Hobbies for Seniors
What is the key to living a long, healthy, and happy life? In recent years, scientists have put tremendous time and effort into answering the all-important question of longevity. Some of the answers are basically what you would expect: you should refrain from smoking, eat a healthy diet, and engage in moderate physical activity. At the same time, some of the research has produced somewhat surprising results: hobbies can boost brain power and reduce mortality.
Of course, a hobby has to be well matched for the interests and physical capabilities of the participant. No one will get much out of a hobby that they simply do not enjoy. Fortunately, there are many great hobbies out there for every senior citizen, including people with limited mobility and people who need assistance with day-to-day activities.
At United Energy Workers Healthcare, our team provides top no-cost home healthcare services to EEOICPA and RECA beneficiaries. We want to make sure that all senior citizens have the happiest, most fulfilling life throughout their later years. Here, we offer a list of 13 healthy hobbies that are perfect for senior citizens.
Caring for a Pet
Pets provide people a lot of comfort and support. The majority of pet owners report that they feel a strong emotional connection to their animal. Some seniors want to care for a pet on a full-time basis, whereas others prefer to volunteer at an animal shelter. In either case, spending time caring for and developing a relationship with a pet is a great hobby that offers real health benefits.
The United States is a pet-loving nation. According to a recent survey from Gallup, 60 percent of American households own at least one pet. While dogs and cats are by far the most popular pets in the country, millions of Americans have other animals as well. No matter your favorite type of pet, caring for an animal can offer significant benefits.
For seniors citizens, pet ownership/pet care is an excellent hobby. Not do many people report that providing pet care is life enhancing, but pets have also been associated with offering their owners tangible, scientifically backed health benefits. For older adults, these health benefits are especially valuable.
The Health Benefits of Pets for Seniors
Research shows that pet care offers a number of different health benefits to older adults. Pets can offer seniors both physical and emotional benefits. Some of these health benefits are obvious, while others far more subtle. Among other things, caring for a pet:
- Promotes Physical Activity: To start, caring for a pet is a fairly active endeavor. Whether it is taking the dog for a walk or playing around the house with the cat, pets help to encourage seniors to stay physically active. This is a very good thing. Continued physical activity is one of the keys to healthy aging.
- Lowers Blood Pressure: As surprising as this may be, there is strong evidence that suggests that providing pet care lowers a person’s blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that even briefly touching a dog can lower a person’s heart rate by a considerable amount. Lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol levels can promote health and longevity.
- Offers Mental Health Benefits: Pets have been linked to many different positive mental health effects. In some studies, pet care has been shown to lower rates of depression and decrease levels of anxiety.
- Provides Companionship: Finally, animals offer some real emotional benefits. For many, pets become true members of the family. They offer much-needed companionship that can sometimes be difficult for people to find in their later years.
Seniors Need to Find the Right Pet
With pet care, it is crucial that the animal is well-matched to the specific person. This is an issue that all prospective pet owners need to consider, but it is especially important for senior citizens and other vulnerable adults. For example, some dog breeds require an enormous amount of attention, in-depth training, and seemingly endless exercise time. These breeds may not work well at all for senior citizens who have limited mobility or other health restrictions.
When considering pet options, it is imperative that seniors and their loved ones carefully assess their unique needs and abilities. In some cases, getting a brand new, highly active puppy will be a great fit for a still active older person. In other cases, a different type of animal may be a far better choice. In still other cases, a senior may be able to benefit from caring for a pet, but they may not be well-suited to full-time pet ownership.
Creating Art / Doing Crafts
Did you know that one of the fastest growing hobbies amongst seniors is art? Art increases cognitive skills, sharpens physical and fine motor skills, promotes self-awareness and self-expression, and encourages socialization. It is never too late to pick up art as a hobby. Even if you have never tried it before, arts and crafts offers something for you.
As we continue to live longer, there is an ever-increasing desire for people to find new hobbies that are well-suited for seniors. One cannot overstate the importance of finding enjoyable, meaningful activities that can be pursued well into old age. According to a study published in the Journal of Aging Studies, a strong sense of purpose was found to be one of the six key elements of successful aging.
For many people, art provides meaning. It can be used as a tool to explore one’s own creativity and find a sense of purpose and meaning. Perhaps it is not surprising that art and crafts are becoming increasingly popular hobbies among senior citizens. Art offers a number of different direct benefits, including improving cognitive ability, sharpening fine motor skills, promoting self-expression, and providing an outlet for positive socialization.
Art is a Flexible, Varied Hobby
One of the biggest benefits of arts & crafts as a hobby is that this is a fundamentally flexible endeavor. What kind of art do you want to make? It is entirely up to you. There are so many different styles of art that a person can try out that they will never run out of new options.
Some people may enjoy drawing or painting, while others may enjoy different types of projects, such as working with wood or decorating cakes. Art is what the artist makes of it. There are very few boundaries and there are not many limits that surround what a person can do and what they can produce. For this reason, art is an excellent tool for creativity and self-expression.
Creativity Helps to Keep the Mind Fresh
For seniors, mentally challenging activities are valuable. They help to keep the brain functioning at a high level. Creating art is a fun way to stay mentally active. It offers real cognitive benefits. In fact, according to an article from Today’s Geriatric Medicine, the latest neurological research demonstrates that art produces new neural pathways and strengthens dendrites. What does this mean? It means that there is very compelling evidence that art promotes increased brain functioning. Beyond offering important benefits like self-expression, art is truly a mental workout. It can help to keep a person’s mind functioning properly deep into their later years.
Arts and Crafts Can Be a Social Activity
When we think of art, we tend to think of individualism. The classic image that often comes to mind is that of a committed artist, spending hour after hour painstakingly making small changes to a canvas. The focus is on the most minor of details. This image can be extremely misleading. While art can be a very personal activity, it can also be a hobby that is fully social.
In many communities around the country, there are increasingly social art classes being offered that are targeted at seniors. Art can be created and shared with others. Indeed, it should be. Further, some of the most popular types of arts & crafts among senior citizens are intergenerational projects. Many seniors do art with their grandchildren and other loved ones. From scrapbooking to painting, these intergenerational projects can promote deep feelings of tranquility, happiness, and life fulfillment.
Dancing is another fun way for seniors to socialize and to get exercise. In many communities, there are senior dance classes and other senior-focused dance events available. This is a great activity for people who are looking to get some exercise in a fun and non-traditional way.
Dancing is an excellent hobby for seniors. As an activity, it offers many of the benefits that are considered to be among the keys to healthy aging. For example, dancing promotes physical activity, it provides a healthy mental challenge, and it encourages positive, fun socialization.
Of course, dancing can also come with some minor or moderate health risks as well. For vulnerable seniors, it is crucial that they keep a proper pace. No one should engage in a dance or any other activity that is too physically demanding. Dancing should be a fun and safe hobby for older adults.
A Great Form of Exercise
One of the most obvious benefits of dancing is that it is a fun form of exercise. There is overwhelming evidence that moderate, regular exercise offers tremendous health benefits for seniors. In fact, getting consistent exercise is among the most important things that an older adult can do to improve their health.
Certainly, low-risk forms of exercise such as walking or swimming are great options. At the same time, it is understandable that those things can also be a little bland for some people. Dancing is another alternative that can really spice up your life. Whether it is in an exercise-focused dance class, an organized social event, or a casual get together, dancing can be a great time for everyone involved.
Seniors that Dance Fall Less Often
Among older adults, fall accidents comprise one of the leading causes of serious injuries. For a vulnerable adult, a fall is no minor issue. It can be devastating, and even deadly. By improving balance, dancing can actually reduce the risk of fall accidents. Seniors that regularly dance are less susceptible to fall accidents. According to a peer-reviewed study published in The BMJ, a randomized control trial was set up to test the effect of dancing on fall accidents. Over a 12-week period, seniors that joined a dance class reported fewer fall accidents than did similarly-situated seniors who were enrolled in a fall prevention course.
Dancing Can Promote Better Cognitive Functioning
Many people do not realize that dancing offers cognitive benefits on top of the physical benefits. A study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine actually found that dancing was associated with a lower rate of dementia. The researchers theorized that this effect could have been due to the fact that dancing is a mentally complex activity; it requires a considerable amount of brain power to follow the beat and the steps in a dance. That type of mental focus is healthy for seniors.
A Highly Social Activity
Finally, dancing is a great way for seniors to get out into the world and be social with their family, their friends, and their neighbors. Whether in a class or a causal event, dancing is a highly social activity. It is important to remember that loneliness is a serious health risk for people as they age. It is crucial that older adults stay actively involved in their community. Dance is one hobby that can be a fun way for seniors to socialize.
Gardening is another hobby that almost everyone can enjoy. You may have space in your own backyard to create a small, but productive garden. Even if you do not have space, there are community gardens available in many towns and cities across the country. You may be able to get your own plot or you may be able to help the community garden grow and thrive.
Gardening is well-suited for people of all different ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. For senior citizens, gardening is a healthy and cathartic activity that has been shown to offer a number of different health benefits.
It is never too late to get into gardening as a hobby. Whether you are already an advanced grower who regularly produces a ton of healthy vegetables in the backyard, or you are a beginner who lacks the space for full-time planting, gardening is an activity that is worth considering.
The Health Benefits of Gardening
Gardening is a healthy hobby. Many experts agree that gardening is a good choice for senior citizens because it is both relaxing and offers a way to engage in physical activity that is not too strenuous. Indeed, the AARP promotes the health benefits of gardening.
- Physical health: Most notably, gardening offers considerable physical benefits. With just a few hours per week in a garden, a senior can improve their muscle strength, lower their blood pressure and their heart rate, and dramatically improve their fine motor skills. With that in mind, it is crucial that seniors do not overexert themselves in the garden. This is especially true on hot and humid summer days. Proper hydration and sufficient rest is key to healthy gardening.
- Mental health: In addition to physical benefits, gardening is also linked to mental health benefits. It has been shown to reduce stress, lower levels of anxiety, and to promote better sleep quality. Beyond that, gardening may even reduce the risk of certain negative mental health conditions that are associated with aging. For example, a study from 2006 found that gardening reduces the risk of dementia by nearly 40 percent.
Personal Gardens are Great, But Not the Only Option
Building your own personal garden can be great. You can produce healthy food, grow beautiful flowers, and provide space for environmentally important plants in your region of the country. At the same time, you do not always need a personal garden to get into the hobby. Not everyone has access to space required to grow a full garden. Fortunately, there are often many other options available. In some cases, seniors may want to grow plants on a deck or in a window. This can help to provide some gardening time. Further, many communities and assisted living facilities have community gardens available. These places allow seniors to participate in gardening at a pace that is comfortable for them.
Safety First: You Should Consider Garden Modifications to Help Seniors
If your elderly parent or vulnerable loved one is interested in gardening, it is important to consider safety modifications that can help to improve the gardening experience. There are many gardening tools that are specifically designed for seniors. These tools make it easier for seniors to build and maintain a garden. As an example, certain tools have handles that are designed to offer an easier grip for people who have arthritic conditions. The garden should be a safe place. Modifications can be made to make sure that seniors are safe and healthy while working in the garden.
f the most popular sports in the entire country, golf is a great activity for people of all ages. You play the full 18 holes, nine holes, or spend a few hours at the driving range or the putting range. For those who have the mobility, golf is a hobby that promotes physical dexterity and mental focus.
The United States is a country of sports lovers. We have many of the world’s most popular professional leagues, college and high school sports are huge, and the majority of school-age children participate in at least one team sport. Many seniors grew up playing sports, and played recreationally well into their forties or even their fifties.
Of course, as we enter our later years, the vast majority of sports are largely off limits. Seniors certainly should not be playing tackle football or other dangerous games. Even high-intensity non-contact sports can be dangerous. Most sports are too risky and too taxing. This is one of the things that separates golf from other popular U.S. sports. Golf is accessible to people of all ages. It is a great hobby for seniors.
Golf is the Most Popular Sport Among Senior Citizens
According to data from the National Golf Foundation, nearly 24 million Americans played golf on a public or private course in 2017. The average age of someone who watches the PGA tour is 64 years old. This is not exactly surprising: disproportionality, golf is popular among older adults. With the expansion of courses in many parts of the country, and the ability to use golf carts, it is easier than ever for seniors to participate in the game for decades after their retirement. In addition, many communities have driving ranges and putting ranges that allow people to practice and improve their skills on a regular basis.
Four Reasons Why Golf is a Great Hobby for Seniors
Many people underestimate golf as a form of exercise. A full round of golf is actually quite an intense afternoon. Golf Week reports that the average golfer burns between 600 and 1200 calories over 18 holes. That variation largely comes down to the use of a motorized golf cart. Still, a person who plays a full round of golf while using a cart will burn hundreds of calories.
Golf helps to promote dexterity, flexibility, and range of motion. For golfers, it is crucial that they stretch and are careful with their swing. The last thing you want to deal with is a serious back injury. When done correctly, golf swings can help seniors feel more ‘spry’. It is good way to stretch out muscles and to use different parts of your body.
The fact that golf is fun should not be ignored. One of the main reasons why golf is such a great hobby for so many seniors is that people simply enjoy the game. It is a good way to get the competitive fire out, even if you are only competing with your own personal records.
Golfers build their own internal community. Some of the best parts of playing golf are the conversations that happen on the course and in the clubhouse. Golf is a great way for seniors to stay active, make friends, and to socialize with their community. This is incredibly important. One of the things that can make retirement and aging difficult is a loss of community. It is valuable to find fun, healthy hobbies like golf that can help foster a new community.
Playing Cards & Games
For seniors who have restricted mobility, golfing or dancing may be too physically intensive. Playing cards or other games can be an excellent way to get the competitive fire going. Classic games like bridge and chess promote better cognitive functions. Further, in recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of seniors playing video games and computer games.
If you do not exercise regularly, your muscles will get weaker and they begin to deteriorate. This is why physical activity is crucial for health and longevity. While the brain is not a muscle, there is a similar process in place. If you do not regularly engage in a mentally stimulating activity, your mind will simply not function as well. You will not stay as ‘sharp’ as you otherwise could be. For seniors, cards and games are an excellent way to socialize and get mental stimulation.
That is certainly not to say that playing cards and games is a miracle cure. As the AARP notes, it is one important factor that has been shown to help seniors age in a healthy way. Card games, board games, and other games are fun and engaging. They are accessible to many different people, including those with limited mobility.
Most Popular Card Games for Seniors
There are many different cards games that are popular among seniors. There is also a wide range of games that are less popular, but that nonetheless have devoted players. Some of the cards games that are most frequently played by seniors include:
- Pinochle: A classic card game that is played by two to four players, pinochle takes a little time to learn but it is a lot of fun.
- Bridge: Another trick-taking card game, bridge is played by four players who are divided into two competing partnerships.
- Canasta: A variant of rummy, Canasta was listed as the most popular card game in the United States in the 1950s. It remains especially popular among seniors.
- Poker: Poker comes in an enormous number of different forms. The game can be played head-to-head or in large groups with as many as ten people at the table.
- Solitaire: Another game with many different versions, solitaire is a popular way to pass the time. Despite the name, solitaire can be played socially.
Other Popular Games for Seniors
Of course, card games are not the only games out there. In addition to card games, you will also find senior citizens playing many different other games. Some of these games are played individually, while others are played with large groups. Some popular non-card-based games among older adults include:
- Crossword Puzzles: The New York Times version remains the most popular crossword puzzle in the United States.
- Sudoku: A logic-based puzzle solving game, Sudoku has exploded in popularity in recent years.
- Scrabble: One of the most popular games among seniors, Scrabble is ideal for small groups who are looking for friendly competition.
- Dominoes: A tile-based game, dominoes has many different variations and is relatively easy to learn for new players.
- Bingo: For large groups, a game like Bingo can be a fun hobby. Bingo is another game that serves as a regular social activity.
Computer Games and Video Games for Seniors
It is also worth mentioning that some seniors are interested in staying up to date with the latest technology developments. While the classic games can certainly be a ton of fun, so can cutting-edge video games and computer games. Senior citizens are a fast-growing demographic in the video game industry. You are never too old to learn new things!
Yoga offers a number of physical and psychological benefits to the participants. One of the best things about yoga is that it is a truly flexible hobby. No matter your skill level, prior experience, age, or physical condition, there is almost certainly a yoga routine that is well suited for you.
The aging process comes with a number of challenges. For seniors, remaining physically active is extremely important. Not only do active seniors live longer, but they also live a higher quality of life on average. Every senior should try to find active hobbies that they truly enjoy. For many, yoga is an excellent option.
The practice of yoga offers considerable benefits to older adults. Perhaps it is not surprising then that yoga is surging in popularity in the United States. According to research cited by Harvard Health Publishing, the number of people who participate in yoga has jumped by more than 50 percent in the last four years. Further, seniors are the leading demographic for growth in yoga participation.
Seniors and Yoga: Five Benefits of the Practice
When practiced in a safe manner, yoga offers a number of different health benefits for seniors. Of course, it is crucial that safety comes first. If you are new to yoga, please do not try to take on too much. It is always good to start slowly and to work with a trained professional. The last thing you want to deal with is an avoidable injury. Among other health benefits, yoga is associated with:
- Strengthening Balance and Stability: Yoga is popular among many exercise fanatics because it is a low-impact, efficient way to improve balance and strengthen those all-important stabilizing muscles. Within a few sessions, most people already start to feel stronger and more coordinated.
- Improving Range of Motion: Yoga also helps to stretch out muscles, reduce pain, and extend the range of motion. This is a huge benefit for seniors, especially those who have somewhat limited mobility. Better movement leads to a higher quality of life.
- Relieving Tension: In some ways, people consider yoga to be similar to a massage. Practicing yoga can actually help to ease muscle tension and to break up damaged tissue. You may feel more relaxed after a yoga session.
- Developing Better Control Over Breathing: Beyond the direct physical benefits, yoga can also improve your emotional and mental health. One of the things that yoga teaches people is advanced breathing techniques. You should not underestimate the importance of proper breathing. By better controlling your breath, you can live a more healthy, relaxed life.
- Encouraging Mindfulness: Finally, yoga encourages mindfulness. The practice has been linked to calmness, tranquility, lower levels of stress, and reduced anxiety. Through becoming fully aware of your mind, your body, and the interaction between the two, you may be able to find peace in yoga.
Yoga is Available to Everyone
One of the reasons why yoga is such a great hobby for seniors is that it is an accessible practice. To start, yoga can be done in a relatively small space at little cost. Additionally, there are many different types of yoga programs available. On one end of the spectrum, yoga helps train athletes who are working on moves that are seemingly impossible. On the other end of the spectrum, yoga is also frequently recommended by medical professionals and physical therapists for people who have limited mobility or who are recovering from serious injuries.
For many seniors, getting aerobic exercise can be somewhat challenging. Running or jogging may simply be too harsh on their joints. Beyond brisk walking, swimming is an excellent alternative. Not only does swimming offer a true full body workout, but it is far less harsh on sensitive joints than most other forms of aerobic exercise.
As people age, many common forms of exercise become more difficult, if not altogether impossible. For most young people, running is a very healthy habit that offers many different benefits. For seniors, running can actually be counterproductive. The activity puts a tremendous amount of stress on a person’s joints, especially on their knees and their hips.
This is one reason why swimming is an excellent hobby for seniors. The Arthritis Foundation notes swimming is a low-impact exercise that is well-suited to people with arthritic conditions, people who have joint problems, seniors with limited mobility, and others who have or similar issues. Whether you are a regular in the pool or someone who has not gone swimming in decades, it is never too late to get into swimming as a healthy hobby.
Regular Exercise is Important
It is always a good time to start getting more exercise. If you or your elderly loved one does not get enough exercise right now, it is a good idea to take a look at what options are available. Consistent exercise is one of the keys to longevity. For seniors, exercising in the water offers a number of different health benefits. Water-based exercise programs include obvious things such as swimming laps, but this also includes additional activities like water aerobics and water jogging. The buoyancy and support that water naturally puts much less pressure a person’s joints. This reduces pain and allows people with limited mobility to get some much needed physical activity. Swimming has been linked to many different health benefits, including:
- Increased muscle strength;
- Improved overall flexibility;
- Better range of motion outside of the pool;
- Lower risk of osteoporosis;
- Fewer injuries and decreased recovery time;
- Improved cardiovascular health; and
- Overall better blood flow.
On top of that, swimming is a fun activity. Many seniors spend time in the pool once or twice a week. Others get into the pool more often than that. It can be a casual thing, or it can be a larger social group activity.
Swimming With the Family
Swimming can also be a family event. It is a great hobby for grandparents. As anyone who spends time around children knows, most of them love being in the water. If you are a regular swimmer, it will help to make it easier to spend time with and bond with your grandchildren when they come around for a visit. As a hobby, swimming helps to establish the healthy habits that are critically important for seniors as they get later in life.
Pool Safety Always Comes First
With swimming, the importance of safety cannot be overstated. A pool has the potential to be a dangerous place if proper precautions are not taken. This is true both outside and inside of the actual pool. Unsurprisingly, pool areas are typically pretty wet. A slippery floor is a serious fall hazard. When seniors spend time in and around the water, it is imperative that their friends, family, loved ones, and caregivers take the proper safety precautions. Swimming should always be a fun and healthy experience.
Visiting Friends & Family
Spending time with your friends and family is a hobby. In many ways, it is one of the best and most important hobbies that any of us have. On an intuitive level, we all know that being with our loved ones offers major benefits. The research backs this up: positive social interaction is key for mental and physical health.
One of the simplest and most pleasurable hobbies for seniors involves visiting friends and family members. The positive impact of spending quality time with your loved one cannot be overstated. The New York Times has reported that social interaction is crucial for physical and mental health. This effect applies to all people.
However, regular social interaction with loved ones is especially important for seniors citizens. The reason for this is that seniors, many of whom have limited mobility, are at the highest risk for social isolation. This isolation is both depressing and damaging. Regular visits with family and friends is a hobby that all people should have.
Three Reasons Why Visiting Loved Ones Keeps You Young and Healthy
- Visits Keep Social Bonds Strong: One of the greatest tragedies of aging is that so many people lose their social connections. According to a report from the AARP, more than one-third of Americans over the age of 45 report feeling ‘lonely’ on a regular basis. The older people get, the greater the risk of severe social isolation. This is more than just a quality of life issue, though that is incredibly important: loneliness damages a person’s health and well-being. Visiting friends and family on a regular basis can help to keep social connections strong.
- Fun Activities are Planned Around the Visit: As a hobby, visiting loved ones is great because it can be intertwined with all hobbies and activities. You and your family can plan your visits around certain activities or events. On some days, it may be the perfect weather for an afternoon walk. On other days, you may want to play card games, explore a new restaurant in the city, or simply sit around chatting about life. There is an endless amount of activities available.
- Family Members Can Provide Much-Needed Oversight: Finally, regular visits from friends and family can help to keep seniors healthy and young because their loved ones can provide much-needed attention and oversight. They can make sure that their vulnerable loved one is in good health and that they are living in good conditions. Whether the family is visiting a senior in their own home, or they are going to an assisted living facility, useful oversight over the living arrangements can be provided.
There are Many Different Ways to Stay Connected
Unfortunately, face-to-face visits are not always possible on a regular basis. In some cases, people may have limited mobility. Other people may live on the other side of the country or may have a very busy schedule. The good news is that it is easier than ever to stay connected in the modern world. People across the country can talk frequently using various methods, which include:
- Phone calls;
- Video conferencing;
- Text messages;
- E-mails; and
- Handwritten letters.
These types of connections are priceless. No matter the circumstances, visiting friends and family should be an important priority. You and your family should create a system to make sure that elderly relatives are properly cared for and that they can regularly visit with all members of the family.
There are few better ways to spend your time than volunteering for a good cause. Volunteering offers benefits for both the volunteer and for the community or organization that they are helping. Seniors choose to volunteer in many different ways: some work with children or animals, while others put a unique skill that they have developed throughout their life to good use.
Volunteering is a great hobby for seniors. Few people realize the critically important impact seniors make on our communities. Without the contributions of seniors, our world would be a much worse place. Many people rely on seniors to help keep their lives running smoothly, from grandparents to friends and neighbors.
Older adults are among the most frequent volunteers. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, senior citizens collectively put in more than 2 billion hours of community service each year. For people who are looking to give back to their community, there are many different volunteer opportunities available. To truly enjoy this hobby, it is important that seniors find the volunteer activity that is best suited to their skills and interests.
Four Great Volunteer Opportunities for Seniors
Join RSVP (A Senior Corp Program): Through Senior Corps, many older adults volunteer with the RSVP program. This is the single largest senior citizen volunteer organization in the entire country. RSVP allows the people who have developed a wide range of skills and talents throughout the course of their life to give back to others. Among other things, the Senior Corp RSVP program includes:
- Neighborhood watch and first aid programs;
- Tutoring and mentoring programs;
- Nature cleanups hikes;
- Recycling programs;
- Renovating of homes for the needy;
- Disaster relief efforts; and
- English language programs.
Work With Young Children: One of the most valuable volunteer opportunities for seniors is to work with children. In fact, many older adults report that spending time helping children is an incredibly rewarding, even life-affirming experience. In most cases, seniors get just as much out of these types of programs as do the kids that they are supporting. Certainly, seniors can spend time taking care of their own grandchildren. This is important, and it is definitely a form of volunteer work. Beyond that, senior citizens can serve as foster grandparents, or as tutors or mentors for young children who are in need of supervision, care, love, and guidance.
Help Out Fellow Seniors: Another very popular volunteer opportunity for older adults includes helping their fellow senior citizens. Seniors helping seniors fosters community spirit and allows people to use their skills and abilities to help the needy. As people age, it is not uncommon for them to lose their independence. They may need help with some of the activities of daily living (ADLs). During this period of their life, seeing a friendly face from a peer who understands them can be incredibly beneficial.
Find a Unique Program: Finally, seniors are encouraged to look for unique programs that are well-suited for their specific skills set and interests. For example, some people love spending time with animals. Virtually every humane society location and animal shelter in the United States could use some additional support. In other cases, a senior may have extensive experience coaching sports. Volunteering to support the local little league team can be wonderful for the kids. It is also a good idea to look for volunteer opportunities through your church or through other organizations that do something that is meaningful to you and your family.
As noted by the Mayo Clinic, walking is associated with major health benefits. Not only does walking improve physical health, but there are considerable cognitive benefits as well. Walking can reduce stress and promote a better overall mood. It can also be a fundamentally social activity. Seniors who walk regularly with their friends, family, and neighbors report greater life satisfaction.
Walking is one of the best, most healthy hobbies that a person can engage in. For seniors, walking is highly recommended. As the Mayo Clinic notes, walking has been linked to a number of different positive health benefits. Through regular walking, a person can lose weight, they can improve their cardiovascular health, their levels of stress and anxiety can improve, and they can develop better balance and coordination.
Beyond the important health benefits, walking is also simply an enjoyable experience for most people. Many scientists believe that humans have a hard-wired drive to walk places. After all, for millions of years, walking is how we got around. There are countless different places that you can explore on a walk, from the big city to a secluded mountain trail.
Three Reasons Why Walking is a Great Hobby for Seniors
Many health experts consider walking to be one of the best forms of exercise for seniors. Walking for just 30 minutes per day at even a moderate pace has been linked to a 20 percent reduction in mortality. This is a huge effect for such a small intervention. Quite literally, walking is a hobby that can extend your life. In addition to a longer life, walking promotes a better life. Some of the specific reasons why walking is a great hobby for older adults include:
- Physical Health: Walking provides several different direct physical health benefits. To start, it helps to preserve and build muscle. By walking regularly, seniors can maintain their strength. This is an important consideration for older adults. Walking also keeps muscles loose, this can help you reduce pain and increase range of motion/flexibility. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, walking is great for cardiovascular health. Relatively small periods of walking can lower a person’s blood pressure and their resting heart rate.
- Relaxation: Many people find walks to be deeply relaxing. As a hobby, it can help promote calmness and it can reduce stress. Part of the reason for this is a matter of brain chemistry: when you walk, your body releases endorphins. Those naturally occurring reward chemicals promote a sense of well-being and reduce anxiety.
- Highly Flexible: Walking is also a highly flexible, low-cost activity. Weather permitting, most people can go for a short walk right now. It does not cost money and it does take a lot of planning. Further, even in small communities, there is virtually an endless amount of places that can be explored. No matter how often you walk, you can still probably find interesting things that you have never seen before.
Walking Can Be Social: Join a Local Walking Group
A relaxing solo walk on a beautiful evening or early in the morning can be a very fulfilling experience. Many people find that walking by themselves is a form of meditation. It is relaxing, calming, and can help clear your head. At the same time, walking can also be a highly social activity. Seniors can take a casual stroll with their friends or family members when they are visiting, or they can join a well-structured walking group. Many communities throughout the country offer carefully planned trails that are perfectly suited for seniors who want to enjoy their community, experience nature, and spend some time walking with their friends and neighbors.
Some of the best hobbies are also some of the simplest hobbies. There are not many things more satisfying than losing yourself in a good book. With the advent of new technology, it is easier than ever to get your hands on the latest reading material. You may want to go back and reread a book you haven’t read for decades, explore a used bookstore for a hidden gem, be the first one to finish the next popular novel, or read as part of a book club or discussion group. Reading can be both a social activity and a deeply personal/private hobby.
Reading is a fantastic, enjoyable hobby for older adults. It is a fun way to spend an afternoon. The pleasure of getting lost deep in a good book is something that is difficult to match. When many people get into a flow when reading, they can fly through many pages without closing the book.
Beyond simple pleasure, reading also offers many different health benefits. Some of the most notable examples include improving memory, reducing stress, making it easier to sleep, and pushing off cognitive decline. Whether you enjoy reading the classics, non-fiction books, or the latest novels, there is a never-ending amount of reading material available.
Reading is a Great Hobby for Seniors
In the modern world, reading has become more accessible than ever. Gone are the days in which it was difficult to get your hands on new books. Of course, centuries ago, books were reserved almost exclusively for the very privileged. Everything had to be copied by hand and it took an enormous amount of labor to produce a single copy of a book. Even just 100 years ago, few U.S. households owned any books at all.
However, with the internet, books have become cheaper and more plentiful than ever. Further, books are now available in a large number of different forms. In a matter of minutes, you can get a new book directly on a Kindle or another reading device. These devices even offer well-designed backlighting features that make it much easier to read and help people with poor eyesight.
Audiobooks for Seniors
In addition, a huge number of books are now available in an audio format. According to The Wall Street Journal, audiobooks are actually the fastest growing format in publishing. For people who enjoy reading, but are also busy and want to focus on other tasks, have trouble focusing, have a disability, or who simply want a change of pace, an audiobook may be the perfect answer.
Do Not Forget the Classic
Of course, there is still nothing quite like having the hard copy of a brand new novel in your hands. The local library is a great option for people to get access to new books and to the classics. There are also independent bookstores and major websites like Amazon that offer fast delivery of a wide variety of titles, including rare titles, and many communities offer senior-focused book exchange programs, as well.
Find a Book Club for Seniors
More than most hobbies, reading is a personal activity. With some exceptions, reading is typically done alone, or silently in the presence of another person. However, that does not mean that reading cannot be a social act. Book clubs are becoming increasingly popular amongst older adults. Book discussion groups are a great way to find new books, to make new friends, and to talk about the interesting stories that everyone just finished. The not so secret thing about book clubs is that they are rarely just about the books themselves. What many people find is that book clubs are often less about the assigned book and more about the general enjoyment of each other’s company.
Watching Movies & TV or Listening to Music
Movies, music, and television comprise another popular hobby amongst seniors. Once again, this hobby can come in many different forms. Some seniors like to turn their movies into a social experience, going to the theater as part of a large group. Others have television shows that they cannot miss.
Spending day after day on the couch mindlessly watching reruns of the same few television shows is not a healthy or positive hobby for anyone, let alone for a senior citizen who may be feeling isolated, bored, or without other options. It is important to have healthy, engaging hobbies.
However, that does not mean that you should throw away TV as an art form. Quite the contrary; people can enjoy and appreciate all types of entertainment. From movies and television shows to music and concerts, entertainment is a fun hobby. For older adults, especially people with limited mobility, movies, television, and music, can offer enjoyment and fulfillment.
There are More Movies/TV Options Than Ever
The amount of high-quality entertainment that has been produced in the last few years is truly incredible. In fact, many media commentators even refer to this as a new ‘Golden Age’ of television. There are more music, TV, and movie options than ever before. For senior citizens, the entertainment landscape that they have lived through in their life has seen quite a transformation.
In the 1950s and 1960s, most Americans had only a few television channels to choose from, and that is if they even had a TV at all. Similarly, with movies and music, there are far more options available now than there ever were in the past. While having so many options can be overwhelming at times, it is a nice benefit. No matter your specific personal taste, there are likely movies, shows, or music out there that is right for you.
These Options Can Intersect With Other Hobbies
One of the fun things about movies, TV, and music is that they relate to other hobbies. For example, many people who have a hobby like cooking enjoy watching cooking-related television programming. The same is true for things like travel and home improvement. You can actually learn more about the very things that you are most interested in.
Similarly, many people who have a passion for music will listen while they are enjoying some of their other hobbies. There are few things that will promote a greater sense of calmness and relaxation than listening to your favorite song while taking a walk under a picturesque sunset.
Movies, TV, and Music Can Be a Social Activity
Finally, it is worth mentioning that movies, television, and music can all be social activities. Like most things, entertainment is generally best consumed when it is consumed with the people you love the most. Whether you and your loved ones are spending an afternoon at a local movie theater, you are watching this week’s professional or college game, you are enjoying your favorite weekly television drama, or you are sharing shows or music from your childhood with your grandchildren, this is a hobby that can be used to have fun, enjoyable experiences with friends and family members. For people with limited mobility, movies, TV, and music provide a great way to connect with the people who mean the most.
Help Your Loved One Find Healthy Hobbies
For senior citizens, the benefits of healthy hobbies are undisputed. All seniors need to be able to find fun, enjoyable hobbies that are appropriate for their physical condition and personal interests. We strongly encourage family members to stay involved in the lives of their vulnerable loved ones. It is far easier for seniors to find hobbies when they have help from their family members. A good hobby can be almost anything: it simply needs to be a safe activity that offers a creative or productive outlet for their energy. Remember, all seniors should have access to a combination of hobbies/activities that offer:
- The right level of physical movement;
- Suitable cognitive challenges; and
- Positive, fulfilling social interaction.
Seniors are at risk of not getting enough physical exercise, of lacking in activities that offer true mental stimulation, and of becoming socially isolated. The good news is that it does not have to be that way. You can work to help facilitate safe, beneficial hobbies for your loved ones.
At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are proud to offer superior home healthcare services for EEOICPA and RECA beneficiaries at no cost. Our family wants to make sure that your family has access to all of the resources that are available to you to help your elderly or vulnerable loved, including helping them find the best activities to keep them happy and fulfilled. If you have questions or concerns about assisted living for seniors or our home healthcare services, please do not hesitate to contact us today.
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In order to be eligible for EEOICPA/RECA benefits, an individual must have been employed at a covered Department of Energy facility, an approved atomic weapons facility, or at a permitted beryllium vendor. An individual must also have one of the covered conditions as a result of exposure to radiation, beryllium, or silica while employed at an accepted facility. In addition, uranium miners, millers, and ore transporters are eligible for benefits if they develop an illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances (such as radiation, chemicals, solvents, acids, and metals) and worked at a facility covered under RECA. Eligibility requirements vary by location and condition.