In older age, it’s easy to fall out of regular activities.
With health conditions and social isolation affecting so many, pastimes that once provided so much pleasure can seem out of reach.
However, it’s vital to remain engaged in hobbies for as long as possible.
For those that don’t, elderly loneliness becomes a real possibility.
So, what kinds of activities can help older adults stay healthy and happy?
Let’s take a look.
For the bookworms among us, discussing our favourite novel in a group environment can be a pleasurable pastime. Whether that’s a murder mystery or science fiction extravaganza, there are sure to be others willing to discuss the hero’s journey your favourite protagonist.
Maybe you’ve always dreamed of writing a novel, or your inner Keats is waiting to break free? Liberating your hidden creative can be a joyful experience, especially when sharing your work in a group context. If you struggle with the thought of expressing yourself, perhaps you can build confidence by simply writing letters to friends and family or documenting your life experiences.
Whether we like it or not, technology plays a major role in modern life. Although this can be daunting for many older adults, it also provides a great opportunity. Not only can we communicate with loved ones across the world, but also access any information we find interesting, opening up a new world of education. Learning to use a smartphone or navigating a computer is often possible in libraries or local community centres.
Meditation has been shown to have numerous health benefits, from lowered stress and anxiety to improved immune system function. While learning techniques to observe our thoughts at any age is a vital skill, maintaining a sound mind and body is essential into older age to reduce the likelihood of chronic health conditions.
Fancy yourself a bit of a mastermind?! Exercises like crosswords and Sudoku are a great way to stay mentally sharp and agile. You can even sign up to some online brain training on smartphones or tablets, allowing you to keep track of your progress. Such activities may even help improve memory, attention and problem-solving!
Getting social with your preferred games not only helps to meet new people but can also spice things up with a little competition! Do you have a local bridge, chess you can join? Often interacting with a new group over a shared interest removes the pressure from the social situation, as you can simply focus on playing the game and having fun.
Do you know your Chaffinch from your Goldfinch? It may be time to get your binoculars out! Bird watching can be a lovely way of appreciating nature, especially if you suffer from mobility problems and struggle with more strenuous activities. It’s also a great way of exploring our local area, getting us out of the house and into local parks or woodland.
Who’s are on your next Christmas card list? Card making is a great way to put a personal touch on anything from birthday messages to festive greetings, allowing you to get creative and share inspiration with a group of friends.
If you want something a little more sedate and prefer to get creative instead, why not try knitting on for size? Not only can it improve mindfulness, hand-eye coordination and dexterity, but your creations can also make for great birthday gifts and stocking fillers!
Art provides a beautiful outlet for so many, helping to build happiness and confidence through self-expression. The effects of art on mental health and wellbeing have been analysed, showing just how important participatory arts can be for older people.
Humans are wired to tell stories, which have been used as a way to inform and entertain for centuries. Many older adults have led fascinating lives, and the ability to connect through shared experiences is a vital bridge to bring people together. Organised storytelling can do just that.
It’s said that ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. If you’re not as comfortable expressing yourself via the spoken word, photography can be an amazing alternative. These days, you don’t even need to heave around a heavy camera, with smartphones taking excellent images that can easily be shared with friends and family.
Perhaps you’ve always loved French but never had the time to commit to the beautiful language! The fact is, our brains adapt whatever our age, meaning you’re never too old to learn. There are in-person or online personal tutors to help you progress quicker, and if you’re really brave, you could even attend a language group to practice in the safety of other beginners!
Many of us have favourite songs from our younger years and listening to them can bring back a wave of pleasant memories. Music & Memory is a non-profit organisation that trains care professionals to compile playlists for care home residents. However, you can also select your own smash hits!
If you’re listening to some golden oldies, why not get stuck into some group karaoke and sing-alongs? Research shows that singing to music can provide both cognitive and social benefits, plus the opportunity to spend quality time with friends.
Fancy yourself as a budding Strictly Come Dancing contestant? If you’ve got some twist in those hips, dancing is a great way to exercise without even realising it! Plus the health benefits are evident, with a good old jive providing a sociable, inclusive activity to keep us motivated and moving for longer.
Exercise classes are one of the most important activities for elderly people. Older adults can suffer from a range of health conditions, from immobility to osteoporosis, where bones lose their density and strength. Joining classes to work on flexibility and function can help maintain independence for as long as possible while providing an excellent opportunity to meet other people.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the community and improve services in your area. A thriving local scene often relies on the selfless work of those giving their time, and as altruistic activities have been shown to provide many health and wellbeing benefits, it can be a great way of staying engaged.
Are there any local causes that could benefit from financial help? Organising fundraisers can be a fun way to bring the community together and work towards a shared goal. From bake sales to sponsored walks, getting creative is key to ensure that as many people as possible participate.
Men’s Sheds is a wonderful organisation aimed at older adults. Men can come together and work on upcycling any donations received, which can then be sold by the charity. If you’re a natural handyman and familiar with common household tools, this could be an excellent way to put your skills to good use.
Think you’ve got some artisanal flair? Woodcarving is an excellent, accessible activity, appropriate for anyone who can safely handle a cutting tool or chisel. You’ll be creating folk art, figure carvings and sculptural ornamentation for your loved ones in no time!
Gardens and allotments provide solace for many. Experiencing nature has been shown to have a range of health and wellbeing benefits, from reducing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stress. While older adults might struggle with heavier tasks in a working garden, simply spending more time outside will help.
Meetup is an excellent website which contains a broad range of community-led activities. Whether you’re into philosophical discussions or local history, there should be a group for you somewhere. You can easily browse by interests and most of the groups are free to attend.
Mirthy is committed to helping older adults come together and participate in their community.
We do this by working with care homes and residential organisations to provide activity-based workshops, day clubs and respite.
So if you or a loved one would like to meet new people or try something different, feel free to get in touch to see how we can help.