There are lots of things we can control in this world, but getting old isn’t one of them. And as we grow old it’s only a question of time before our health starts to deteriorate, both physically and mentally. Loss of mobility, memory loss, isolation, loneliness, depression, increased aches and pains… the list goes on and on. It doesn’t paint a rosy picture that’s for sure. However, life goes on and there are plenty of activities that elderly people can do to keep them as healthy and fit as possible so that they can continue to do the things they love as well as to keep their days busy and enjoyable.
Read on to discover 5 ways you can help elderly people stay connected and busy with activities they can do in their own home.
It’s Good To Talk
I hope I’m not stereotyping too much here, but old people love a good chat don’t they, especially if it’s stories about the past. However, the problem is there may be some days where they literally see no one. As caring family members you’d love to be able to see your elderly relatives all the time, but of course that isn’t always possible. You have your own life, your own family, your own commitments, which means you simply don’t have the time. Which is why an at home care provider could be the ideal solution to ensure your loved one not only receives extra assistance around the home, but also human contact on a daily basis. Someone to talk to, to interact with, a point of contact to the outside world, from outside their own four walls. Some home care providers, like Country Cousins, also offer live-in-care services which may include short and long term home care for the elderly, respite care, and care for dementia, and this means they can have company 24/7.
Physical health problems aside, research shows that loneliness increases the risk of developing a variety of physical and mental conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and Alzheimer’s disease, which is why it’s more important than ever to combat loneliness in older age. Talking about the past is particularly beneficial to dementia sufferers because despite their short term memory deteriorating, their long term memories are awash with details. Encourage them to chat and reminisce about the good old days, blow the dust off of the photo albums, and enjoy hearing about the interesting chapters that make up this person’s life story.
They say charity begins at home, so why not take it one step further and encourage your elderly relative to take up some charity work at home. Just look at Captain Tom Moore, who at the grand old age of 99 (he celebrated his 100th birthday not long after) walked 100 laps of his garden and raised millions for the NHS to help support their work during the coronavirus pandemic. He also then went on to do a duet with Michael Ball and has just been given a knighthood by the Queen. What an inspiration and a true reminder that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
Raising money for a charitable cause is a fantastic way to keep busy and to feel that much needed sense of purpose – they may be older but they’re certainly not past it! And even if the older person lacks mobility or is housebound, there are still plenty of things they can do to raise money or support their local community or a charity of their choice. Some ideas include: knitting or crocheting blankets or hats for premature babies, sewing PPE wear or face masks as protection against coronavirus, or even helping to assemble care packages for those less fortunate. It doesn’t even have to be something that raises money, just a random act of kindness that helps others out who need it, while at the same time creating that glowy inner feeling of accomplishment from having done something so selfless and kind.
Get Tech Savvy
I’m sure since lockdown we’ve all become better equipped at using video chat apps like Zoom, well we’ve had to haven’t we!?! However, all this social apps malarkey can be confusing for elderly people and they don’t always necessarily have the gadgets to try and fathom it out anyway. So why not make it your mission to get them trained up in the ways of digital social connection by sitting down with them and downloading some apps they might find useful and showing them how to navigate through them. Remember to be patient and not condescending; they are adults, not children after all.
Video chats may seem daunting at first, but they are a fantastic way to stay connected, plus who can’t help but feel cheerful when seeing the smiling face of someone you know pop up on your screen. It offers the opportunity to connect with friends and family members that older people may have lost contact with, or who live miles away, or even in another country. There are no oceans to cross if you have good Wi Fi!
And it’s not just social apps that have their benefits, there are also a multitude of other apps that are great for helping people to keep busy at home. From online games, crosswords, colour by numbers, brain teasers, tutorials, eBooks and many, many more, there is plenty to be getting on with.
A lot of people lose a certain degree of mobility as they enter the later years of their life, but this doesn’t mean they should stop exercise altogether. No, the old adage ‘use it or lose it’ is more important than ever, although it is essential to choose the right activities and to do them safely so as to avoid injury and further risk to health.
There are plenty of chair based exercises that can be found online, so do some research about the best ones to target certain areas or that take into account restricted movement. YouTube is always a good place to start, or ask around the local community as there may be specialist personal trainers who can come into their home and put them through their paces.
Gentle exercise will not only help to keep the body from functioning well, but it will also help with weight maintenance or even weight loss, which is of particular importance to people who are housebound. And we all know how good exercise makes us feel afterwards, when all those happy stress-busting endorphins come out to play.
You could even think about setting up a Nintendo Wii for them, as it comes with a wide range of interactive games that can be played from the comfort of a chair, but that also involve movement. Sport loving seniors will reignite their competitive natures when playing games such as bowling, tennis, golf, or basketball without even having to leave the house.
Try Something New
I know the saying goes that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but we think that’s a load of old poppycock. You’re never to old to try new things and taking up a new hobby is a great way to keep seniors busy while also stimulating their minds. There may be something they’ve always wanted to try or to learn and it could just be that in the past they haven’t had the time to pursue a pastime. Well, now they have plenty of time, so encourage them to broaden their horizons.
Keeping busy with an activity is good for mental health and can provide some light relief from anything bad going on around us, which is especially relevant during these uncertain times. The coronavirus pandemic has left many of us feeling anxious, tired, unmotivated and more isolated than ever, and this is even more prevalent among older people living on there own, who may go for days without seeing anyone.
Starting a new project, such as learning a language, painting, scrapbooking, knitting, completing crossword and word puzzles, or researching a family tree for example, is a great way to keep the mind active and alert, as well as instilling a sense of purpose.
It can be hard for loved ones to see their elderly relatives struggling to adjust to lifestyle changes and you may worry about how they will cope if they live on their own. There are lots of care service providers, charities and community support groups out there who can help, so ask for help and explore the different options available. All of us get older, but deep down we remain the same person we’ve always been and so to lead our best lives it’s important we keep active and busy in a way that suits our current situation.