‘Tis the season to stay warm, safe, and healthy – especially for our older population. The combination of navigating the cold winter months with an ongoing pandemic requiring social distancing can create extra challenges for those looking to engage the elderly.
Here are some ideas of stimulating indoor activities for seniors that can be safely carried out alongside a caregiver or family member:
- Local road trips to popular in-town destinations can be a welcome distraction from being indoors all the time. By staying in the car, you both will technically still be “indoors” so you can stay warm while wearing masks to keep you both safe. Take time to enjoy the beautiful scenery, or drive by and explore popular tourist destinations during the off-season when crowds are nonexistent.
- Look for virtual museum exhibits as well as virtual tours of destinations around the world. Many museums offer senior discounts or even free admission for seniors. Bring the mysteries of the world right to your loved one’s living room through exploring these online educational opportunities together.
- Help your senior plug in to a YouTube channel or streaming show that matches their interests or helps expand their knowledge in a particular area. They may even want to sign up for an online class via Zoom. Encourage them to broaden their horizons beyond the four walls of their home!
- Design a daily or weekly workout routine that’s customized to their preferences, fitness comfort, and energy level. It could be as simple as going up and down the stairs a few times a day, or as strenuous as using a stationary bike. Yoga might be another ideal winter exercise since it helps to strengthen bones and minimize hypertension.
- Scrapbooking can be an excellent and creative way to help seniors struggling with memory issues. As they look through old photos or mementos during the assembly process, they will be stirring up old memories and creating a meaningful collection.
- Those who enjoy sewing could pick up a fabric craft, which engages individuals both physically and mentally and offers the additional bonus of providing something to wear or use for decoration once the project is done.
- Get busy in the kitchen! You can help the senior as much as is needed, but let them do some of the actual cooking or baking whenever possible. This will give them a sense of satisfaction and help them brush up on cooking skills.
- Planting and caring for an indoor garden can be very therapeutic for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia, as it gives them a sense of purpose. They don’t need a lot of space; even growing an amaryllis can be fun and rewarding.
- Board games are a standard staple during winter weather. Classics such as checkers, chess, or card games help keep the brain healthy by encouraging critical thinking. Bingo is of course another favorite among seniors, and can be played with a small group or even just with the two of you.
- Trivia games are another excellent way to encourage recall and memory skills. You can purchase trivia books and quiz each other!
- Though not all seniors enjoy video games, those who do will benefit from improvement to short-term memory, motor control, and spatial awareness, among other cognitive functions.
Once COVID-19 restrictions are no longer needed, the list of engaging indoor winter activities for the elderly will get even longer. In the meantime, the above suggestions are suitable even during our current pandemic guidelines to stay at home or be socially distanced as much as possible. Ask the seniors in your life what their interests are, get creative, and have fun!!