Aging doesn’t mean you stop having fun. Many elderly adults want to stay active and there are thankfully a lot of ways they can do that.
About 25% of adults in the U.S. play a sport and that includes many elderly adults. A lot of sports are great for older adults, such as swimming, tennis, golf and more. These kinds of activities for elderly adults provide not only a great way to stay fit, but also a great way to meet people and be part of a community.
For many elderly adults, staying active is not just about being physically fit. It is also a way to stay active in communities and meet friends at a similar stage in their lives. Physical activity can be a fantastic way to bond and feel like you have support and community around you.
If you are looking for ways to stay active, try these seven tips for finding activities for elderly adults.
1. Get the OK from Your Doctor
First, talk to your medical doctor about any activities you plan to start up. Not all activities are right for everyone, regardless of their age.
Talking to a doctor can be especially important for elderly adults but they may have health conditions they are trying to manage. Sometimes, physical activity can help with those conditions and make them better. However, there could be risks you aren’t aware of due to health conditions.
For example, tennis might not be a great activity if falls are a concern. While people don’t often fall while playing tennis, it is a possibility so you might need to consider that if you have certain health conditions to manage.
Your doctor might be able to recommend activities for elderly adults with similar health conditions to your own. They could have suggestions for things that will boost your health without putting you at risk of harm.
An example might be something like hiking. A gentle hike can get you moving but doesn’t have the same risk of impact that something like tennis would have. Or if you have tender joints, they might suggest swimming, where some of that pressure is relieved by the water.
Things are even more complicated if you’ve recently gotten some kind of surgery. Definitely talk to your doctor about activities for elderly adults if this is the case. The healing that comes after surgery is crucial for your recovery so you don’t want to jeopardize that with a risky activity.
Plus, it is likely that if you rest and recover you’ll be back on your feet more quickly than if you push it and try to go back to activities too quickly.
2. Search for Activities in Your Community
Depending on where you live, you can look for activities for elderly adults in your community.
If you have your own home, you might look for a nearby senior center. This is usually a place that is only open for the day, with no one staying overnight or living there. Senior centers are great places to find a community and activities.
Get started by calling the senior center or visiting their website. They will often have a schedule they can provide that will list all their activities that are coming up. This might include exercise classes and bingo nights, but it also could include field trips and group outings.
If you live in independent senior living or assisted senior living, you likely already know that there is a community around you. You should look up the bulletin to find activities that the senior living center is organizing. It is likely that the place where you live already has the facilities and organization in place to help you find activities for elderly adults.
But what if you don’t live in a senior living center or near a general senior center? In such a case, you might have to do more of the legwork yourself.
If you know other seniors in your area, you can organize your own groups with them. It could be as simple as agreeing to meet at the park every Wednesday at 3. Or you could make it a formal group if you post on social media or put up fliers to advertise.
3. Transform Your Chores
Activities for elderly adults don’t always have to be fancy and formal. You can take the kinds of things you are already doing and re-imagine them to turn them into activities.Chores might not sound very fun, and they often aren’t, but with the right mindset you can change the way you look at these kinds of duties.
Take pool cleaning, for example. Maybe you currently pay for a pool cleaning service. What would happen if you stopped paying for that service and did the cleaning yourself? Sure, it’s not the most fun job, but you could make it more enjoyable if you thought of it as a simple and easy way to get moving once a week or so.
The same goes for other chores. Vacuuming is more active than it seems at first blush. Gardening is a great way to feel like you can connect with nature. Cleaning out old junk might lead to some new discoveries.
One of the best is lawn maintenance. Mowing the lawn can definitely work up a sweat. It’s no easy task.
Often, mowing the lawn is thought of as absolute drudgery. What if you changed your perspective though? Put on some music or a podcast while you’re mowing. After you work up a sweat doing that yard work, reward yourself with a dip in the pool or maybe a relaxing bath.
If you are creative, you can change the way you look at your day-to-day chores and tasks and transform them into activities for elderly adults. The fact that they must get done can push you to get moving on days you might be feeling lazy about physical activity.
4. Figure Out What You Can Have at Home
Speaking of tasks and chores at home, think about the kinds of activities for elderly adults that you can do right there in your home. Having some games and equipment at home can make it easier for you to stay active, as you won’t have to travel to get your fix.
If you can afford a pool, it is a great thing for older adults to have in their home. Pools let you get active without straining sore muscles and joints too much. Plus, it just feels nice.
You don’t need to do laps to get the benefits. Even just floating with a decent book and idly paddling your legs can be a nice, gentle way to get moving some days.
Of course, the trouble with pools is that they require maintenance and pool repair. Make sure you can do that maintenance or afford to get help with it if you are thinking of getting a pool.
If a pool just isn’t enough for you, many seniors get boats. This is obviously not an option available to everyone, but there are many activities for elderly adults that a boat can facilitate. A fishing trip can be a great and relaxing day. Or you can simply ride out and catch the sunset on the water.
You likely will need to pay for separate boat storage, though some homes do have boat storage options.
Activities for elderly adults at home don’t need to be this complicated. They can be as simple as a TV and a video game console. Many elderly adults have found that things like Wii Fit provide a great way to get moving right at home with simple games and exercises that are also very fun.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do if you want to be active at home is figure out what your home and budget will allow. It can be as simple as some board games or as complicated as a whole boat.
5. Join a Team
If there is a specific sport or game you enjoy, search for a team you could join!
In many places, there are sports teams specifically for seniors. These teams provide activities for elderly adults, as well as the camaraderie of being part of a team. They are a great way to stay active and meet other seniors.
Make sure whatever sport you choose is right for you. You could try baseball, soccer, tennis or a host of other sports. You might even find something you never thought about trying before. Go for it! Taking the leap might be intimidating but it could result in deep friendships and a new activity that you love.
Of course, if you have any injuries or health concerns, talk with your doctor about those before taking up a sport. For example, if you’ve recently needed orthopedic surgery, higher impact sports might not be the best option for you right now. Your doctor may be able to recommend better activities for elderly adults.
6. Eat Healthy
While you are doing all this moving, don’t forget about your diet. A healthy diet is crucial for anyone who is trying to be and stay active, senior or not.
If you aren’t sure where to start with your nutrition, try writing out what you currently eat. You might discover patterns. For example, are you snacking a lot on things that aren’t necessarily very healthy? How might you switch out those unhealthy snacks for better ones?
Even a small change like this can make a huge impact in your overall health. Trading the chips for some fresh fruit, even dipped in chocolate, can transform your whole diet for the better.
If you want to get more in-depth, you could talk to a doctor or nutritionist about ways to really ramp up your diet. You might find that when you start doing more activities you aren’t consuming enough protein, for example. Things like beans and certain vegetables can actually give you a big protein boost without making meals super heavy and filling.
If you ask a doctor about activities for elderly adults, they might also have dietary suggestions related to those activities. Take that advice seriously and see how you can make changes and tweaks to your diet.
It doesn’t need to be all or nothing though. Even a small change can have a large impact. Start with little things that you feel like you can commit to before trying to go for a big dramatic change that might be harder to keep up with consistently.
7. Don’t Ignore Aches and Pains
Another thing to keep in mind while engaging in activities for elderly adults are the aches and pains you might feel in your body. It’s important to listen to your body, especially if you are starting up a brand new activity or going from being more stationary to suddenly being much more active.
Some soreness and pain is normal, especially if these activities are new for you. However, you don’t want to let that kind of thing go on for so long that it develops into something serious.
Do you know what causes pelvic pain or why you might suddenly develop tennis elbow? Most of us don’t without the help of a doctor to explain these sorts of things. That’s why we shouldn’t ignore even minor aches and pains if they are persistent enough.
It isn’t just sore muscles you should keep an eye on as you take up activities for elderly adults. If you wear yourself down too much, you could be more susceptible to colds and illnesses. Is it just hayfever or is it something more serious?
Don’t find out the hard way. You are probably getting more active at least partially for your health, so pay attention to your health while doing this. A cold could be the result of your body just being too tired from so much activity.
There are a lot of things to consider while taking up activities for elderly adults. When you find the community and the right activity, though, you will likely find you’ve found not just a new exercise but a whole new way of life that makes you feel great.