When the hours are endless and the days pile onto one another without much difference between a Sunday and a Thursday, life can get a little boring. Especially with senior adults, this is often the case. Many older adults prefer to “age in place”, living at home without much supervision or someone to help with everyday actions.
Establishing a daily routine will not only help seniors look forward to a productive day, but the discipline also has health benefits. Research shows that well planned days help older people sleep better, alleviate anxiety, and improves brain functions.
Apart from taking care of basic necessities like personal hygiene, cooking, and cleaning, either by themselves or with the help of a caregiver, other activities to fill in the free hours can help keep seniors healthy.
1. Learning a New Craft
Painting, crafting, and knitting are not hobbies reserved for children. Taking to creative arts can be therapeutic for seniors. Crafting can reduce stress, depression and anxiety because it gives the mind something to focus on and the end product induces a sense of achievement. Research indicates that the cognitive functions employed for complex quilting patterns are similar to those needed for solving crosswords. In fact, activities like knitting can reduce in the incidence of Alzheimer’s by 30-50%. Besides, it’s always exciting to learn a new skill!
2. Nurturing a Green Thumb
In general, spending time in nature is great for senior mental health. Taking to gardening has additional benefits. It is a low-impact physical activity that engages different joints and muscle groups without excessive stress. It can also help seniors clock in their required amount of time in the sun to soak in Vitamin D. Even for those suffering from dementia or other cognitive impairments, gardening can be a calming exercise that reduces agitation and improves concentration.
3. Simple Physical Exercise
If getting down and dirty in mud is not appealing, then any form of physical exercise that a senior can manage is a good idea. The World Health Organization suggests that seniors must do at least 150 minutes of moderately-intense aerobic activities every week. This can be walking, dancing, hiking, swimming, or even household work. For those who are unable to manage this on their own, getting a physiotherapist can be an option.
4. Taking to Reading
While physical activities are great for the body, reading regularly is an excellent mental exercise to keep the mind agile. Reading improves concentration, sharpens short-term memory, and also encourages new neural connections in the brain that can delay the onset of cognitive impairment. It reduces stress levels considerably; neuroscientists say that just six minutes of reading can lower stress by about two-thirds. For seniors who engage in regular reading, it can also help them stay in touch with the outside world even when they cannot get out much.
Growing old alone can be alienating. For seniors who do not enjoy much company at home, developing a regular socialization schedule can inculcate a sense of belonging and reduce loneliness. Meeting people regularly can also slow the rate of cognitive decline by 70%, research suggests. Seniors who meet friends and family often over dinner parties or just a walk tend to be calmer, happier, and healthier.
Ageing does not have to be monotonous. Engaging in safe and fun activities from the comfort of your own home can contribute to fulfilling golden days.