As people age, they tend to spend more and more of their time by themselves and in their homes. While this can be relaxing and feel secure, it can also lead to isolation or loneliness. Spending time with other people does the brain well and helps keep mental and social acuity sharp, so it is important to plan senior social activities.
Not all social events are suitable for seniors, and putting them in difficult situations with other people can be a source of stress and embarrassment. Below are some of the most accessible social events to do with seniors so that they can feel included and engaged without feeling threatened.
Things to Keep in Mind
As you choose social events or activities that may be suitable for the older folks in your life, please keep in mind that what is easy for you might not be so easy for them. Even if they have no mobility issues, an elderly person may still struggle with reduced stamina, and feeling “stuck” outside the home can be a very unpleasant experience.
If you are choosing activities that require coordination and fine detail, consider elements like repetitive movement and the ability to fix mistakes when deciding whether that task is a good fit. Events that allow for accessible entrance and exit when they begin to feel tired are more likely to make an older person feel confident—and willing to return.
Just because a person gets older doesn’t mean they lose interest in their hobbies! One of the best ways to keep them engaged and excited is to help them find other people who share their interests.
Hobby clubs might involve physical activity like building something (imagine a Lego club!) or going somewhere (like fishing), but they don’t necessarily need to; those who enjoy sports, for example, can quickly get together and simply watch the game on TV.
Like hobby clubs, reading groups are usually very accessible for seniors since they do not require much physical exertion. Even those with arthritis of the hands or decreased vision should not be discouraged from participating just because they struggle to hold a book open or read the small print; audiobooks and e-readers are making these book clubs more approachable than ever.
Seniors can gather together and even enjoy lunch as a group while discussing what’s been happening in a book they’ve agreed to read. Alternatively, they can all pick different books and share their learning. This is a great way for them to gather together and engage in positive conversation while also sharing their findings.
Visit with Pets
Humane societies, pet stores, and more are making animals a fun activity for seniors by hosting pet-specific theme days. Sometimes, a senior can go directly to the business to play with animals, give them treats or simply sit with them, and sometimes these organizations come to long-term care facilities for a visit.
See if such programs exist in your area—because engaging with pets triggers many of the same social centers of the brain as speaking with people.
For those wanting to feel like they’re giving back, charity work offers a variety of benefits for seniors. Those able to be mobile can join a group to help serve food or pack care packages, while others can meet to work on more stationary projects like making quilts or crocheting.
By working as a team, seniors can gain a sense of common purpose and camaraderie while achieving tasks bigger than they might have been able to tackle on their own. Local faith congregations or charities can be a good source to explore options.
Puzzles and Games
Of course, one of the most accessible social activities that a senior can participate in is simply to play games with one or many others. Communal areas in assisted living facilities, or local Senior Centers can serve this purpose, but don’t stop there—did you know that even places like hobby stores sometimes have space dedicated to playing games?
They usually provide the games themselves, which means you won’t need to bring materials. It’s often easy to try games and activities without purchasing them yourself, and most games are not terribly costly. Can anyone say trivia night?
Puzzles, like jigsaw puzzles, are also an excellent cooperative option for those with dexterity and fine motor control, and there’s a reason that bingo is so popular with the older crowd. Simply being present with other people, even if not in direct conversation, can garner enormous benefits for an older person’s social life.
Manage Senior Living with Guidance from Experts
Keeping seniors social into their more aged years can be challenging. However, there are still a wide variety of options available for both mobile individuals and those who need in-place hobbies.
Navigating this stage of life might feel overwhelming, but the professionals at Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia can help you plan and participate in successful senior social events. Reach out to learn more or to ask questions about aging in place and establishing a sense of community.