While it’s always important to spend time outdoors, there are plenty of indoor activities that can be fun and mentally stimulating when the weather is wet or chilly. Seniors need a good mix of social, mental, and physical stimulation to support overall health and reduce the risk of declining health, depression, and illness that can come from a sedentary lifestyle or isolation. Here are some enjoyable indoor activities seniors can enjoy, no matter the weather.
Wii Video Games Combine Fun and Exercise
This may be surprising, but some video games can actually be rewarding and enjoyable for seniors and offer much-needed physical activity. The Wii, a video game system from Nintendo, uses handheld controllers that detect speed and movement. Playing Wii games like tennis and golf engages the torso, legs, and arms for light exercise. The Will is also a great choice for an indoor activity that appeals to all generations, including grandchildren.
Music Is Therapy and Entertainment
Music has been found to be very beneficial for seniors who struggle with memory problems as they can actually access memories of music better than memories of people and events Research even indicates that music can be better than traditional medicine when it comes to chronic pain management, easing some symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and speeding healing after surgery.
It’s important for seniors to have access to music they enjoy for mental stimulation. Playing music can even be combined with dancing in the living room to a bit of light activity.
Host a Dinner Party for Socialization
Unfortunately, many seniors fall victim to isolation, especially seniors with mobility issues. Everyone needs social interaction, which can reduce the risk of depression, dementia, infection, and more. While it can be hard for many seniors to connect with others, particularly when leaving the house is challenging, there’s one idea that can be easy to set up: dinner parties.
For seniors with limited mobility and other challenges, caregivers can arrange for a dinner and invite friends and loved ones. Seniors who are able to will likely enjoy contributing to preparations, menu plans, and the actual cooking. In many larger cities, seniors can even benefit from dinner clubs, including some specifically designed for older adults. Dinner clubs allow members to take turns hosting a dinner party, which may be weekly or monthly.
Word Games Can Improve Cognitive Function
The brain is like many things in life: if you don’t use it, you lose it. Word games can help seniors stay engaged and keep their minds sharp. Along with magazines like Search For Words, seniors can quickly catch on to popular apps like Words With Friends and Word Cookies. An iPad is easy to learn, even for seniors who have never used a computer, and its large screen and brightness settings make it easy to see and read.
Cook Meals Together for Bonding
As a loved one gets older, their dietary needs will likely change. This doesn’t mean meals need to be bland or boring, however. Preparing meals together can be an excellent opportunity to bond with the whole family and help older adults feel engaged. You can find plenty of wholesome recipes to prepare together that fit your loved one’s dietary restrictions like diabetes-friendly or low sodium.
Choose fresh ingredients to prepare your loved one’s favorite dishes with their help and insight, or buy a cookbook and find new ideas you can both enjoy. This activity is important for social interaction, but it can also be a way for older adults to contribute to the household — something that most older adults consider essential. Have younger family members help out to learn recipes their mother or father grew up enjoying!
Yoga Can Boost Flexibility and Relaxation
Yoga isn’t just for the young. The ancient art of yoga has been practiced for thousands of years by people of all ages. Yoga poses and stretches also have a surprisingly long list of health benefits for seniors:
- Ease chronic pain
- Reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis
- Boost bone density and help fight osteoporosis
- Improve depression
- Improve sleep
- Alleviate respiratory problems
- Stress relief
- Improve balance and flexibility
Seniors usually do best with standing yoga postures like Standing Spinal Twist as well as sitting postures like the Cat Stretch. Even seniors with mobility issues can practice yoga. “Chair yoga” is gaining in popularity among seniors who experience pain or fatigue when standing for a long period of time. This low-impact form of exercise is great for starting the morning and it can be practiced in a group setting, too.
Senior Exercise Classes Are Available at Most Gyms
It’s easy to find indoor exercise programs for seniors at most gyms, health clubs, and senior centers. One popular option is Silver Sneakers, a free fitness class that’s covered by many insurance plans. With Silver Sneakers, seniors get unlimited membership at participating fitness centers with a huge range of classes like yoga for seniors, cardio classes, cycling, and more.
A local YMCA is also likely to offer low-intensity workouts for older adults. Zumba Gold offers Latin workout themes at a slow pace while Chair Yoga allows anyone to enjoy the benefits of yoga without extended periods of standing.
Online Cognitive Games Can Boost Memory and Problem Solving
As a growing body of research has shown that cognitive activities like puzzle solving can actually guard against dementia and memory decline, there has been a growth in the area of cognitive games, many of which are designed for older adults. One of the most popular is Lumosity, an online brain training program that includes games designed to improve memory, critical thinking, attention, and mental flexibility.
Lumosity is available online or as an app for an iPad with more than 30 games that challenge five different cognitive abilities. Seniors can enjoy a simple past-time on quiet days that actually helps keep the mind sharp.
Read a Book and Get Lost in a Story
Reading is essential for overall senior health. It doesn’t just keep the mind engaged and learning new things; reading can also open up new worlds, help with sleep, and stave off depression.
If an aging loved one has difficulty reading, there are a few options. The simplest option is choosing large print books, but you can also read aloud together. Many seniors also appreciate audio books as listening to a narrative can be relaxing and therapeutic.
Nothing Beats Classic Board Games
The classics never go out of style. Sometimes there’s nothing like enjoying a board game like Monopoly, Scrabble, or Trivial Pursuit. Board games can be a low-key form of entertainment on a rainy day or a competitive event with the entire family. Like the Wii, board games are good for getting the entire family together for quality time. Many games can also help support good cognitive health with problem-solving, strategy, and memory aspects.
This is just a small sample of fun activities older adults may enjoy indoors. Regardless of age, it’s important to turn to a range of activities that support physical, emotional, and cognitive health.