If you have a loved one in an assisted living facility, it can be difficult to come up with fun assisted living activity ideas, particularly if they struggle with mobility or cognitive difficulty. However, visiting regularly helps you to stay close to your loved one and finding things to keep you all occupied can not only help you strengthen your bond, but can promote and enhance important skills. To help out, we’ve put together 25 of the most fun activities for senior citizens, both indoor and outdoor.
Crafts are a great assisted living activity idea as they can be undertaken individually, as a pastime, or collaboratively with visitors and friends. Needlework such as knitting, crochet or cross-stitch promote fine motor skills but, if an individual has trouble with fine motor control, more abstract crafts such as painting or collages may be a better option.
Engaging with music is always a fun activity for senior adults. You can make music together, or simply listen to music. It can be soothing or stimulating and listening to music from their youth and can bring back pleasant memories. Music therapy is a widely-used treatment to help keep dementia patients calm and happy as well.
3. Eating together
You can take them out or eat together in the assisted living facility but sharing a meal is a great senior living activity idea. You could have an indoor picnic or cook them dinner – maybe make their favorite meal or recreate something you’ve enjoyed together in the past.
4. Using a sensory room
Using a sensory room can help a range of seniors, such as those with dementia. There are sensory solutions for every user, whatever their need, whether that is calming or encouraging interaction. In particular, our sensory projectors can create an immersive environment that can promote engagement and focus and bring people out of their shell. This can be rewarding and is one of the best indoor activities for senior citizens.
5. Bringing the kids
Kids, and particularly young children, can have a really positive impact on seniors in assisted living facilities. Activities with young children are very low-pressure and a child’s idle chatter can help an elderly person to open up. A study undertaken in the UK a few years ago showed just how positive the presence of a child can be for older people and help them have the kind of carefree fun that only kids can truly embrace.
6. Developing skills
As we get older, sometimes our cognitive and motor skills become more difficult to maintain. Working on these skills can be the best way to maintain independence. We offer the Aurora LED Sensory Projector Bundle which is specifically designed for dementia care and improving memory, and a range of sensory equipment to help with fine motor skills - these are not only for skill-building, but can also be fun activities for senior adults.
7. Therapy animals
Pets can be a wonderful source of comfort for those in assisted living as they can help with loneliness, as well as giving them something to care for. In some assisted living facilities pets may not be an option for numerous reasons, but that doesn’t mean the seniors have to miss out. Therapy animals are calm and even-tempered and can be hired to provide a comforting distraction for the elderly.
If live animals aren’t an option, consider Perfect Petzzz – a soft, huggable furry friend that can be calming and soothing and doesn’t require any looking after.
8. Start a book club
This is a great way to keep your mind and theirs sharp, and is easy and affordable. Most libraries have large-print books or audio books for seniors with visual challenges, and reading (or listening to) the same book gives you something fun to discuss. Plus, when you read with someone of a different generation, you could get a host of new insights and perspectives.
A book club could be just you and them, or a group activity with several others. The more insights and perspectives, the better!
9. Watch a movie
Who doesn’t love a movie night, or even a movie day? Get cozy with some blankets and snacks and let them decide what you watch. This is great for low-energy days and giving you something to talk about and, similarly to music therapy, watching nostalgic films can have a positive impact on a senior’s mental health. This is a great indoor activity for senior citizens because you can watch anything you like and they might even put you onto something you wouldn’t otherwise watch.
10. Play some bingo
Going with them to bingo is a great way to show interest in them and their hobbies. If you don’t want to go to a bingo hall, why not invite some of the other people in the assisted living facility and make a group of it?
Bingo is a great indoor activity for senior citizens because it’s social, it’s competitive, there’s a lot of luck involved and it’s accessible – in fact, there’s even research that suggests that in bingo, those with mild dementia can get back onto an even footing with neurotypical peers.
11. Play some board games
Another low-energy classic. Any kind of board game is good, including luck-based games like Candy Land and Mouse Trap, or more strategic ones like Monopoly. While any game can be good, make sure to tailor the game to the senior – playing a complex, strategic game may not be a great idea for a senior who struggles with cognitive function or memory formation.
12. Track your genealogy
Consider signing up for a genealogy tracking system and seeing how far back you can trace their family tree. If their memory is still strong, they may be able to remember names to get you started. If the senior is your relative, you could even learn something new about your ancestry!
13. Do some puzzles
Puzzles promote mental stimulation and engagement, as well as memory formation and problem solving, meaning they help keep the mind sharp. You could do a puzzle book together with crosswords, sudoku and wordsearches, or pick up a jigsaw.
14. Have a spa day
Everyone deserves to be pampered now and again. This is a great fun activity for senior adults. This could be face masks and cucumber slices, or you could go all out with a foot spa and mini-manicure. The key is to help them (and you!) feel refreshed and just have a good time.
Scrapbooking is a way to document thoughts in a creative way – you could pick a theme to follow, or simply find any old letters or pictures and make them into an art piece. With scrapbooking, you can add little notes or thoughts around the focus piece and if the senior’s then starts to struggle with memory, they’ll have a visual aid to work it through.
16. Clean with them
Okay, this one might not sound like a fun activity for senior adults or for you, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Put on some music and dance around with a broom to keep it light! But helping a senior to deep-clean their home can be a great way to spend a day, particularly if you have more physical strength than they do. There may be things that they can’t quite do any more, so helping them out can keep their space homely and fresh.
17. Do a trivia night
This one is more of a group activity, so you could bring some friends and family over or set up in a common area or garden with some other members of the assisted living facility. Trivia can be about all sorts of things and teaming up to share knowledge is a great way to bond with others!
It might sound basic but just going for a walk can be a pleasant way to spend some time. You could drive out somewhere so that the senior can get some fresh air and new scenery, so long as you make sure to keep them safe and not overdo it. Make sure to take some water and snacks!
Swimming is a fun activity for senior adults because the uplift in the water takes some of the strain from muscles and joints, and the act of swimming exercises the whole body. This doesn’t necessarily mean diving headfirst into the deep end, but gentle aerobic exercise in shallow water can be very beneficial.
Retail therapy – you have to love it. You could visit small, independent stores or a sprawling mall, and look for clothes, books, treats or art. Stop off for lunch somewhere and make a day of it, if you can. This can be a really fun activity for senior adults staying in assisted living.
21. Visiting a place of worship
While this is technically an indoor activity, senior citizens often find that visiting a religious place can be very soothing. Perhaps there is a particular church, mosque or synagogue that they haven’t been to in a while that they would like to visit, or maybe they would just like to show you around and share their faith with you. This can be a meaningful experience and help them to reconnect with their faith.
22. Sharing a picnic
Picnics are one of the best ways to get some sun and fresh air without having to use up a lot of energy. This is also an affordable way to spend time – all you need is a basic picnic blanket and some of your favorite foods! A small open tent or an umbrella can provide excellent shade if it’s needed, and make sure to drink plenty of water if you’re out in the sun.
23. Take a cultural day trip
Day trips out to cultural or fun places can be great activities for seniors in assisted living facilities. You could go to a museum, art gallery or zoo and spend a few hours there. Day trips are also good if you have kids visiting with you – they can be an extra source of fun, but since they’ll be distracted there’s less pressure on the senior.
24. Light exercise classes
This is something you can do together. Tai chi is one of the most popular forms of light exercise for seniors, but it’s an effective form of fitness for all ages. Seated exercise, like stationary bicycles, can help improve posture and fitness without going overboard, and you can work out together even at different levels.
If they have a garden, spending a day gardening can be a rewarding and fun activity for assisted living facilities. To keep things accessible, you could use tools with foam handles for easier gripping and grabbers to minimize stretching.
It’s important to spend time with senior citizens, and being able to offer fun assisted living activity ideas is a great place to start. Loneliness rates are often highest among seniors, and making time for them doesn’t have to mean sitting in their living room with a plate of cookies (but who can say no to cookies?).
If you would like to discuss setting up a sensory room in an assisted living facility or invest in some sensory products to help seniors with mental or physical difficulties, or for more information, contact Experia USA today.