Finding fun, therapeutic activities for seniors to engage in can be difficult. It’s not uncommon for older adults to spend hours of the day with little stimulation, other than watching TV.
Seniors, even more than younger adults, need regular mental and physical stimulation. This will help prevent cognitive decline from diseases such as Alzheimer’s/dementia, and improve overall health and happiness.
Some seniors have functional limitations, making certain activities difficult or impossible. However, we at Complete Care have gathered a list of some of the most stimulating and therapeutic recreational activities, so hopefully, you’ll find a few that your elderly loved one can incorporate into their daily lives.
Forget about bingo – these pastimes will help develop social, physical and mental skills, while also being an opportunity for leisure.
Exercise is something that, unfortunately, many older people don’t do often enough. Normally, this is because of pain or other physical problems. However, physical activity doesn’t have to mean running a marathon; even something as simple as walking is better than nothing at all.
Here are some low-impact exercises for seniors:
- Sports like golfing or fishing.
- Strength training with very light dumbbells (~5lb) or objects like water bottles.
- Community classes, such as chair yoga or water aerobics.
Exercising can provide a whole range of benefits. These include a lower risk of depression, increasing energy, and helping to prevent insomnia.
2. Animal Therapy
Animals can help seniors who have trouble bonding with others. Whether it’s owning a pet or simply visiting and spending time with a dog, cat, or any other animal, this form of therapy has many benefits. These include:
- Fighting depression.
- Decreasing feelings of loneliness.
- Lowering blood pressure and stress.
- Improving motor skills.
Some retirement homes offer animal therapy as a service. If your loved one lives in a seniors residence, make sure to ask someone who works there. For a whole article on the benefits of pet therapy for seniors, click here.
3. Listening to Music
Music has been shown to stimulate cognitive function. In elderly people with dementia, listening to familiar songs from their youth may help bring back lost memories. In addition, listening to some relaxing, nostalgic tunes can help boost a senior’s mood, alleviating stress at the same time.
You could also have them attend live music, such as a piano recital, which has the added benefit of getting them out of the house. Music therapy has been getting more and more popular in recent years, and for good reason: it’s one of the best therapeutic activities for seniors.
4. Art Therapy
This is a simple form of therapy, but can be very effective for older adults, especially those afflicted with conditions such as Alzheimer’s/dementia. It allows for a form of communication other than verbal speech, providing a more visual and sensory way of expression. It also helps provide a general sense of well-being.
Some examples of art forms for seniors include:
If you’d like to read more about the benefits of art therapy, and how you can get started, click here.
5. Interactive Video Games
Physical video games are a well-known way to have fun, low-impact exercise at home.
Consoles like the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect rely on your body’s motion to control the action, leading to a workout that doesn’t feel like a workout. These games provide the mental stimulation that seniors need to stay healthy. They also help with coordination and balance, which are important for preventing falls.
Additionally, video games like these can help bridge the generation gap for seniors with grandchildren. Have them come over and join in on a game of virtual golf!
6. Brain Games
Activity books like crossword puzzles, word searches, colouring books, and sudoku are all therapeutic activities. They can help to relieve anxiety and deliver a sense of accomplishment for an elderly person.
Other options include board games, card games, or even online computer games. These can help a senior hone their memory retention, reflexes, and concentration, all while reducing stress and providing a fun time-killer.
For a full list of brain games you and your elderly loved one can try, click here.
7. Walking Clubs
Both a great activity for socializing and fitness, walking clubs are becoming very common in many communities. See if there are any available in your local area. Some clubs choose certain parks or nature paths for their walks, while others tend to stick to indoor locations for safety reasons.
Mall-walking is a popular activity, where seniors will stroll through a mall before the hours when the stores open. This is a great option, since it’s free, provides access to amenities like water fountains and restrooms, and is easy to join.
Even when arriving to the mall alone, your senior loved one can almost always expect to find a group of mall-walkers getting in their morning exercise.
8. Local Therapeutic Activities for Seniors
One great thing about Montreal is that no matter where you are or how old you are, there’s always something to do in the area. In fact, boroughs and cities on the island often have groups or clubs specifically designed for the elderly population.
Others provide more general amenities that anyone, seniors included, can enjoy, such as public parks, libraries, or shopping areas.
We have specific community pages for Westmount, Mount Royal, Hampstead, and Côte Saint-Luc. If your loved one lives in any of these areas, feel free to click the link to find its respective page. These include information on the best local activities for seniors in each city.
Having some fun in the kitchen can bring back happy memories, especially for seniors who love cooking or baking. For those with dementia, it provides a form of aromatherapy, as the delicious scents can boost their mood.
If your elderly loved one can join in on the process, all the better! If not, no worries. You can treat them to some home-cooked meals they don’t get to enjoy very often, or that bring them back to their childhood. If you aren’t chef-material, or you can’t be there in person, you could always consider hiring a caregiver who can cook.
This is something that’s great for just about everyone. Treat your loved one to a spa day, and let them enjoy a manicure, haircut, skin treatment, and other rejuvenating therapies. This doesn’t necessarily need to involve traveling too far, either: many retirement communities offer spa amenities and services.
The benefits to a day of pampering include a reduced feeling of stress, and an increase in relaxation.
11. Spending Time Outside
Exploring the great outdoors is the perfect way to spend an afternoon for you and your loved one. Not only does getting outside provide fresh air, exercise, and a change of scenery, but it can also be great for mental stimulation. If your loved one has an affinity for nature and wildlife, here are some fun activities you can consider:
- Visiting a botanical garden.
- Bird-watching at a park or nature area.
- Feeding ducks by the water.
- Gardening together.
- Having a picnic.
- Taking a boat ride on the lake.
There are plenty of great, therapeutic activities for seniors available all around Montreal. Try to choose some that suit you or your elderly loved one’s needs, interests, and physical capability.