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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on August 25th, 2015

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Four Easy New Hobbies for Older Adults

Aging & Caregiving

Four Easy New Hobbies for Older Adults

From stress management to a sense of satisfaction, hobbies offer a multitude of benefits. However, for many older seniors, finding a new hobby is not usually at the top of the priority list.

Physical limitations, challenges with mobility, and struggles with vision or hearing often keep many aging adults from trying new things.

But before your aging loved one counts himself out, encourage him to re-consider. A new challenge, a broader social network, or a creative outlet can be just what they need to feel useful again and find new meaning and purpose in life.

Consider these four hobbies for older adults as a starting point for conversation:

1. Storytelling

While older adults have spent a lifetime collecting experiences and memories, they often have limited means through which to share them. A creative writing class not only offers seniors a forum for telling their stories, but also contributes to their legacies. While these stories might otherwise be lost, they become precious family heirlooms when captured on paper.

Enlist the help of a family member to help capture the stories, either on paper, or through a computer document. For caregivers, writing can be a meaningful form of self-expression, as well as a practical coping mechanism. If a family member is not available, check with your local library and inquire about volunteers who might be interested in helping with a life stories project. If your loved one lives in a senior living community, don’t hesitate to approach the staff and ask about such opportunities.

2. Explore the Arts

From sewing and painting, to cooking and dancing, there are endless forms of arts, crafts, and other hobbies that include plenty of opportunities to boost brain power and manual dexterity in the process. Many seniors suffer from a lack of stimulation, and creative hobbies can be both invigorating and inspiring. Looking for a few suggestions to offer an aging loved one? Try knitting, ceramics, baking, flower arranging, or woodworking. Finished projects can be donated, gifted to friends and family members, or sold for supplemental income.

Check out your local library, senior center, or community center to inquire about fine arts classes or lessons offered for older adults. A photography class may offer an opportunity to use modern technology for taking simple photos, while a voice lesson may be a great experience for an individual who enjoyed years of singing in a choir. Also, many adult education programs offer affordable classes for creative exploration, such as scrapbooking, cake decorating, or learning a foreign language.

3. How Does Your Garden Grow?

Gardening has been linked with extraordinary benefits, including enhanced self-esteem, improved heart health, increased physical strength, and better mental health. The combination of sun and soil is also believed to help regulate the immune system and keep allergies and asthma in check.

But that’s not all. One Australian study assessing the impact of various lifestyle factors on dementia determined that daily gardening constitutes the single biggest risk reduction for dementia -- a whopping 36 percent! Scientists attribute this to the fact that gardening activates a wealth of critical functions, including everything from sensory awareness to problem solving. Start small with a hanging plant, a container garden of annuals, or a small raised garden box with a few herbs and tomato plants. If healthier eating is on your agenda, gardening offers a great way to enjoy better nutrition with home-grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

4. Family Matters

Genealogy is an increasingly popular hobby for seniors, and the internet has opened new windows of opportunities for amateur genealogists who may be limited by mobility barriers or long distances. These types of projects can create something truly extraordinary: a gift that is passed down from generation to generation. An added benefit? For seniors with little technology experience, genealogy research can improve comfort levels with computers. Genealogy is also a perfect hobby for caregivers to enjoy with their loved ones.

Hobbies, whether new or old, can be done entirely on your own terms -- whether you have plenty of time on your hands or can spare just a few minutes a week. And while many hobbies require no advanced knowledge or special skills, they offer the potential to improve the quality of life of both caregivers and their aging loved ones.

Key Takeaways

  • Older adults derive a multitude of benefits from hobbies.

  • Regardless of an individual’s interests and/or abilities,  it's possible to find a hobby which offers both fun and fulfillment at any stage of life.

  • While you may not feel you have the time or energy to take on a new hobby -- or to help your aging loved one explore a hobby of his/her own -- doing so offers profound rewards.

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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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