy games and puzzles can help prevent diseases like dementia, while creative pursuits like painting can help people relax. Physical activities, such as swimming, can provide elderly Australians with a safe exercise routine that will keep their bodies healthy.
If you’re trying to find recreational activities or organise some fun events for elderly people, then read on to find out what our top suggestions are.
Swimming is thought to be the best form of exercise for seniors, because it can help strengthen core muscles. Water workouts are also much more beneficial for elderly people who suffer from arthritis, as there is no unnecessary pressure on the joints.
A water aerobics class is also a great group activity seniors can participate in with other people of the same age.
Maybe this sounds like an obvious choice, but walking with friends can be a hugely beneficial activity for elderly people. It’s a great excuse for them to get outdoors and stretch their legs, while also socialising with other people. This OC blog mentions the importance of social interaction for elderly people.
There’s no need for them to exert themselves unnecessarily, either. The whole point is to get outside, enjoy the great outdoors, get some fresh air, and spend time with friends. The best part is, they can happily stick to their local area. Even a leisurely stroll around the block is enough.
Getting out and about can be helpful in relieving stress; but what if you know an elderly person who is unable to due to mobility issues, or other reasons? The answer to this question could be gardening.
Gardening can be a therapeutic way to improve general mental wellbeing. It’s been proven again and again that greenery can have a very positive impact on people’s mental health.
And even if they don’t have a green thumb, there are plenty of nigh unkillable house plants out there on the market – such as succulents, air plants, or peace lilies.
Looking after a pet
A recent study showed a marked improvement in cognitive function and a decrease in levels of depression when elderly people were given a pet to look after. The study didn’t give the seniors in this group a cat, or a dog, or even a fish to look after – instead, they gave them crickets to care for.
So even though the pet in question wasn’t a cute, cuddly fur baby, just having a living creature to look after has been proven to have a positive effect on people’s mental wellbeing.
If you know an older person who doesn’t like sitting still for too long, then dancing is a great way to stay active. It’s also a brilliant excuse to interact with other people and have fun.
Dancing can help keep both your mind and body active. Obviously, you have to move your body to actually dance – but memorising choreographed steps can also help to keep your mind active as it forces you to think; and this in turn can help lower the risk of dementia.
Speaking of keeping one’s mind active, board games are a great way to do this.
Most board games involve a strategy of some kind, and require you to plan ahead and try to outmanoeuvre your opponents – in the name of fun, of course!
Alternatively, games like Bingo don’t require a strategy, but they do require you to be alert as you listen out for the winning numbers!
Card games are another great way for seniors to keep their minds active while also meeting up with friends.
Jigsaw puzzles, just like board games, come in a range of different difficulty levels depending on skill.
You can find jigsaw puzzles that are made especially for seniors, which have larger, easier to find puzzle pieces.
There is something immensely satisfying about finishing a large jigsaw puzzle and seeing your completed work laid out before you.
The ultimate strategy game! Did you know that chess has a history dating back almost 1500 years? It first originated in India before it began to grow in popularity throughout the rest of the world.
This is one of the best ways for seniors to help keep their minds active, as chess involves problem solving, critical thinking, and strategy planning.
It’s also incredibly popular, so finding a partner to play with shouldn’t be too hard!
But if chess isn’t their thing, there are also games like checkers, go, or shogi which require you to flex those same brain muscles.
Crosswords and sudoku
One of the best ways to prevent dementia and to keep the mind active is by doing word or number puzzles.
Best of all, these puzzles are easily accessible. You can buy puzzle books at the newsagent, you can find free puzzles in the newspaper, or, if you know a particularly tech-savvy senior, they can download an app and complete puzzles on their phone or tablet.
Painting or drawing can be a fantastic way for people to express their ideas and emotions. It’s also a great way to improve hand-to-eye co-ordination, and can boost cognitive function as it encourages people to think creatively.
Painting or drawing can often be a very relaxing and therapeutic pastime, which can work towards boosting one’s mood and general mental wellbeing.
Did you know that reading a book is an effective way to decrease stress levels? It can even be more effective than traditional stress coping mechanisms, such as listening to music or drinking a nice, hot cup of tea.
For seniors, it can be a good way to distract the mind and pass time. It’s also a good way to improve memory, expand their vocabulary, and hey – they could learn something new!
Some seniors may have trouble reading a small font. If this is the case, they could always invest in an eReader (such as a Kindle or a Kobo), which will allow them to adjust the size of the font. Make it as big or as small as needed.
We hope this list has given you some great ideas to start with for organising enjoyable activities for seniors. Of course, it’s very important to take into consideration such thing as physical fitness, limited mobility, illness, and mental ability, but we hope it’s provided you with some fun, new ideas.
If you’re interested in studying Aged Care support, you can check out Open Colleges’ on-campus Certificate III in Individual Support which is available at our Western Australia and South Australia campuses.
Find out how you can empower the lives of older Australians today and study with OC.