All throughout our lives, we have to keep challenging our minds and bodies in order to stay healthy. This is especially true for seniors, who are in more immediate danger of physical and cognitive decline. Yet, if you want your senior loved one to stay active and emotionally healthy, you’ll have to find things for them to do that they will enjoy. If you can incorporate fun into their day, it will be easier to keep them involved.
- Tour Local Museums
Spending time visiting area museums with your senior loved one is a great way to stay fit for both of you. Walking around cultural, artistic, and historical museums will help you both get in some much needed exercise, while the exhibits will give you something to think about. Later, you can stop for lunch or dinner to discuss the things you saw in the museum. Contemplating the exhibits will engage you both in complex thought, which will stimulate your minds. Try to visit a different type of museum each week to break things up and experience some diversity.
- Take an Art Class Together
Creating art, whether it’s painting, drawing, or pottery, is a fun way to express creativity. It also forces you to use the muscles in the hands, which may help reduce or prevent symptoms of arthritis. The complex thought processes involved in creating art have also been shown to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Some research has found that these activities also help strengthen neural pathways by creating more powerful dendrites in the brain. This can help seniors protect and reinforce overall cognitive functioning. Creating art will also boost mood and emotional stability by giving seniors something of their own to create. A sense of accomplishment does wonders for the psyche.
- Try Puzzles and Card Games
You can’t always be with your senior loved one, but you can make sure they have something entertaining and beneficial to do. Puzzles, such as crosswords and mahjong, help the mind stay strong and focused. These games require critical thinking, which helps exercise the brain. Playing card games with your senior loved one will have similar benefits on the mind by forcing your loved one to think ahead and develop strategies. Any complex game or puzzle will stimulate the mental processes, which is always important at any age. The brain, like any muscle, requires regular exercise to stay healthy.
- Go for Walks Together
Going for a walk in the neighborhood, or taking leisurely hikes in a local park, is a great way to get in some physical exercise. It also offers mental and emotional benefits by giving you and your senior loved one a chance to clear your heads. Recent studies have found that walking in nature can eliminate or reduce symptoms of mental illness, while also strengthening the immune system. Going for a walk may also ease pain in the joints, promote better weight management, and chase away that craving for sweets. This is also an opportunity for seniors to appreciate the beauty of nature, which can be enjoyable in itself.
- Meet Other Seniors
If you have friends with senior parents, organizing a “play date” for the seniors may be a good idea. In addition to giving everyone something to do, it provides your loved ones with opportunities to socialize with other elders. In terms of staying mentally healthy, socialization is a very important activity. It forces the brain to develop new connections in order to store the memories of these new friends. Additionally, helping your senior loved one make new friends will ensure they can connect with others when they feel lonely. Social companionship helps chase away the blues.
- Visit the Library
There are many types of fun things to do in a library, regardless of your age. Libraries keep issues of newspapers and magazines, if your senior loved one likes to keep up with current events. You can borrow audiobooks for your loved one to listen to when you’re not around, or you can borrow books to read aloud together. In addition to the obvious cognitive benefits that reading provides, this activity also lets your elder loved one escape to fantastic, fictional worlds. While they’re reading or listening to their books, they can forget about their own worries for awhile.
- Go to a Concert or Play
While your elder loved one probably won’t appreciate a rock concert, there are plenty of music festivals and plays that would appeal to them. Look for events that you would both enjoy, so you can have fun together. Many musical artists from the early sixties and seventies are touring with revival shows, which may be of interest to your elder loved one. Alternatively, community theaters present renowned musicals and plays, featuring local performers. This can be a great way to expose your loved one to some culture, while also helping them get out of the house. Building these memories will help protect cognitive functioning, memory, and concentration.
- Take Up a Worthwhile Charity
If you can find a cause that your senior loved one feels passionate about, volunteering may be a great way to contribute to your community. It will provide opportunities for you and your loved one to get out of the house, meet new people, and help a cause in your area. You can assist with food drives and other fundraisers, or you and your elder loved one can collect donations. If your senior has found a talent in those art classes, he or she might want to sell the pieces and donate the money to a specific charity. Paintings, pottery, or crocheted items can all bring in a sizable profit. By giving back to the community, seniors can feel involved and that will help them stay emotionally healthy.
- Join a Gym
Many fitness centers now offer classes just for senior citizens. These classes are intended to keep seniors active and work out the primary muscle groups without overtaxing them. Of course, it’s important for the elder to consult their doctor ahead of time, but organized classes can help the elder stay fit, active, and healthy.
The more active you can keep your senior loved ones, the longer they will stay physically and mentally healthy. In addition to physical activity, engaging them in complex, thought-provoking tasks will also be beneficial. The best strategy for protecting your senior loved one’s well being is to find things to do that you both enjoy. This will give you fond memories as well as helping you both stay physically and mentally fit.