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25 Things for Bored Seniors to Do Alone and with Others and Stay Active

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Life always gives you a chance to redefine yourself. It doesn’t matter what age you have attained; you always have an opportunity to restructure your life. Life still goes on after retirement. But retirement is critical because seniors may be bored and feel purposeless.

Many physical, physiological, psychological, and social changes occur in the human body at every age. Especially when a person starts turning older, metabolism slows.

Now the question is, why do seniors get bored at home? What to do? If you heard the phrase “bored to death”, this is felt when a person starts ageing, activities of lower levels are adopted, and elderly people judge their quality of life to be deteriorating.

When seniors stay alone doing nothing, they experience loneliness and depression. Studies have concluded that loneliness and depression lead to cutting close family ties resulting in reduced social life. These changes need to be addressed so that after attaining an older age, a person can still be open to opportunities to follow hobbies for seniors and skills. Therefore, ‘boredom busters’ for seniors have great importance in their lives. Things for bored seniors to do at home involve:

  • Staying creative and active
  • Having a good social life
  • Avoiding the fear of trying out newer things.

To Do At Home

The WHO estimated that 20% of older people over 60 deal with mental or neurological conditions. Mental health for older people is as essential as for every age group. Many stressors may involve chronic illnesses, losing a spouse, retirement, changes in finances, being a caregiver, and many more. When mental health is affected, it may lead to cognitive impairment, mood disorders, depression, or bipolar disorders.

The practice of balancing mental health should start at home. Home is the place where seniors spend most of their time. Fortunately, mental health issues are often treatable. There are various senior activities the elderly do to overcome boredom and encourage activity at home.

Play card games

Hearts and Cribbage are excellent games for seniors, offering cognitive benefits and promoting social interaction. Hearts is a trick-taking card game where players aim to avoid certain cards that carry penalty points. Cribbage, on the other hand, is a card game that involves creating specific combinations for points, tracked on a distinctive peg board. Both games can be enjoyed online at sites like Hearts Land and Cribbage Online, allowing seniors to engage with others and keep their minds sharp from the comfort of their homes.

Trying out indoor games

For those with limited mobility, morale can be boosted with indoor games in which older adults engage and actively participate. These games may include puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, chess, card, or board games. Although outdoor activities can also be enjoyable, they should only create manageable stress for a body, like short walks to parks.

Gardening

Beauty lies in nature. The best present of nature is plants and all the greenery. Gardening and admiring the beauty of nature is the most peaceful activity. Older people can choose whether to grow plants in smaller pots or spacious balconies. It is the best thing to keep them engaged.

Owning a pet

Owning a pet is a good idea for those who live alone. This has the significant benefit of enhancing sociability and interaction among the ageing population. A dog pet requires daily walks, so older adults are encouraged to take a walk too. That will help by improving blood circulation and cardiovascular functioning. Loneliness is reduced; pets provide security and a good routine. Walking with dogs requires strength and energy. A cat would be another good pet. In many cases, cats are comparatively more independent than dogs.

Listening to music

Music has the significant benefit of improving mood and arousing heartwarming memories. It doesn’t require older people to have musical skills; still, music is the best therapy for them. There are two types of music therapy: active music therapy and receptive music therapy. Active music therapy involves simple musical activities like playing an instrument, singing karaoke, and light dancing. Conversely, repetitive music therapy involves listening to recorded or live music. Music encourages senior citizens to stay mentally and physically active.

Taking art classes

Art is the best therapy that helps by improving sensory-motor functions. Participation in art activities ensures healthy ageing. There has been research on theatre, music, creative writing, dance, and other engaging activities, that help by enhancing cognitive function. Taking art and craft classes online would be beneficial.

Trying minimal exercises

Seniors should start moderate exercises, which can be practised on alternate days. Swimming can be very helpful. Other activities for senior citizens can involve chair yoga, walking, dumbbell strength training, Pilates, or resistance band workouts.

Cooking

Cooking involves little physical activity except for moving around the kitchen. It affects mental health positively as concentration and learning ability are enhanced. Enabling elders to try out newer recipes with traditional tastes can encourage younger ones to help and enjoy. You can suggest the elders try online cooking sessions.

Reading and writing

The excitement of opening the covers of a new book can be rejuvenating for those who love reading. Reading relieves anxiety and stress. Writing thoughts and opinions on paper feels like sharing with the article. It keeps older adults engaged.

Enjoy movies

Movies impact by fostering friendship, enhancing togetherness, and stimulating empathy. Accessing movies has become a great deal easier nowadays. Seniors can enjoy access with the help of Netflix, Amazon Prime videos, Disney+, etc.

Enjoy getting together

Getting together with old friends is the best way to rekindle friendship. Mood is uplifted when memories and laughter are shared among close friends.Getting together is a way not only to meet and greet but it’s also a time of appreciation for those joyful moments.

Lessons from the pandemic

Older people often deal with physical limitations, and COVID’s arrival worsened conditions. Due to the highly infectious nature of SARS-CoV-2, it seemed that social isolation was the only option to keep people safe. The daily routines of older people changed drastically. Adapting and planning activities according to the new rules took a lot of patience. The complete lockdown situation was intensely depressing as it triggered uncertainty and fear for many people.

Seniors were greatly affected by the pandemic, especially as many were already dealing with chronic conditions. The coronavirus pandemic was a challenge to their immune system. Some coped, while some took longer to recuperate. Social disengagement led to in some cases to increased mental health problems, which could in turn affect the memory and cognitive functions of the brain.

Staying at home was the best thing people could do to safeguard themselves. In such conditions, boredom was more engulfing than the Coronavirus itself. The primary objective for seniors was to deal with physical and emotional isolation. If the seniors were engaged in household activities, their mental and physical activity would be enhanced. We learned that seniors could benefit from a range of activities during lockdown.

Knitting and sewing

Knitting enables you to twist and loop yarn to create objects in your choice of shapes and design. It just requires two needles and a ball of yarn of your favourite colours. Sewing offers similar creative possibilities using fabric and thread.

Bird watching

Bird watching is a low-impact activity that offers sensory stimulation by connecting with nature. It helps seniors relax and meditate. It enhances observation skills of birds’ behaviour patterns, chirping and singing, external beauty, and their features.

Explore new hobbies

Exploring new hobbies is joyous. It helps in figuring out areas of interest to be explored further. Some might be interested in yoga, music, learning new languages, writing, or playing.

Indoor games

Playing indoor games like chess, checkers, crossword puzzles, solitaire, mahjong, rummy, pinochle, and canasta keeps the mind sharp and active. The best thing about indoor games is they can be played alone or together.

Phone calls and video chats

Seniors with limited mobility can reduce loneliness by spending time with loved ones through video chatting or making phone calls. Sometimes talking to a person living far away brings great joy, and for a while a person can forget about their sadness.

In a Retirement or Nursing Facility

Retirement and nursing home residents can suffer from isolation if they are prone to depression. Being separated from loved ones can lead to feelings of sadness.

There could be many signs that could be the result of changing emotions among older people, such as:

  • Unwillingness to bathe or change clothes
  • Keeping room darker by covering it with curtains
  • Unusual wandering
  • Wakefulness
  • Repetition of activities or stories

There are a number of ‘boredom busters’ that can help reduce loneliness in a nursing facility.

Engaging in fitness and exercises

Exercise benefits can be mental, physical, and emotional. Group exercises, a walk every day, yoga, meditation, or other breathing exercises are great activities for those in a nursing home.

Older people can also try chair exercises like chair dance, chair yoga, chair Zumba, etc.

Listening to a podcast

Listening to a podcast is an effortless way to be aware of current events, exciting and informative facts and updates, and inspiring stories. Listening to interviews can also be interesting.

Writing or journaling

Writing is the best method of expressing thoughts or opinions. Writing has no limitations but requires great mental concentration. It is helpful for brain functioning.

Engaging in group activities

Group activities may involve indoor games like scrapbooking, bingo, puzzles, jigsaw, or board games. The other activities may be blind-tasting competitions, music events, food-centred activities, and holiday programmes. Group activities can improve togetherness and sociability.

Employing the assistance of technology

Technology is an excellent tool for making the most of free time. It can also be used as part of activity programming. Older people can learn technology, have video or text chats, use video games, and explore the world of information on the internet.

For People with Disabilities

Senior citizens with limited mobility often spend most of their time sitting or lying down. While resting, a chair and a bed are heavenly things, when it comes to the whole day, the lack of activity can be distressing. Seniors can experience low mood and self-esteem when they have to spend an entire day in one place. A little spark is needed, and seniors can still take part in a range of activities.

Learning a new language

Learning a new language is a brain exercise that is interesting when you have the right source. Foreign language learning introduces structural brain changes. With advanced technology, learning has become way more accessible. The best websites and applications for language learning are Duolingo, Netflix, Memrise, etc.

Playing music

Music has the power to uplift spirit and mood. It enhances communication skills too. Seniors can listen to soothing music, like doo-wop or jazz, to relax their minds. Senior tastes include classic country, classical/instrumental, big band, and pop oldies.

Going through old albums

Going through old photo albums is beneficial, especially for those with dementia. Since some elderly are not computer savvy, going through old albums can revive cherished memories.

Practising physical flexibility

Focusing on flexibility ensures good health and fitness. It reduces the risk of injuries like strains, sprains, and fractures. Seniors can focus on shoulder flexion, abduction, ankle plantar flexion, etc.

Having tea parties

Sitting at the dining table or in the open garden, with sandwiches, small desserts, and, most importantly, tea, can be a luxurious experience. Tea parties enhance togetherness and relax the mind.

Benefits of Senior Boredom Busters

Freedom from regular work or duties and the associated stress is sometimes better for health. Leisure time is the prize for some, but research has shown that having and deciding how to spend leisure time can itself be stressful for others.

Stress in seniors can result in frequent headaches, insomnia, loss of appetite, difficulty concentrating, and stomach upsets. The stressors for seniors can be classified into:

  • Lifestyle stressors
  • Physiological stressors
  • Life event stressors
  • Social stress
  • Environmental stress
  • Financial stressors

When stress is a challenge, it becomes necessary to encourage elderly people to try out the boredom buster ideas discussed earlier. By encouraging older people, you can help them to fight against destructive mindsets.

A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed that activities during free time provide instant relief from stress and provide health benefits.

Encourages socio-emotional regulation

Indoor activities can be fun and engaging, enabling necessary conversation and deeper understanding. These activities may involve brain visualisation, memory, and manipulation of images that have the effect of facilitating visual motor integration. Better socio-emotional relations are boosted with positive affirmations and gratitude.

Facilitates active ageing

Indoor activities like baking and playing card games can remind people of their younger days. Here a consistent sense of subjective and psychological well-being is provided by one’s own body. Psychological well-being enhances the physiological metabolism of the body, leading to happy and healthy ageing. It also lowers the stress.

Enhances hand-eye coordination

Various indoor games enhance hand-eye coordination. Games like ping pong and bingo require good coordination of hand and eye. These games facilitate the brain pathway to evaluate the distance and process the muscle moment.

Helps fight against depression and isolation

Depression is a common issue faced by much of the population, but experience can be improved with consistent indoor activities. Activities like meditation, yoga, art creation, and spending quality time with nature and family members can be like mental therapy. Since the mind is engaged, loneliness is reduced.

Provides mental exercise

Seniors who are engaged in indoor activities have improved cognitive functioning. While playing, the pattern of winning, losing, identifying, and deciphering keeps the mind active. This mental stimulation boosts the cognitive ability of older adults, ultimately enhancing their quality of life. Embracing mental exercises like learning a new skill set, solving a puzzle, or trying out new recipes, provides relief from stress and the opportunity to spend quality time with family.

Life is synonymous with ageing and shouldn’t hinder leading a happy life. Humans are so immersed in their hectic schedules or work pressures that they often forget about their interests and hobbies while they are young. As they get older, people may experience depression and loneliness, and their behaviour may change after retirement. There are many things for bored seniors to do alone instead of descending into destructive patterns of behaviour such as binge eating, drinking, smoking, or excessive television watching. After retirement, seniors could take time to enjoy more of the activities they have always loved.

We should not ignore the fact that retired people are still significant contributors to society as family members, volunteers, or supporting social welfare. Older adults need to focus on spending time productively and staying enthusiastic after retirement. Hobbies for seniors involve in engaging activities to enable better physical and mental functioning and enjoy life more.

Image from Unsplash

 

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Vicki
Vicki
7 months ago

These are great suggestions, but the title is somewhat misleading. Although some activities like journaling and going through albums and gardening can be done alone, some of them can’t be done by yourself. “Enjoy getting together” requires at least one other person, and some of the indoor games you suggest also need another person. Could you perhaps change the title slightly to reflect that?

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