As some will say, the best years begin after we hit 50 years old. Is it true, though? One of the greatest worries younger people have is ensuring that they are able to do everything they want to before old age hits.
It’s a drastic perspective, but it makes sense. Our bodies and minds begin to degrade as we age — especially if we don’t use them enough. But even the most active people can be sidelined by aging, whether it’s a degrading hip, a worn-out knee or a herniated disc.
Limited mobility shouldn’t hold a senior back from living their best life, though. There are more than enough stimulating activities that seniors can enjoy, even if they can’t be as active as they once were. Here’s 15 of our favorites, whether done on their own, with friends or with their grandkids:
One of the most stimulating games for seniors is basic brain games. Memory-based challenges can help seniors maintain and strengthen their mental faculties, which often degrades with little to no stimulation. Games can include crossword puzzles, sudoku, maze games, logic puzzles, solitaire, iPad games and more.
But games don’t have to be played alone. Whether you play with family and friends or online, you can effectively improve your mental strength. Games like checkers, chess, backgammon and common board games can do a lot to stimulate the mind.
Even if you can’t run like you used to, that shouldn’t stop you from getting outside. Walking can be as exceptional for regular health, as it helps burn calories, decrease blood pressure and reduce stress. And walking with a walker or cane shouldn’t stop you either.
If you do decide to go out for a slight walk, it’s recommended that you wear a medical alert bracelet. In the event of a medical emergency, the bracelet could protect you.
If you are caring for a senior family member living with dementia, you should ensure they have an Alzheimer's ID bracelet. In the event they wander, the bracelet can help inform strangers, EMS or law enforcement of their disease, keeping them safe.
Planting a garden can be incredibly calming: sifting through the soil, plunging little depths to plant your seeds, watering and weeding over the seasons and watching your plants come to life. That practice can be just as stimulating for a senior in need of an activity. It provides a calming activity that requires physical strength and mental patience. Best of all, it gives something to look forward to — seeing the fruits of your labor.
If you’ve ever wanted to get an education on a specific topic (or numerous), now is the time. Retirement is a great time to focus on further education, as it allows for untamed exploration unlike years past. And if you’re able to take a class in person, it will allow you to meet and interact with people from various ages, races, backgrounds and more.
If you enjoy meeting and helping people, there’s nothing as fulfilling as volunteering your time. Some seniors will especially appreciate this, as it allows them to give back to the communities they grew up in or have lived in for decades. Similar to getting an in-person education, you can equally meet new people. Seeing their faces and providing them with one-on-one help provides emotional vigor you can’t get from sitting at home.
The benefits of music for seniors cannot be overstated. Besides evoking great emotional responses, music can also help bring out specific memories, helping people recite their past in a vivid way. Moreover, former musicians can make the most out of playing music again, as it requires working a part of the brain that otherwise would go unused. That muscle memory recall can equally make for an excellent mental workout, keeping the mind feeling as stimulated as ever.
As has already been obvious, you don’t need to be physically active to make the most out of your later years. Besides being active, you should do everything you can to stay mentally stimulated. You can increase mental acuity by watching new movies, classic films and reruns of shows to brand new television shows. Newer media can help you to stay up on current events while watching old films will help you to retread your memory, placing specific events and thoughts as related to when you first saw it in theaters or on TV.
The hardest workout isn’t the best. In all truth, an overly strenuous workout can do more damage to the body than good. So don’t feel ashamed if you can’t run as fast as you once could when you were a teenager. Instead, a good bodyweight workout or light dumbbell exercises can be just as good for you.
Workouts can include doing some basic chair squats in your home and light crunches to speed walking around your block. Even stretching is great for your body. It’s a workout within itself, as you’re loosening your muscles while training them to become more limber. That flexibility is imperative in old age, as tightened joints can lead to accidents and injuries.
If you are heading out for a workout, always make sure to wear your medical ID or dementia medical bracelet. It could seriously help in the event of a medical emergency or disorientation while out in public.
Sometimes, the best mental activity for seniors is to think about the past. Writing about life can be exceptional, as it not only allows you to recollect your life and reflect on the various moments, but the physical activity of writing can be beneficial to your mechanical awareness.
If you find that you’re having trouble writing with a pen or pencil, transition instead to using a computer. If that isn’t comfortable for you, use an iPad (if you own one). And if that doesn’t work for you, consider investing in a speech-to-text program, which will allow you to still save your memories without having to write.
Birdwatching can be an excellent thing, even if your vision is impaired. It makes the adventure so much fun because it’s more focused on listening for bird calls and songs.
And if you’re hard of hearing, you can still participate — if your eyesight is good. In this case, you can keep a watchful eye out for birds in the trees and the sky.
It helps to get you up and active, too. If you have the ability to do so, you can walk through the woods by yourself or with a family member or friend to search for birds among the trees. Otherwise, you can get a suitable wheelchair and have a companion help wheel you outside.
You don’t even have to go to the woods to go birdwatching, either. If you happen to live by a wooded area, listen during the day and see what birds you can hear. Take the time to place a bird feeder outside of your home, too.
Talk about the spice of life. If you’re looking for something to do, consider putting more time into cooking and baking. You have to eat multiple times a day, so why not make the most of it. Try out new recipes or test your memory by making recipes from decades past.
If you’re worried about what you’ll be able to accomplish due to physical limitations, consider working with someone else — whether it’s a spouse, child, carekeeper or lifelong friend. Best of all, you can share your food with others once it’s finished, making the most of the work you put in.
A great thing you can do to stimulate your mind and body is to become committed to health. Beyond increasing your daily activities like stretching and doing short, low-stress workouts, you can also commit to refining your diet and daily choices. That can include reducing your sodium intake, lessening how much red meat you eat, cutting added sugar out of your diet, stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol and much more.
You’re bound to find that cleaning up your diet will make you feel better, both mentally and physically — from improving alertness to reducing joint pain.
A new pet can be quite the undertaking, but it could be just the thing a senior needs in their life, especially if they live alone. The companionship can breathe new life into the daily routine, having someone to watch over, take on walks, talk to, hug, cuddle, pet and love.
If you’re getting a dog or cat, it’s best to avoid getting a puppy or kitten, as they’re quite the handful. Instead, consider getting a trained adult or a senior, as both will emotionally and physically fit your needs, not needing as much strenuous exercise.
That new life can be something wondrous to someone who feels cooped up. However, you should ensure that you can handle the change in lifestyle, especially if you’ve lived without a pet for some time. A pet can be excellent to improve your daily energy, but you don’t want to take on something that will also feel like a burden.
As with other examples, there’s nothing better for the body and mind than pairing activities that stimulate both. Puzzles help provide just that, and they sure are a lot of fun to put together, too.
Starting out with a base image, you can pass the time by searching for the right piece, hunting it down to perfect your puzzle. And you don’t have to do it in deadening silence. Throw on a movie, listen to some music or turn on the radio to listen to a broadcast. That added noise will heighten the stimulation, promoting your brain to work on multi-tasking, all while allowing you to experience multiple things at once.
Take the time to pick up a hobby if you’re looking for a way to stay active with your hands. Creative hobbies are especially great as they help work a part of the mind that tends to go unused, especially among day-to-day tasks.
Hobbies can include painting, cross stitching, drawing, creative writing, poetry, woodworking, card making, bookbinding, doll making, miniatures and much, much more.
We all slow down as we age, and there’s no shame in not being able to physically accomplish what we once were able to. Make sure to include the limited-mobility seniors in your life, whether it’s with a game of chess or taking them out for a drive.
Planning on going out? Don’t forget to have them wear their medical alert bracelet or Alzheimer's ID bracelet. It could save their life in the event that anything happens and you’re not around to immediately help.