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Hobbies Help Keep Seniors Happy and Healthy

By Mike Clark

If you are a senior or the caregiver of a senior that wants to become more physically and mentally active then a great first step may be finding them the perfect hobby. Some seniors may be limited in their choices of hobbies due to physical or mental factors but there are still many options out there for anyone if you put some thought into it. This week we wanted to help you brainstorm a list of senior-friendly hobbies to get seniors moving mentally and/or physically!

Before we get started discussing different senior-friendly hobbies I wanted to talk about my wonderful 88-year-old mother-in-law Elaine to motivate anyone who says they are too old to do something. Elaine has been active her whole life and hasn’t let old age get in her way of staying that way. She is active in two different bowling leagues, square dances, teaches a water aerobics class for seniors, has a personal trainer, knits, sews, crochets, and is an avid reader(sometimes more than a book a week). Now I know what you’re thinking, that Elaine is not your typical 88 year old, and you would be right, but that is because she decided she wanted to set a different standard for being active in old age. She is also still very active in church activities such as choir and volunteer work. 

Being active has been extremely beneficial for her, it allowed her to take a 10 day trip to Israel 2 years ago where she did walking tours and kept up with all the other age groups that were younger than her. I am not sharing this with you to make you feel bad or guilty for not pushing yourself or a senior in your life to be more active. I simply want to show you that it is possible and age does not have to be an excuse to stop living your best life! 

After retirement, it is important to pursue your favorite pastimes, explore some new activities, and even get creative in different ways to be physically and socially active. There are a lot of hobbies for you to explore that will allow you to learn new skills, and give you additional knowledge to allow you to live your life to the fullest. It does not matter what your experience level is, most hobbies for seniors can be started with little previous knowledge.

Is learning a new hobby worth the effort?

According to The National Institute on Aging, there are a lot of benefits that seniors can gain by engaging in regular activity or hobbies. They report that some of the benefits are:

  • Reduced risk for developing health problems such as dementia
  • Longer lifespan
  • Increased rate of feeling happy and healthy
  • Greater sense of self-worth
  • Increased resiliency in the face of adversity and stress
  • Improved memory, comprehension, creativity, and problem-solving skills

 

These benefits alone should encourage you to broaden your interest in finding the right hobby or activity as you age. Here are some activities and hobbies that might pique your interest:

Learn to play an instrument

If you do not already know how to play an instrument then it is never too late to start.  Just think how great it would be to play your favorite music. You could even join with others that play instruments and have a jam session. Learning to play an instrument has many benefits for seniors such as increased neural connections which helps with your ability to learn, improved memory, and stress reduction.

Writing

It is never too late to write the great American novel. Well, I said that a little tongue in cheek but I wrote three children’s books in 2020 and had them published, and I was 60 at the time. If writing a novel is not what floats your boat, then I would encourage you to journal your life for future generations in your family. I know that I enjoyed listening to my grandparents tell about their lives. Writing as a senior has many health benefits such as improved memory and comprehension, stress reduction, self-confidence boost, and increased emotional intelligence.

Needlework

My wife is an avid cross-stitcher and needlework is a long-standing tradition in her family. Crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching are great indoor hobbies and can easily be learned by beginners. I know that my children and grandchildren love getting these special gifts made by my wide and her mother. Some health benefits of needlework for seniors include reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, decrease in anxiety and stress, improved sleep, boosted self-confidence, and provides a sense of community.

Puzzle Solving

Solving puzzles can give you a sharper mental acuity and quick wit. If you like solving puzzles then there are a lot of options available for you. You can do a jigsaw, crossword, sudoku, word search, and others to help keep you sharp and improve your cognitive function. There are also lots of mobile apps that can be great companions or even occupy a leisurely afternoon. Some health benefits of doing puzzles regularly are improved mood, encourages attention to detail, improves memory, and enhances problem-solving skills. 

So far we have talked about mostly indoor activities and hobbies and we have only scratched the surface on those, but I want to share some outdoor ideas as well.

Hiking and Walking

Exploring the great outdoors is good for you, whether you are blazing the great trails of Appalachian mountains, or taking a simple walk around the neighborhoods, being outdoors is one of the best things you can do for your health. It does not matter what part of the country you live in, there is a nearby park that can provide you with lots of wildlife, great views, and fresh air. Some health benefits of hiking and walking outside are better circulation, reduced arthritis pain, improved memory, increase in bone density, and improved cardiovascular health.

Geocaching

In what can only be described as a treasure hunt, geocaching is an outdoor activity that uses GPS coordinates to find hidden treasures called caches. I have to admit that I had never heard of anything before I did the research for this blog but find it quite interesting. You head to https://www.geocaching.com/play or download the app online then you get a mobile GPS device or use your smartphone to plug in the coordinates given for the geocache and go on a search for your treasure. Once you find the geocache you put your name down on the list of its previous finders and move on to the next one. This is a great activity to do alone, with friends, or with family!

Camping

This is something that I love to do. There is just something wonderful about spending the night outdoors in nature. If ruffing is not for you there are some state parks that offer lodges and hotels, or you can always rent a camper or RV. 

Gardening

This is another one of my favorite activities. I love putting my hands in the dirt and growing vegetables for our table and flowers for my wife.  Gardening is an activity that anyone can enjoy, whether it is potted plants in your home or planters outside. This is an activity that is very rewarding. We even wrote a series of blogs about gardening last year, go check them out. A few of the health benefits that come from gardening are stress reduction, increased muscle dexterity and strength, better heart health, an increase in Vitamin D intake which helps regulate and improve your mood, and a decreased risk of dementia!

This is by far not an exhaustive list of outdoor activities and hobbies for seniors but meant to spark your imagination and interest. Let’s switch gears a little and take a more sporting approach to senior living. If you are a more active senior like my mother-in-law then there are a lot more options for sports activities geared towards senior living.

Pickleball

Do you know what this sport is?  It’s okay if not because I didn’t until about 3 years ago. Pickleball is a great sport for seniors. This sport will get your motor running and can become very addictive. Growing in popularity, regardless of your age and skill level, pickleball is played with a whiffle ball and paddles. It is played on a court like a tennis but smaller and the rules are not the same. Youtube has lots of videos on this sport, so go check it out and see if this is something you may be interested in learning. Many local parks and recreation have public pickleball courts available!

Bowling

Like my mother-in-law, this sport can be played by any able active senior.  Bowling is a classic sport that is simple in concept but difficult to master and can be enjoyed by any skill level. This is also a great way to socialize and meet new people which is so important as a senior citizen.

Croquet

Croquet is a leisure activity that can be played on any lawn or outdoor space. This is a great social activity but is also a great way to get outside a move your body a little bit. 

We have only scratched the surface of activities and hobbies for seniors.  There are a lot of other activities that seniors can get involved in. You can take up painting, photography, bird watching, candle making, reading, and so very much more. Just get out there and try out some new activities and hobbies. Age is only a number and there is still so much life to be experienced in your senior years!

 

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Dwell at Home is not a licensed medical professional and all information provided is provided “as is” with no warranties. You should consult a licensed physician for any questions related to your health.  Dwell at Home makes no guarantee about any application or third-party website mentioned in any article on this website