Why it is Important to Encourage Hobbies for Elderly People
Whether we’re experiencing scorching summer temperatures, or the thermometer is below freezing it’s important to fill our days with worthwhile activities so that we don’t become isolated. This is especially true in older life, when mobility difficulties may prevent people from leaving home as much as they used to, and loneliness and social isolation can be even more of a risk. Lack of occupation can also lead to a decline in mental health, which will compound the situation even more, but one way to avoid these risks is to have regular social interaction. There are many enjoyable pastimes that can be enjoyed at home or out in the local community, and by having Helping Hands’ visiting care or live in care in their home, older people don’t have to try and become more active alone.
How to Promote Pastimes for the Elderly
If someone is keen to get out into the local community more then we can be the support they need to realise their wishes. If someone has mobility difficulties which are preventing them from accessing activities locally then provision can be made to ensure they aren’t excluded. This could be from checking with a venue that there is access for wheelchair users, to making sure there are accessible toilets for people who may need to go into facilities with a carer.
It’s also important to remember that if someone has been isolated for quite some time they may have lost confidence about going out into the local community, so by starting off with activities that can be enjoyed at home they can be reintroduced to the idea gradually.
Fun hobbies for the elderly to try
Whether playing bingo in their living room or trying painting by numbers, there are many different enjoyable activities that may be old favourites or a completely new experience. Perhaps the person used to enjoy baking and would like to try it again, although for someone with cognitive impairment or who has difficulty taking things in or out of the oven, assistance is recommended to reduce the risk of injury. Searching online can bring up recipes for sweets and desserts that don’t need baking at all. Whatever is their fancy, their caregiver can help them to enjoy the activity again, or for the first time.
Many people like cooking, whether it’s a good old Sunday roast or baking a favourite cake. Once we begin to find everyday tasks more difficult though, the desire and enthusiasm to prepare food can diminish. Having a Helping Hands carer coming to a person’s home and supporting them with everything in the kitchen, can help someone to rediscover the love they had for cooking and baking. If inspiration is a problem, Age UK have a page full of recipe suggestions, some of which were donated by people they support.
Some people love knitting and crochet, others enjoy model-making, and some have a penchant for painting, but one thing that we all largely have in common as we get older though is the need to reminisce about the past. Craft activities that incorporate reminiscence therapy, which is especially beneficial for people who are living with dementia, are a great way to enjoy expressing creativity while making and retrieving memories. Activities to Share, a website that sells reminiscence items says, “Reminiscence and conversation are vital parts of a programme to enhance older people’s wellbeing.”
Other hobbies include craft making kits for sewing, stamping, knitting, painting, and clay modelling, which can be bought online or at hobby shops. Inexpensive hobbies can include scrapbooking, flower pressing, decoupage, jigsaw puzzles (large piece puzzles can make a real difference for those with poor dexterity or eyesight), or collecting coins or stamps. Photography is another hobby that can easily be done with modern mobile phones, and photos can be uploaded to online galleries or printed to make albums (if there is access to the internet.) There are also accessible online courses for topics such as photography, if people want to learn new skills. For nature lovers, birdwatching is something that can easily be done from most homes, and there are apps to download to identify bird songs and catalogue sightings.
Music is present throughout every part of our lives, whether it’s the tunes we love as youngsters, hymns at our wedding, or songs we sing together as a family. Music is a social activity – we can sing in choirs together, listen to songs with friends, or play instruments as an ensemble. Music can therefore stimulate memory from every part of our lives and lead us to feel nostalgic like nothing else can. Just listening to the radio together or singing along to tunes can be a mood-lifter, as according to Companions for Seniors “Music can also help older adults to remain social. Talking about music or playing instruments together can be a wonderful conversation starter…”
There’s no reason anyone should feel that their travelling days are over just because you’re ageing or living with frailties. Accessible holidays take into account that some people need a little extra support when travelling and keeping a tour operator notified of any additional support needs is crucial to having an enjoyable and successful holiday. Age UK have a wealth of tips and information on travelling, including what to look for when planning a UK break or going further afield. Many companies are happy to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, and most hotels will go out of their way to ensure that guests with additional needs are supported.
Applying for a ‘Blue Badge’ for disabled parking can help with getting someone with mobility issues out and about – local council websites can help with the application process. Some private venues have disability spaces that can be pre-booked. Most buses are wheelchair accessible now and some areas have bookable minibus routes to pick up from villages to the nearest town.
Gardening, as well as any form of physical activity suitable for their ability, is going to be beneficial to a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Gardening can provide stimulation all the year around as there is always so much to do! Planting and nurturing seedlings can be done earlier in the year while there is always maintenance to be done over the colder months. Depending on individual ability, additional help can be sought from a Helping Hands live-in carer who can reside in a person’s home and offer around-the-clock support, including light gardening. It can still be extremely beneficial for our wellbeing to just sit quietly in beloved surroundings, whether that’s on a balcony or amongst several acres, looking out over pleasing views.
Tracing your family history
Exploring the details about where we come from is interesting to so many people, especially as we age, and is also an enjoyable activity that can be undertaken at home or in a local library. Tracing ancestors can be done cheaply but it’s a mammoth undertaking involving time-intensive searching through many different records and archives. Joining one of the online subscription services can be more expensive, but will save time and energy with resources all on one website. First steps in searching for family information can be daunting, but by involving your caregivers and loved ones it can become an enjoyable project for future generations too. Careline suggests that “a good first step is to start in your own home. Look through photographs, documents, and diaries to find useful information. Ask your relatives to do the same – why not make this a family project?” In addition, many towns have a museum which is good for finding out about local history and reminiscence.
Page reviewed by Carole Kerton-Church on August 24, 2023