Every year, once the calendar reaches the second half of October, it becomes clear that the Midwest’s colder seasons are well and truly here. While autumn, winter, and early spring are all beautiful and fun in their own ways, getting outdoors can be a hassle for aging adults. When the sun sets earlier, days get chilly, and we trade our beach towels for cozy blankets, there's plenty of fun indoor activities for seniors that are the perfect way for everyone to enjoy any weather.
Staying active and entertained during fall and winter is very important for an aging person’s health — both physical and mental. Seasonal affective disorder is a mental health condition caused by a drop in exposure to the sun, and is much more common in northern states than sunnier southern latitudes. Symptoms manifest as a mild depression, causing sufferers to sleep more, lose interest in previously enjoyed activities, and withdraw from social interaction. Encouraging seniors to engage in activities such as games and crafts helps draw them out of depressive episodes, capturing their interest and stimulating their minds and bodies. Here are some great activities that are perfect for seniors to try indoors:
1. Work on Hobbies or Try New Ones
Nurturing favorite hobbies is a fun and engaging way for aging adults to stay active during the winter. Cooking, knitting, woodwork, and sewing are all excellent activities that require concentration and hand-eye coordination. If a senior has interests that lean more towards the outdoors, try introducing them to relevant documentary films or crafts they can utilize when it gets warm, such as bird houses or garden decorations.
2. Make Seasonal Crafts and Decorations
One wonderful thing about fall and winter is the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day, just to name a few, all have fantastic themes that you can use for art projects, crafts, and decorations. Here are a few of our favorites: these leafy candle holders, these lovely waterless snow globes, and these candy jars.
Don't forget your family holiday traditions! Celebrating winter holidays with the family when you live in assisted living or a senior community may look different — but it's still fun quality time with your loved ones! Check out these ideas for celebrating holidays in assisted living.
3. Play Games with Others
Playing games is a great way for everyone to connect with friends and peers, especially for seniors. Games help to keep minds sharp and spirits up! Group games like charades are a fun way to get the laughter going, and board games like Scrabble, cribbage, and chess make players think strategically and use language and math skills.
4. Show Off Your Green Thumb
It can be depressing when there’s not much greenery outside. Green is a symbol of life, and can even have calming effects. So what better way to bring green back into a senior's life during drab months than indoor gardening? Try making planters or decorating pots with them in addition to maintaining beautiful indoor flowers or plants for an extra personal touch.
5. Make Gifts for Loved Ones
In the seasons of thankfulness and giving, sometimes a small gift goes a long way. Photobooks, cookies, clothes, and decorations are all wonderful, personalized gifts for friends and loved ones. While making gifts, talk about who they’re going to be given to, and any special memories that the senior has of them. This engages them creatively and socially, making it a great bonding activity.
Though there may be bad weather on the horizon, that doesn’t mean fun has to end! Indoor activities for seniors are versatile and engaging, and suitable for any age or ability level (get the grandkids involved, too!). Keeping seniors engaged all year round is critical for their health, and keeps them loving life to its fullest.
This blog was originally published October 31, 2017, and was last updated on December 12, 2022.