Activity is a critical part of the senior lifestyle. For some, it’s a way to stay active and engaged with their peers and loved ones. But for every senior, there are many other benefits that come along with staying active as you age — emotional health, social interaction, better sleep patterns, and lower stress levels.
Keep reading to learn seven different activities to stay engaged physically and mentally as you age!
Healthy Brains Have Better Memory Retention
There are many benefits to a healthy brain, but one of the most important is memory retention. It's normal for our brains to lose some of their ability to recall information and process new information as we age. However, there are things we can do to help keep our minds sharp as we age, like engaging in activities that promote mental stimulation.
1. Card Games
Card games are a fun way to stay mentally active. They can also be a great way to socialize with others and make new friends. Card games like bridge, canasta, euchre, and poker require you to use memory recall and problem-solving skills to play successfully. Some people may think that card games are just for older adults — but this isn't true at all. There are dozens of card games that children can learn how to play for a fun afternoon with the grandkids!
The tabletop gaming landscape is growing every day, too! If you’re bored with regular card games, try one of the many newer card games. Games like Codenames, Love Letter, and even Exploding Kittens are fun, easy to pick up, and engage your mind!
If you've ever seen someone knitting at the park or crocheting in the library with their friends, you know that crafting is a popular activity for seniors. And it's not just because it's fun — there are many benefits to crafting!
Crafting is good for your mind and body. Your brain continues to learn new things, while also staying active and using fine motor skills.
There are many crafting groups, both online and in person, to connect with other crafters! Making friends as a senior can be difficult, but sharing a hobby, like painting, quilting, or even wood burning, is a great way to meet others (and maybe even start a project together!).
One of the best parts about crafting is having a work of art at the end you can share with others or display in your home. Handmade items also give us something concrete for memories to be built upon. In fact, in memory care, object therapy is a common therapy to help seniors stay present and feel accomplished.
Dancing is a fun way to stay active, especially if you’re looking for something to strengthen your core or lose weight. The coordination required for dancing is great for building strength and working out your brain at the same time!
There are plenty of dance styles to try, too. You could sign up for ballroom dance or try something totally different, like tap dance, jazz styles, or contemporary dance! Taking a class is a great way to receive guided instruction, while also meeting new people.
4. Exercise Classes
Just like dance classes, exercise classes are a great way to both stay active and meet new people. A number of fitness centers offer classes tailored to seniors or by fitness level, so you can find something that works for you.
If you're worried about being too old for this kind of thing, don't be: many seniors who have taken part in an exercise program say it was one of their favorite ways to spend time during retirement. Sign up for traditional exercise classes like water aerobics, spin, or pilates, join a senior sports league, or play in pickup matches for sports, like soccer and basketball.
5. Family Visits
Stay connected with your loved ones by visiting often or inviting them over. If you have the opportunity, it's nice to visit them in person. However, if that's not possible or practical, technology can help make up for it! You could use FaceTime to talk with them face-to-face online (and vice versa).
While it’s important to get social interaction from people outside of your family as you age, it’s still good to spend time with your loved ones and create cherished memories. Take a day trip with the grandkids or create new holiday traditions with the family.
Starting a garden is a great way to get your hands dirty and connect with nature. It's also an easy way for seniors to stay active, as gardening can be done from the comfort of one's own home. Even if you don’t have a large backyard, container gardening can be a way to bring greenery into your home or grow herbs and vegetables for cooking.
Don’t worry if you don’t believe you have a green thumb — there are plenty of low-maintenance plants for beginners!
7. Gaming Groups
Gaming groups are a great way to stay active and social, and there are many benefits for seniors. Gaming can help with memory, coordination, problem-solving skills, and more. It's also a fun way to connect with other people on a deeper level than just talking about the weather or current events.
Gaming could mean anything nowadays. Connect with others over card games, like we mentioned previously, or try out one of the many new board games! Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, or Cranium are great options to go beyond the classic Monopoly and Battleship. More complex tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder are great for the adventurous senior looking to really give their brain a creative and problem-solving workout!
Or try your hand at video games! Whether it’s an old favorite from the arcade brought to new life on a console or games like Super Smash Bros and Mario Cart, there are tons of video game hobby groups dedicated to playing both recreationally and competitively. Take a look on social media like Facebook for local groups, or start your own group with your friends and family.
Keeping your mind sharp and engaged is important at any age. The best way for your brain to stay active is through engagement — a term that refers not only to mental stimulation, but also to social interaction and physical activity.
We hope that this list of senior activities has inspired you to try something new. Trying new things and having new experiences are critical to keeping your brain healthy and active. And remember — you’re never too old to learn a new skill!