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COVID-Safe Wintertime Activities for Seniors to Enjoy
Elizabeth Bemis

By: Elizabeth Bemis on December 8th, 2020

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COVID-Safe Wintertime Activities for Seniors to Enjoy

Independent Senior Living  |  senior living nutrition  |  senior living homes  |  Aging & Caregiving  |  dependent senior living

While the pandemic wages on and we edge closer to one full year of the often overwhelming threat of COVID-19, some things remain steady as ever—like the clockwork transition from one season to the next. As the onset of blustery, cold weather kicks into high gear, many seniors and their loved ones are challenged to maintain a strong focus on safety and social distancing, all without succumbing to the potentially harmful effects of social isolation, cabin fever and boredom.

In truth, the carefulness warranted to counteract the dangers of the virus have left many seniors feeling the monotony of daily life during a pandemic. And winter’s sometimes gloomy outlook can bring fresh concern from older adults and their loved ones. But even though things look quite a bit different than they used to, there’s still plenty of opportunity for seniors to engage their spirits and enjoy the season. 


So let’s get a little creative and spark some wintertime fun. Check out the following COVID-safe winter activities to help foster enthusiasm and engagement for yourself or the senior in your life.  


Look to the Stars


Winter solstice occurs when one of the Earth's poles has its maximum tilt away from the Sun. This happens in December of each year, bringing the shortest day of sunlight to the Northern Hemisphere. Long winter nights, particularly those with clear skies, can be some of the best times to partake in the awe and wonder of stargazing. 


In fact, winter skies are home to some of the brightest stars. Constellations like Orion, Taurus and Canis Major are in full view. And because cold air holds less hazy moisture than summer air, this is a prime time for setting your sights on the stellar beauty of the night sky. Get into the fun by doing a little astronomy homework, and be sure to bundle up before you head out to explore.  


Put a Pot On


Balance your outdoor excitement with a cozy indoor experience that’s sure to bring new meaning to the term “comfort food.” Winter is a great time to experiment with new recipes for satisfying soups and stews. From traditional options like chicken noodle soup and beef stew, to more adventurous selections like white bean, butternut squash, split pea or carrot ginger, there’s an array of choices to try out. 


Of course, it’s important to keep senior nutrition in mind, including special attention to avoid excess salt and sugar. Even so, there’s plenty of fun to be had playing with different ingredients to serve up a warm winter concoction of your choosing. Need extra instruction or inspiration? Check out an online video or virtual course on the art of soup-making.


Get into the Glow 


Candles can be calming, sensual and mood-enhancing, and they’re often lit in winter to set an inviting atmosphere. But the benefits of candles go beyond the simple act of watching them glow. The practice of candle-making can be a fun, engaging and creative activity for seniors looking for something different to do over the next few months.


This activity only requires a few materials, including wax (paraffin, petroleum, beeswax, soy, gels or palm), a melting pot or old saucepan, glass jars, wicks cut to the appropriate size and essential oils for adding fragrance. You can find easy instructions online or watch a tutorial for a more visual learning experience. Just be sure to take proper safety precautions for dealing with an open flame and hot wax.


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Put Pen to Paper


According to AARP, studies show that the act of letter writing has tremendous benefits for both the writer and the recipient. “A paper published by Northern Illinois University's Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy states that, ‘Although extended letter writing is less common today, given the ease of text messaging and email for instant communication … letter writing can be seen as significant and consequential in people's lives, serving to maintain familial ties, communicate news and personal information, or resolve disputes.’” 


This winter, consider engaging with a pen pal (or a few) to keep the lines of communication open and have something to look forward to. It’s been said that the very act of writing can help improve memory function, decrease the symptoms of certain medical conditions and evoke greater feelings of happiness. This is a fun way to stay connected, start a new relationship and partake in the joy of writing and receiving.


Dig into Nature’s Delights


If you have a green thumb or fancy yourself a garden enthusiast, you don’t have to let the chilly weather put a damper on your endeavors. As a matter of fact, there are certain vegetables that actually taste better after being exposed to frost. These include varieties like kale, brussel sprouts and cabbage. 


Winter is also a great time to perform any necessary pruning of fruit trees, vines, deciduous shrubs and ornamental trees. And it’s the perfect opportunity to begin planning the new year’s blooms and harvests. Consider plotting out your garden spaces, ordering seeds and summer bulbs, and building your garden design.


Stretch it Out


The practice of yoga has long been known to help people manage stress and anxiety, improve flexibility and coordination, support mental clarity, increase strength and promote overall physical health. Often, when we think of yoga activities, we envision young, able bodies stretching and contorting in difficult positions. The truth, however, is that yoga can be practiced by people of all ages and abilities, and has become quite popular among the senior population in the form of chair yoga. 


An exercise that can be done sitting on a chair or standing on the ground while using the chair for support, this modified, gentler variety of yoga can be a great outlet for both physical activity and meditative needs over the cold winter months. If you’re a beginner, there are some basic chair poses, or “asanas,” you can look into trying. Consider signing up for a virtual class or accessing some literature to help you get started. 


Ultimately, staying engaged this winter is all about finding joy in new activities or bringing greater focus to long-held pastimes, all while practicing them safely. Particularly amidst the challenge of a global pandemic, many seniors and their families are finding that perhaps a senior living community that offers this type of ongoing engagement in a warm, home-like environment is the best option to meet their changing needs from one season to the next.

For additional tips on senior health and lifestyle issues, check out our blog. If you’re interested in learning more about United Methodist Homes senior living community, contact us today.


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About Elizabeth Bemis

In 1998, I drove past an assisted living community construction site, learned that it was part of United Methodist Homes and realized the next stop on my professional journey was to work for a mission driven organization. Soon after, I joined the team as Executive Director of our Middlewoods of Farmington community and later served as Regional Manager for the Middlewoods properties before accepting my current role as Vice President of Marketing, Promotions, and Assisted Living Operations. I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, reading, walking, and love working alongside our staff, residents, and families to build strong communities that reflect the mission, vision, and values of United Methodist Homes.

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.