Exercising and maintaining an active life benefit just about every aspect of your health, regardless of your age. Staying active helps you build muscle, strengthen your heart, manage weight, and work your mental muscles, all while releasing endorphins to relieve stress, boost your self-confidence, and improve your mood.
Unfortunately, staying active is often easier said than done. Maintaining a routine can be difficult, and it’s not always accessible, especially for elderly adults. However, there is at least one activity out there for everyone. You should, of course, consult your doctor before you begin any physical activity outside of your routine. Here are some fun activities for seniors that many clients love to enjoy with their home health aide services.
1. Get in the pool!
Swimming is not only a great way to stay cool; it’s also a great way to stay fit. Swimming and aqua aerobics classes are perfect for those who can handle more rigorous exercise, but simply walking in the shallow end offers more resistance and a break from the typical stroll. Many community pools have a schedule of classes and designated times for older adults to enjoy the water at their own pace.
2. Start a garden
Gardening is a great activity for older adults to spend time outside and engage in some low-impact physical activity that has been shown to improve strength, mobility and flexibility. This is perfect if you have a loved one utilizing ALS home health care and need exercise to reduce the effects of the disease. Planting flowers, herbs and vegetables around the house with a loved one or friend can also help strengthen personal relationships, while helping out in a local community garden can provide a sense of belonging and purpose.
To make gardening less physically stressful, older adults can try techniques like vertical planting to reduce the need for bending and kneeling. Hardware and home supply stores also sell lighter weight and adaptive tools that are easier for seniors to grip and use.
Aside from the physical components, gardening is also an exercise in strategy. You have to think about what you’re growing and the amount of light and water that each plant needs. You have to consider how to protect your plants from pests and environmental factors. Tending a garden requires a surprising level of thought, planning, and creativity. There’s also something to be said for taking care of living things and being responsible for the wellbeing of your plants.
3. Go out to eat.
A picnic turns a simple lunch into a memorable event. Whether just enjoying some snacks on a blanket with a friend or loved one, or attending a lively neighborhood barbeque, getting outside and experiencing the smells, tastes and sounds can help bring back memories, and create new ones. After your meal (or before, if you like), go out for ice cream! Many local shops now offer sugar-free and even dairy-free options for those with dietary restrictions.
4. Write letters or create a scrapbook.
Of course, social media has made it easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, but it also makes writing letters that much more special. Not only can writing keep you mentally sharp, but putting thoughts to paper can boost your mood. Plus, receiving letters is also a mood booster for others—it’s a win-win!
Scrapbooking is also a great indoor activity that helps improve memory and celebrate your life’s adventures. It also is useful in getting organized and de-cluttering a closet or desk.
5. Get into a book.
In addition to writing, reading is another way to keep your mind active while avoiding the summer heat. And you don’t have to stay in your own home to do it. Go to a library or a bookstore and find a new book and a comfy seat. Even join a local book club (or make one on your own with friends and family) to share your thoughts on your latest page-turner.
6. Experience culture and nature inside.
Walking around a local museum is not only good for the mind; it’s also good exercise. Taking in works of art or learning historical facts is a wonderful way to spend a hot summer day with other members of your community. Or, if you’d rather spend time with members of the animal community, check out a nearby aquarium. Most facilities offer discounts for seniors and are now easily accessible for those with limited mobility.
There are almost endless ways for older adults to enjoy the summertime—indoors and out—but begin your planning with the weather report. If you choose an outdoor activity, make sure to stay hydrated and have access to shade, or take breaks in the air conditioning. Caretakers should be extra vigilant in the hot summer months and look for signs of heat stress, such as confusion, dizziness, sudden fatigue, headaches, cramps and nausea. Make summer fun, but keep it safe!
If you or someone you love could benefit from Alliance Homecare’s comprehensive offerings, call (877) 687-7380 to speak with our expert Care Managers today.
7. Take a hike
Hiking is a great way to exercise while getting closer to nature. Regularly hiking can boost your cardiovascular health, ease joint pain, and boost bone density. If you are wondering how to help the elderly with depression, getting fresh air and sunshine has been shown to reduce symptoms and signs of depression, along with feelings of isolation and loneliness.
You don’t have to hike long distances or climb sheer cliffs to get those benefits. Strolling through your neighborhood bike path or finding a nearby nature trail is the perfect way to connect with nature and get your body moving. While you should, by all means, challenge yourself as you see fit, don’t feel pressured to go beyond your comfort level, especially when you’re just starting out.
Best of all, it doesn’t take much to get started. Comfortable shoes, easy to remove layers, and plenty of sunscreen are enough to get you through just about any trail. Use hiking poles or a walking stick to keep your balance. Most importantly make sure you stay hydrated and bring extra water.
Go slow, taking plenty of breaks along the way, and enjoy the nature around you. Hiking is also great with a friend or a group of friends, which fosters camaraderie and offers an extra bit of safety. Before you set off on your hike, tell a friend or family member where you’re hiking and where you’ve parked, especially if you are venturing on your own.
8. Play Tennis
While it can be nice to play an entire match of tennis, you can still have a ton of fun playing for fun with a friend or a group of friends. Tennis requires a combination of strength, balance, concentration, and coordination, and it takes a surprising amount of cardiovascular activity. Tennis is a full-body activity that uses every muscle from your feet to your shoulders.
All you really need is a court, tennis racket, and ball. Tennis courts are readily available in many local parks, but larger gyms and local community centers have indoor courts, allowing you to play rain or shine.
There are a lot of fun games to play with your tennis partner. For example, you can practice dribbling the ball with your racket across the court, then see how many passes you can make in a row before the ball goes over the line. As you build confidence, you can start playing a more competitive game.
Yoga has become an increasingly popular and fun activity among just about everyone lately. Yoga comprises a series of positions that work your flexibility, strength, balance, and mobility coupled with important breathwork that adds a meditative component to the exercises. There are a wide range of yoga exercises and positions to choose from. The best part is that nearly every position and stretch has variations for beginners, making it one of the most accessible, no-pressure activities for elderly adults.
Yoga can be easily performed indoors and outdoors. Wear non-restrictive clothes with some stretch to them, and invest in a comfortable yoga mat to keep from slipping. You can find numerous yoga classes, even some that are specifically for beginners and seniors. In-person instruction is the best way to learn positions and perfect your form, but the internet also offers an expansive range of yoga workout videos that allow you to follow along with trained instructors.
Vinyasa is the most popular form of yoga, but it mainly focuses on upbeat, high-intensity workouts to get the heart pumping. Beginning seniors should consider Iyengar yoga, which emphasizes stability and alignment while making positions more accessible with the use of household tools and props.
10. Practice tai chi
Tai chi is one of the most common elderly activities, and for good reason. Tai chi is one of the only low-impact martial arts, meaning it is easy on the joints. This allows you to improve your balance, strength, and flexibility even if you have limited mobility or joint pain problems. The movements involved with tai chi are slow and gentle, but they require concentration and full control of your body. Similar to yoga, tai chi focuses on your breathing as you transition between moves, which calms the mind and relieves stress. Tai chi forms can be adjusted for your specific needs, including seated forms.
Tai chi requires no special equipment. Just wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes. While you can find instructional videos online, it’s best to start with in-person programs so that you have a better idea of proper form, posture, and technique. Many gyms, community centers, and senior living facilities offer tai chi classes, so try to take advantage of these classes two to three times per week.
There are an endless array of creative activities to try. Whether you want to learn to dance or play a sport, don’t be afraid to try something new. There is always a way to adjust or modify activities to suit your personal comfort. With Alliance HomeCare, you can live your life to its fullest and enjoy all kinds of fun senior activities with some help and guidance from our team or in home nurse care options. Contact us to learn more about how our staff can lend a helping hand to your everyday life.