Fun Activities to Keep Seniors Active and Engaged in Later Life
Senior citizens often feel bored and alone because of age-related health and mobility issues that prevent them from getting out regularly and connecting with friends. Thankfully, there are many physical and social activities you can perform that aren’t too strenuous yet stimulating and fun. From keeping busy with games and puzzles at home to participating in activities hosted by social clubs nearby, seniors can explore various opportunities to stay active and engaged.
Fun games for seniors
There are many games for seniors, but you may not enjoy them all. Categorizing the games into groups will help you determine which ones you and your peers will love the most, and that’s exactly what we’ll do here. What’s fun about these games is that some have no fixed rules, which builds suspense and excitement. You can even create a simple game for your own group inspired by these options!
Board games can be a fun and engaging activity for seniors who spend most of their day indoors. You can choose from a variety of board games, such as:
Classic board games
Classics like Chess, Checkers, and Backgammon are excellent choices for seniors. They’re familiar, easy to learn, and provide a good mental workout.
Bridge, Poker, and Gin Rummy are more enjoyable for seniors who have played them before, but they also provide an opportunity to learn new card games.
Scrabble, Boggle, and Bananagrams are excellent word games that help seniors maintain their vocabulary and language skills while having fun.
Trivia games like Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy!, and Brain Quest are great if you enjoy learning and testing your knowledge.
Risk, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride are popular strategy games that intrigue seniors who like to plan and strategize.
Games like Pandemic, Forbidden Island, and Flash Point: Fire Rescue require players to work together to achieve a common goal.
Choose board games that are not too complex or physically demanding and provide a balance of challenge and fun.
Outdoor games enable seniors to indulge in physical activity and social interaction and enjoy fresh air. Here are a few games you can play in teams or individually:
This low-impact game involves rolling a ball as close as possible to a target ball. It’s a fantastic way to socialize and add movement to a senior’s daily routine.
This is a classic outdoor game where participants throw horseshoes at a target, challenging their accuracy and strength.
Shuffleboard involves sliding pucks down a narrow court, with the aim of getting them as close as possible to the far end without falling off the side. It’s a low-impact game you can enjoy year-round.
Croquet is a classic outdoor game that involves hitting balls through hoops with a mallet. It’s a great social activity for seniors that requires strategy and skill.
Frisbee golf, also known as disc golf, requires participants to throw a frisbee at a target, typically a metal basket. It’s a fun way to exercise and enjoy fresh air.
Lawn bowling involves rolling large balls along a flat lawn with the aim of getting them as close as possible to a target. It’s a low-impact game that seniors of all abilities can enjoy.
Choose outdoor games that are safe, low-impact, and, at the same time, enjoyable for seniors. They should provide a balance of physical activity and social interaction.
Group games provide you with an opportunity to mingle with senior citizens nearby and make new friends. Let’s look at a few popular group activities you can try:
Bingo is a classic game you can play with a large group of seniors. It’s easy to learn and can challenge your memory and concentration power.
In this game, you act out a word or phrase and let your friends guess it. Besides being an icebreaker, Charades is a great way to exercise creativity and imagination.
Year of invention
When playing year of invention, you choose a set of important things, such as the telephone, automobile, television, and internet, and note the years when they were invented. The seniors are then divided into two or more teams. One participant from each team takes turns reading out the name of an invention while the other team members try to guess the year when it was invented. Each team may be given a buzzer or bell that they can ring to signal that they know the answer. The team that buzzes in first with the correct answer earns a point! Want to make the game more challenging? Add questions like who invented the invention, what was its original purpose, and how has it evolved. Mentally stimulating and trivia-filled, this is among the most fun things to do with other senior citizens.
Name that tune
This game might be perfect if you and your friends love music and want to bring back memories of favorite songs and artists. It involves listening to a short clip of a song and guessing the title and singer.
If doodling is your forte, you’ll enjoy Pictionary, where you draw a word or phrase and have others guess what it is. Pictionary lets participants explore their creative side and can be played by seniors of all abilities.
The game involves coming up with words that begin with a key letter and fit into specific categories. It can have different difficulty levels, making it fun and challenging, and it can be played with a large group of seniors.
When selecting a group game, ensure it’s something everyone in your circle can participate in and enjoy. Ask your friends what they would like to play and then choose something the majority agrees upon.
Importance of games for seniors
Play is essential for everyone, more so for seniors. It can help you stay active, healthy, and socially connected and provide other holistic and lasting advantages. Let’s look at a few benefits of games and activities for the elderlies:
Outdoor games and sports require moving your body, which can help you stay active and healthy physically. It can stop you from falling ill or developing problems like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Playing games can also provide brain stimulation, helping you maintain mental sharpness and prevent cognitive decline. Games that involve strategy, problem-solving, and memory can be especially beneficial.
Senior activities and games can help you socialize and connect with others your age, reducing social isolation and loneliness, which are common problems among seniors. Group games are especially beneficial for promoting social interaction.
Playing games can be a great way to relax and keep aside those thoughts that worry you. It can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression in your golden years.
Play can also improve mood and provide an overall sense of well-being. Engaging in activities with others can help you feel happier and more fulfilled.
Social clubs to keep seniors engaged
Being a part of a local club can help seniors meet new people of the same age. There are many senior clubs around the country, and you can easily find one in your neighborhood too. Some may nurture specific interests like gardening or writing, while others may just be for social interaction and engagement. Find some popular options below:
National Seniors Games Association
This may be the right social club if you’re an athlete or an active senior. The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) hosts a multi-sport event every two years in the country for men and women who are 50 years old or above. It features many activities you may enjoy, like swimming, cycling, golf, tennis, and track and field games. The association’s first sporting event for senior citizens was held in 1987, following which it slowly gathered support from many older adults across the country. The objective of the NSGA is to incorporate discipline into the lives of seniors and promote an active lifestyle. Since the games promote friendly competition, it fosters camaraderie among the participants.
National Audubon Society
Seniors who love nature, especially bird watching, might want to join the National Audubon Society, a nonprofit dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats. Although not a senior-specific group, it welcomes the elderly with open arms. The society organizes various activity programs for seniors that aim to tackle climate change, protect water resources, and preserve the coastland, all of which help birds thrive. It can be an excellent opportunity to engage with seniors with similar interests, exchange knowledge on birdwatching and conservation, and be part of policy and legislation that protects birds and their habitats.
The American Association of Retired Persons, popularly called the AARP, is a nonprofit that supports the interests of people aged 50 and above. Founded in 1958, it has over 38 million members in our country today. This organization provides seniors with a wide range of services, like financial planning tools, travel and entertainment discounts, advocacy for issues that affect them, and health and insurance coverage options. It also tries to make a difference by lobbying for policies and legislations that benefit senior citizens, such as Social Security, Medicare, and consumer protection. Being a part of the AARP can provide you an opportunity to change the lives of other seniors who need help and security.
SilverSneakers is a popular fitness program specifically designed for seniors. One reason it’s sought-after is that many health insurance plans in the country cover the costs of the program’s fitness classes, gyms, and wellness resources. Being a part of SilverSneakers can help you improve your overall health through activities like yoga, Zumba, and line dancing that are challenging yet fun. To make the program accessible, SilverSneakers has partnered with more than 16,000 fitness centers and gyms across the country. These gyms provide a myriad of classes for seniors, keeping in mind the mobility challenges they may have. It can be a great club to join, considering physical fitness is such an important part of elderly care. If you have friends who would like to explore this club with you, tell them about it. Exercising with a buddy would be more fun and satisfying.
AmeriCorps Seniors (formerly known as Senior Corps) is a federal initiative that enables older adults aged 55 and above to become volunteers and address critical community needs. It has many programs you can get involved with, three notable ones being:
- The Foster Grandparents Program that provides one-on-one mentoring and support to children with special needs.
- The Senior Companion Program that helps seniors with daily tasks and provides companionship.
- The RSVP, or Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, where volunteers serve in different community organizations, like schools, hospitals, and food banks.
AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers receive training and support from the organization and benefit from a modest stipend, mileage reimbursement, and other perks for their time and effort.
The Red Hat Society
The Red Hat Society is perfect for women over 50 years old looking for fun activities and an opportunity to socialize. It was founded in 1998 by Sue Ellen Cooper, who was inspired by a poem titled “Warning” by Jenny Joseph. The poem talks about wearing a red hat and purple clothing in old age as a form of rebellion against societal expectations. For every event of the Red Hat Society, its members wear red hats and purple clothing as a show of solidarity. What these events offer women is a safe space for them to express their ideas, enjoy, and participate in various activities without fear of judgment or insecurity. The events don’t cater to specific interests but promote all kinds of activities for women—fun, interactive, and even adventurous. The Red Hat Society is not just a national social club; it spreads across borders, and you can meet people through online forums as well. Find a local meeting nearby to get started and explore to your heart’s liking!
If you’re an avid reader, joining a book club can be an exciting addition to your activities list. Book clubs help seniors meet like-minded people, discuss philosophy and ideology, and challenge their thought processes. Two popular clubs in the country you’ll want to check out are Heritage Book Club and Senior Planet Book Club. There will likely be a book club in your locality too. Ask a neighbor or friend to help you find out if there’s a senior citizen book center nearby.
Gardening is a fun outdoor activity for old people who love nature. Planting a seed and watching it grow under your care is soothing and relaxing. While gardening is something you can do alone, joining a club is a good idea if you’ve never tried your hand at it. When you join a club, other members can share their knowledge and provide tips to keep your plants and flowers from getting infected by weeds or insects. The learning is truly immense, and you get to interact with like-minded people who will always be there to support you if you have questions about your new hobby.
Recreational centers and events
Besides playing games and joining social clubs, seniors can register at recreational centers within their local state or community to stay active and engaged later in life. Different centers offer different types of recreation activities for seniors. For example, if you live in Washington, DC and register with the government’s Department of Parks and Recreation, you can explore these senior programs:
- DC Senior Games: It’s a week-long athletics event for senior athletes. You can participate or just be an audience and cheer on your peers.
- Senior Aquatics: This program helps seniors feel comfortable in the water and teaches them to swim, which can be refreshing, especially during the summers.
- Senior Camp: It helps seniors aged 55 or above fulfill their dream of camping. You can choose to go for an overnight camp somewhere local or visit other countries on a group tour.
- Environment: Under this program, seniors get involved in gardening activities at community kitchen gardens and produce fresh vegetables and fruits for the community. Turning a deserted piece of land into a field of produce is an affirming experience.
- Leisure programs: The department hosts classic card games and social activities for the elderly in collaboration with other local recreational centers.
- Sports: You can spend time playing low-stress competitive sports like slowpitch softball, pickleball, and tennis at the rec center.
- Exercises: Chair exercises, walk fit classes, and light cardio are all part of the department’s senior health and wellness program.
Like Washington, DC, governments of many cities run recreation and community centers for citizens that host specific activities exclusively for the elderly. For instance, Baltimore, MD’s Department of Recreation and Parks hosts line dancing classes, cultural arts programs, and regional day trips for senior citizens. Recreation centers restrict these activities to seniors belonging to specific age groups, such as those above 55, 60, or even 80 years.
Being a part of a community center will make it easy for you to participate in activities you’ve always wanted to try your hands at, like gardening, painting, and traveling. So, try to learn about the senior events happening in your locality. Even if you don’t feel like participating, just drop by the center on event days to socialize with peers of the same age and interests.