Activities for the Elderly in Nursing Homes

What’s the recipe for success when it comes to helping your elderly charge or loved one stay active in their nursing home? Try a dash of creativity, a pinch of health benefits, and a mix of the following 7 (fun!) ideas:

Gentle Yoga: Gentle yoga or chair yoga incorporates relaxation and meditation with gentle flowing movements and stretches. This mindfulness practice is great for seniors in nursing homes and is proven to help boost overall mood, improve blood circulation, alleviate back and joint pain, and even combat cognitive decline.


Board Games: Board games, card games, and puzzles are favorites of seniors, including Chess, Checkers, Rummicub, Pictionary, and Backgammon. Mentally challenging games and puzzles not only fight memory loss, but they help residents practice problem-solving and interact with others socially.


Community Gardening: Get residents in on the beauty and enjoyment of maintaining the grounds by having flower planting or watering projects where they can take part in the work. Not only is getting outside in the sun beneficial for their health and wellbeing, but actively taking part in an activity (like planting or watering flowers at the entrance of the facility), which also benefits others, is fulfilling and confidence-building.


Spa Day: Soothe the senses with a simulated spa day that involves listening to peaceful and meditative music, aromatherapy with fragrant candles, and mini hand, foot or head massages by volunteers or staff. Sensory activities like this are great for residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s and can foster peace, relieve stress and boost positive moods.


Low-impact Games: Fun physical games that involve moderate activity are great for elderly residents. Target throwing can be done sitting down or standing up – simply place a large circular target on the ground with colored areas that correspond to point levels, and have residents take turns tossing bean bags onto the target to get points.

Another FUN, heart-pumping, game is Paddle Balloons. Quickly construct paper paddles out of large popsicle sticks and paper plates, and have residents use them to hit blown up balloons back and forth to one another.


Karaoke Night: Really hit the nostalgic notes with a karaoke night filled with old standards and classic hits residents will love hearing again and again. Music can be particularly positive for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s – songs evoke emotions and memories, and singing with others is engaging and stimulates brain activity.


Digital Puzzles: For elderly residents with arthritis or who have some visual impairment, playing cards or handling small board game pieces can be difficult. A digital alternative for the games and puzzles they love might just be the answer instead. Free games like Sudoku and Scrabble can be downloaded to a computer or tablet, giving players the option to enlarge the screen and play with the simple click of a mouse or tap of their finger.


Don’t forget the importance of staying active.  Find ways to keep your loved one busy to really reap the rewards.  Keeping busy as we age not only improves our physical health but mental health as well.  You’ll see that providing challenges and activities each day stimulates the mind and leads to happier (healthier) aging.
If you don’t use it…you’ll lose it!


Written bye Joe Fleming

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