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10 Fun Activities to Engage Your Aging Loved Ones

Resources for Families

When you visit your aging dad, he’s usually doing the same thing – sitting in the recliner watching Gunsmoke re-runs.

Is that normal?

“While it’s important for seniors to be active and engaged, many settle into a routine that’s hard to break – even when people visit,” said Sierra Goetz, operations director at Trail Ridge Home Care’s partner, the HomeCare Advocacy Network (HCAN). “The next time you visit, try giving your loved one a little push to do something different – something that will engage their mind and/or body while making special memories with you.”

Here are ten things you and your senior can do to make the most of your time together.

Enjoy a meal. Sharing a meal with a family member or friend nourishes us in more ways than one – especially for seniors. Research suggests that older people take more time to dine and eat more nutritious meals if they’re with a companion. It’s also a great opportunity to talk, laugh and share stories.

Go for a walk. Regular physical exercise is critical to healthy aging. Unfortunately, many older people often aren’t motivated to get up and get moving – especially if they live alone. With a little encouragement, you might be able to get your senior outside for a casual stroll through the neighborhood or, if they’re feeling up to it, a more vigorous walk in a nearby park.

Look through special photos. Photos have the power to transport us back in time – helping us relive fond memories. Before you visit, gather photos of people, places and events that are special to your aging loved one. Ask your senior to talk about each photo and give him/her time to reminisce about times gone by.

Listen to music. Like photos, music can bring back special memories. Whether it’s jazz, opera or rock and roll, listening to tunes from their past might prompt your senior to share stories from their younger years – maybe even a few you’ve never heard.

Watch a favorite movie or TV show. Watching a classic movie or TV show with an older loved one can be nostalgic and heartwarming.

Work on puzzles. Whether it’s a jigsaw puzzle or the daily crossword, puzzles are a great way to exercise your senior’s mind. They’re even more fun when your loved one has a little help from others.

Play cards or a board game. From Gin Rummy to Monopoly, games are a great way to engage your senior loved one. It’s not about the competition – it’s about the shared experience, laughs and memories made.

Bring a family member or friend with you. It’s not always easy for older loved ones to get out and about – especially if they no longer drive. Bringing family members and friends to them can be a great day-brightener.

Video chat with family members and friends. If it’s not possible for family members or friends to visit in person, connect them with your loved one via video chat.

Bring a pet. If your loved one loves furry friends, bring yours the next time you visit. They can be a great source of joy and comfort.

“Remember – it’s not about what you do, it’s about quality time spent together,” Goetz said. “If time or distance limits your ability to visit, we can help. Our trained, professional caregivers love spending time with seniors – helping with day-to-day tasks while keeping them active and engaged.”

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