Human beings are created as social creatures, and that doesn’t change as we age. In fact, we often need social engagement as we age. Activities for seniors, particularly social activities, can help us live a rich and fulfilling life in our senior years. So, if you find some of the ideas in this article of interest, you can then find activity partners and create social engagements.
We seem to have an inherent understanding that we need human companionship, and that without it there can be some rather deleterious outcomes. Studies have long shown that prolonged solitary confinement can cause some rather strange mental results in prisoners.
Might there be serious consequences for a senior exposed to long periods of loneliness and isolation as well?
Health Consequences of Isolation for Seniors
According to the CDC, we know that roughly a third of American adults 45 or older report feeling lonely. We also know that approximately a quarter of adults aged 65 or older are socially isolated.
That’s a rather significant portion of the American population. But what does this mean from a practical standpoint? From the health data we have, it doesn’t mean anything good. We need engagement with others, and, as during a global pandemic, we can’t get out and socialize as much as we might otherwise like, we need to at least be mindful of this and look for ways to stay positive while stuck at home.
We know that prolonged social isolation significantly increases one’s risk of death from all causes. One has a 32% increased risk of experiencing a stroke, a 29% increased risk of developing heart disease, and for those already diagnosed with heart failure, there is a 4x greater risk of death, a 68% increased risk of hospitalization, and a 57% increased risk in ER visits.
It appears as if friends are good for our hearts.
Your Brain Needs Friends
That’s not all we know though. The adage of ‘use it or lose it’ seems to apply to our brains as well. One can safely argue that those who are lonely and socially isolated aren’t having the opportunity to interact with as many people daily as those who aren’t.
As a result, they’re not getting to engage the part of their brain that’s responsible for conversation, empathy, thought, speech, and the like. Does this end up leading to mental decline?
The research seems to support such a conclusion. Those who are socially isolated or feel lonely for a prolonged period have a 50% increased risk of developing dementia.
So, it’s not just our hearts that need other people, it appears as if our brains need human interaction as well.
But is there more? It appears so.
Community Results in Overall Better Health
A 2019 study in the Journal of Gerontology (source) found that older adults who interacted with people outside of their family unit and very close circle of friends actually engaged in more physical activity and had overall better moods as well.
In other words, it’s fun to be healthy in this regard!
Anomalies such as the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, where an incredibly tight knit community seemed to make people virtually invulnerable to heart disease, further indicate the health-protective effects of being part of a community. This became known as the Roseto effect.
What are Some Great Group Activities for Seniors?
By this point you’ve probably conclude that community is good for seniors. And it is! That’s a good conclusion to draw!
What are some great ideas for getting seniors together though? Check out our following list:
At times when bad weather is afoot, injuries keep one from being more physically active, or when you’re just looking for a more leisurely means of getting everyone together, here are some excellent ideas to consider.
Keep in mind that there are already clubs for all of these games throughout the nation. A simple internet search can help you to discover if there are any in your region already, and if not, why not start your own?
Fliers posted in churches, newspapers, nursing homes, restaurants, and other spots where seniors are liable to see will help to get the word out so that as many people as possible will know about your new chance to escape from the house.
If you’re looking for something with a bit more movement involved, here are a few active ideas to get your mental juices flowing. Once more, keep in mind that there are already clubs for many of these activities in your area already.
- Fly Fishing
- Gym Classes
- Horse riding
- Metal Detecting
- Nature walks
- Skeet shooting
Perhaps you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house and go exploring. If you’re looking to see something new, here are a few ideas that will help you to continue to discover the world around you.
- Art shows
- Baking bread
- Bird watching
- Comedy clubs
- Crossword puzzles
- Deep sea fishing
- Historical sites
- Kite Flying
- Learning a new instrument
- Learning a new language
- Nature photography
- Other Ideas
- Quilt Making
- Railroad tours
- Sporting events
- Theme parks
- Writers’ meetings
What Are Some Great Activity Ideas for Seniors?
If you’re looking for something to do just on your own time – without a lot of other people around now – the good news is that virtually everything listed above can be done by an individual as well. Other activities you may enjoy, include:
- Book binding
- Browsing local bookstores
- Coin collecting
- Exploring your genealogy
- Ham radio
- Letter writing
- Playing with a dog
- Raising an herb garden
- Raising chickens
- Watching movies
- Writing memoirs
Coming up with activities for seniors is only limited by your imagination. It’s important to continue to remain within a viable social life even after you’re retired. Studies show that a strong social life is directly correlated with less depression and a longer life span.
So, search for ways to plug into a community of other individuals within your community. You’ll not only be happier for it, but you’ll be healthier for it as well.
What are your thoughts for our above lists? Are there other activities you believe should have been mentioned which we missed? Let us know in the comments below!