Curb Your Loved One's Boredom: 15 Activities for Assisted Living Residents
It’s a five-letter word no one ever wants to hear. “I’m….BORED!” And it’s not just small children who suffer from boredom; it can happen to all of us -- including seniors. Older adults get bored, too. Counter boredom by engaging in activities with your loved one.
Start by understanding and honoring your aging loved one’s interests and limitations to help you identify the most manageable tasks. Once you fully understand what your loved one enjoys doing, choose from these 15 fun and fulfilling ways that will help your aging loved one banish boredom and celebrate life!
1. Art Works
Research in the area of the arts has shown that creative tasks, such as drawing, painting, knitting, woodworking, or beading can help increase concentration and focus. They can even promote a calm, meditative state. While some creative art supplies can be expensive, look for items that are affordable, simple to store and no trouble to transport. Depending on your loved one’s space and abilities, encourage them to experiment with their creativity, using different mediums. Collages, knit scarves, beaded bracelets, woodcrafts, watercolors, and other artistic projects can relieve boredom for days.
2. Know When to Hold 'Em
More likely than not, your parents have played plenty of card games throughout their lives. Come to think of it: they'd probably love to play a hand or two right now. But playing cards is not just recreational: research suggests that this hobby can actually improve motor and cognitive skills. In fact, some studies have indicated that games such as cards can help head off dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
3. Tech Talk
Many older adults have a fear of technology, and the truth is, they're unlikely to learn without some encouragement and patience from you. Pick a time to sit down with your parent to explain how to use popular devices and apps. From video chatting with grandkids and researching your family history to playing memory-enhancing games, learning how to use a tablet, laptop or smartphone can have a transformational effect on your loved one’s quality of life.
4. Walk It Out
Walking delivers all sorts of physical, emotional and health benefits, and yet many people -- particularly older adults -- avoid physical activity. Even if your loved one puts up a fuss about getting out and about, don’t let him/her off the hook so easily. You’re almost guaranteed to hear afterwards, “That was fun!” The next time your loved one complains about boredom, lace up those shoes and go. You don't have to go far, but a simple change in scenery can go a long way.
5. Try Some Tunes
The enjoyment and appreciation of music is particularly effective in enhancing mood, especially for many older adults. Compile a playlist of your loved one's favorite songs and artists. Then, sit down together and listen. This playlist can be played and enjoyed whenever boredom strikes. Encourage loved ones who enjoy singing or have studied an instrument to play some music of their own.
6. Baking Bliss
While a trip to the orchard for apple picking may no longer be practical, older adults can still enjoy nature’s amazing bounty during this time of year. From muffins and crisps to pies and jellies, there are endless ways to enjoy apples in autumn. Whether your aging loved one has a favorite fall treat or you want to try your hand at something new.
7. Go Leaf Peeping
If your aging loved one is mobile, a stroll on a sunny fall morning or afternoon amidst the changing leaves can work wonders for the body and soul. Seniors with mobility limitations don’t have to miss out on the foliage fun, though. A paved, accessible walking trail is a great way to enjoy changing leaves, especially if your loved one uses a walker or wheelchair. A scenic car ride also offers all of the pleasures of leaf peeping while minimizing physical effort.
8. Get Crafty
While you’re out on your adventures, don’t forget to bring home a few specimens for creative crafting. Crafting is simple, stress-free way to spend an afternoon. If your aging loved one is up to a bigger challenge, a quick Google search yields a plethora of ways to incorporate the outdoors into crafting. (Conversely, if your aging loved one is easily overwhelmed, a simple scrapbooking activity can offer pleasurable payoffs.)
9. Decorate Your House
Even if it's not yet time for holiday decorations, there are still plenty of ways to make your aging loved one’s living space festive all year round. From harvest-inspired adornments like gourds and hay bales to bright spring flowers, have fun planning and decorating together. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, why not paint your own art while you're at it?
10. Schedule a Family Photo Shoot
You’ve seen all those beautiful multigenerational family photos on Facebook. Why not schedule one of your own? Fall offers the perfect natural backdrop for an unforgettable family photo. Your aging loved one will enjoy participating in the festivities, along with the keepsake photo. If you can't afford a professional, ask a family friend along to capture the moment.
11. Plan a Picnic
Nothing says “fun” quite like a picnic. Pack up a few of your loved one’s favorite foods (and plenty of drinks to stay hydrated), drive to a nearby park, and enjoy lunch together in a nice shady spot. If a picnic table makes for difficult dining accommodations, bring along some folding chairs instead.
A deck, a patio, or a courtyard can also make for the perfect picnic spot if your loved one’s mobility is limited. If your loved one is not able to venture out, consider bringing the picnic to him instead! Unpack the picnic basket, throw open the windows, and invite your dining companion to share some favorite picnic memories.
12. Rediscover Their Roots
In the garden, that is. Gardening holds a myriad of benefits for people of all ages -- from delivering a sturdy dose of vitamin D to promoting movement and independence. Encourage your loved one to rediscover their green thumb. Older seniors with limited mobility can enjoy the garden too, thanks to easy-access container gardens.
If you’re constantly urging your aging loved one to eat better, a garden has additional benefits: fresh vegetables provide great options for quick and easy summer side dishes. Try putting together a tomato and cucumber salad or steaming/grilling summer squash or string beans.
13. Get Lost in a Good Book
When was the last time you or your aging loved one took time out to read a bestseller? This summer, form a book club for two by selecting a title you both want to read and working through a chapter together every time you visit. If your loved one enjoys reading on his own, but finds reading a bit difficult due to vision limitations, consider an audio book instead!
14. Go For a Swim
For those warmer days take your loved one for a swim! If your loved one hasn’t been swimming in a while, he may feel some anxiety about this one. The rewards are manifold, though: taking a swim can bring back the exhilarating feelings of childhood while offering a low-impact form of exercise. Just be sure to check in with your loved one's physician before heading to the pool. Also, many YMCAs and community centers hold dedicated senior swim hours which can be more comfortable than busier open swim sessions.
15. Take Them Out to the Ballgame
While a trip to a major league ballpark may be a significant undertaking, there are plenty of smaller scale options which offer equal fun for seniors. From minor league games to your local little league fields, your aging loved one will enjoy the chance to experience America’s favorite pastime. If baseball isn't their favorite sport figure out what is and suprise them with a trip to watch one of their teams play.
Fortunately, the joys of these activities aren’t just for your aging loved ones, invite your whole family along too! With the help of these 15 suggestions, seniors can get in on some fun activities with the whole family.
About Chelsea Sayegh
I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!
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.