Once the temperature drops and the days get shorter, it can be tempting for seniors to simply hibernate in their homes until the warmer weather reappears in spring. Although relaxing, spending countless hours in front of the fireplace or television is detrimental to senior health.
Luckily, you don’t have to let the cold weather dictate your loved one’s activity levels. Whether you keep your loved one active with brain games for the elderly or with arts and crafts, there are plenty of indoor activities for seniors that allow you to spend quality time with them while benefitting their mental and physical health.
Focus on Fitness
Not only is exercise an essential component of maintaining senior health, but it’s also one of the best stress-relieving activities for caregivers. While snowy weather may keep you and your loved one indoors, it’s still possible to stay physically active with these tips:
- Move around your home. If your loved one is having difficulty finding the motivation to become more active, start with something small. Encourage them to get up at every commercial that comes on to the television or visit each room in the house at least once a day. This will help increase your loved one’s desire to do more.
- Take long walks. The home isn't the only place where your loved one can move around. If you’re planning on going to the supermarket, department store or mall, bring your loved one with you. Walking is a great low-impact exercise that will get your loved one’s heart rate up and improve their mobility.
- Clean the house. Since clutter typically builds up in your loved one’s home during the wintertime, you both need to be vigilant about cleaning each room. Not only will this burn calories, but it’s also a key step in preventing elderly falls. Once the clutter is gone, you can vacuum and dust, which will also burn calories.
- Sign up for a class. Your local gym or community center are bound to offer a multitude of classes you and your loved one can enjoy together, but if you’re still not sure which class to take, yoga classes have been shown to provide benefits for both seniors and caregivers. There are also classes that have been specifically designed for seniors that have popped up across the country. A quick internet search can help you find a class in your neighborhood.
- Use fitness DVDs. If snow keeps you from traveling to your fitness class, you can still get a workout at home with fitness DVDs. To ensure that your loved one reaps the most benefits, get a small collection of DVDs that feature a variety of exercises. You can also buy reasonably-priced fitness equipment, like a mat and hand weights, to keep at home.
Play Brain Games for the Elderly
In addition to regular physical activity, staying mentally active is just as important for senior health. You can find plenty of brain games for the elderly online, but if your loved one isn’t as tech-savvy, these indoor activities for seniors will keep your loved one’s mind sharp as they age:
- Read books from every genre. Reading is one of the most brain-stimulating activities for seniors, and to ensure that your loved one’s mind gets an even more intensive workout, rent books from the library where you’ll have access to literature from every genre. You can even read the same books as your loved one and discuss it once you’ve both finished it -- almost like a mini-book club!
- Do puzzles. Sudoku, crossword puzzles and memory challenges are the most popular brain games for the elderly, but if your loved one prefers jigsaw puzzles, you can order jigsaw puzzles specifically designed for seniors. These puzzles are made with larger pieces so they’re easier to pick up, but the difficulty level is maintained.
- Learn a new language together. Is there a language your loved one always wanted to learn? Or did they learn a language years ago but can’t quite remember how to speak it? Learning, or relearning, a new language is both challenging and rewarding for you and your loved one. There are both online apps and CDs that you can buy to help you learn the new language of your choice.
- Schedule a game night. Not only are board games like Scrabble, Clue and Monopoly fun and brain-stimulating, but planning a weekly game night with family or friends will help fend off feelings of isolation and depression that are so common among seniors in the wintertime.
Working on a creative project is the perfect way for your loved one to take a break from watching television or using other technology throughout the day. Similar to playing brain games for the elderly, promoting your loved one’s creativity with these activities will keep your loved one’s mind active:
- Make a photo album. Does your loved one have a lot of photos in their home? Create a scrapbook together. Not only will this clear up some of the clutter in the home, but it will also give them a chance to reminisce on beloved memories while creating a keepsake the whole family will cherish.
- Create a family cookbook. If your loved one loves to cook but is no longer able to make meals for themselves, help them organize a cookbook filled with your family’s favorite recipes. This way your loved one still feels active in the kitchen.
- Do arts and crafts. Whether it’s painting, knitting, crocheting or simply making crafts, all of these indoor activities for seniors help ensure that your loved one’s mind stays active as they age.
Try Indoor Gardening
Although gardening is typically associated with spring and summer, indoor gardening can be done year-round and comes with many benefits. Whether it’s inside or outside, gardening helps alleviate stress and depression, making it an ideal activity for both seniors and caregivers. As an added bonus, indoor gardening will add color and life to your loved one’s home in the middle of the dreary winter season.
If your loved one is hesitant to try indoor gardening because they never had much luck before, below is a list of plants that are very easy for seniors to cultivate inside of their home:
- African Violet
- Aloe Vera
- Amazon Elephant Ear
- Avocado Plant
- Boston Fern
Ensuring Senior Health at Home
All of these indoor activities for seniors are perfect for you and your loved one to enjoy together, but as a caregiver, it can be difficult for you to always be with them in the wintertime. This puts your loved one at risk of experiencing an accident or emergency when they are alone, but luckily with a Medical Guardian medical alert device, your loved one’s safety is guaranteed in any situation. Whether they experience a fall, medical emergency, power outage or house fire, all they have to do is push a button and help is on the way.