How to Keep Elderly Family Members Engaged in Old Age
Here are some ideas for keeping elderly family members engaged at home!
Building Blocks – they are not just for kids. Building blocks like LEGOs are a great way to keep adults busy. In fact, the company is embracing a whole new AFOL (adult fan of LEGOs) market. Building a LEGO project is a great way to build fine motor skills, engage in creativity and to use spatial reasoning. Many facilities actually use LEGOs for people who are challenged with memory loss or who have motor impairment challenges like arthritis. These kits are great for brain stimulation and for working on manual dexterity. In fact, the LEGO company is creating more adult-centered kits like their Birds, Ideas and Architecture collections, and they’ve definitely made an impact on an older audience.
Beyond LEGOs, there are many ways to keep elderly people engaged and living a high-quality life with sufficient physical activity and social interaction. Many of these activities help the elderly maintain independence as well. Keep in mind that many elderly people are inactive, bored and depressed, and that can lead to forgetfulness, so staying active and engaged is key to mental, physical and emotional health.
Many senior citizens like to stay at home or are fairly home bound due to health issues, but the isolation that occurs along with it is not good. There are many ways to maintain a connection, such as phone calls or a smart phone face-to-face video capability. Reach out to neighbors, friends and local churches to set up a visit schedule for people to drop in and chat.
For mental stimulation, encourage the person to listen to music or audio books to stimulate brain cells. Many elderly are lonely, so you may consider getting a pet for the elderly person. It can be a dog, cat, fish, bird or hamster, but just make sure it is a pet that the person is capable of caring for. Many community centers offer elderly activities and even elderly day care where your loved one can go for the day and play games and engage with other seniors. It is a great way to stay social and get that stimulation that is so important. Perhaps the elderly person can volunteer. There are so many places like schools and libraries that need volunteers; this is a great way for the elderly person to feel important and that they are part of a team or group.
Communities offer many elder exercise classes that your elderly loved one can participate in. Also consider taking a day trip to a community park or to a mall to get some walking in. Many studies have shown that staying fit does help with mobility and it gives people an emotional and social boost as well. Many gyms offer special classes geared for senior citizens; these classes focus on muscle strengthening and weight-bearing exercises to load bones to become stronger.
If the elderly person is a resident in an assisted living facility or a retirement community, the staff usually organizes many field trips and fun activities to keep older people engaged and not bored.
It is not always easy to keep an elderly person engaged and interested. One way is to vary activities and keep a lot of variety to hold their interest. If they feel uncomfortable or are afraid because they can’t move very well, that’s ok. Simply change to an activity they are comfortable with. Be sure to gently remind the person that inactivity can lead to poor mental and physical health, and think of fun ways to engage their body, mind and spirit! You can do it!