7 Therapeutic Activities For Seniors And Elderly

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Modern therapy takes many forms, and finding fun activities for your senior to engage in can be difficult. The following therapeutic activities for the elderly also help improve the overall health and happiness of your loved one while providing physical and mental stimulation too.

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Today, it isn’t uncommon for an older adult to spend hours a day without any worthwhile stimulation other than watching TV. However, seniors living today need regular mental and physical stimulation – more than their younger counterparts even.

This article provides you with a list of some of the best therapeutic activities for seniors and the elderly. If you or a senior you love suffers from memory loss, restricted movements, or motor control issues, therapeutic activities like these can be effective.

Art Therapy

Art is a simple form of therapy that is quite effective for elderly and older adults. If your loved one suffers from mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, art therapy can help them by providing a more visual and sensory way of expression. It is also an effective form of communication other than speaking.

In fact, art opens up a new expressive outlet in your senior as well as enhances their emotional resilience, interpersonal abilities, motor skills, and cognitive function. Your parent or grandparent can find a suitable form of art depending on his/her personality by choosing from many forms of art including adult coloring books, scrapbooking, sculpting, painting, drawing, sketching, dance, and photography.

Exercise Therapy

Exercise is a form of effective therapy for older adults too. According to the CDC, many older adults don’t get enough exercise to maintain their physical fitness levels – nevermind improving it.

When an aging adult exercises regularly, it stimulates the production of endorphins and neurotransmitters that help boost his/her mood. With more and more seniors suffering from mood swings, regular workouts can be best for them to be happy during the day.

On the other hand, exercises also help manage anxiety and depression in older adults and make them feel good about themselves. It helps improve their confidence and self-esteem as a result.

If you or the elderly person you are helping suffers from chronic pain or other physical problems, they should opt for low-impact workouts such as swimming, yoga, fishing, golfing, water aerobics, and strength training with very light dumbbells or water bottles.

Adults who think they need help with their exercises can hire a professional caregiver with training and experience in senior care. If your senior suffers from balance and mobility issues, they can work out carefully with the help of the caregiver.

animal therapy for elderly
Animal and pet therapy has show tremendous benefits for the mental health of the elderly.

Animal Therapy

If your senior has trouble socializing or bonding with others, animal therapy is the best form of therapy for him or her. This form of therapy is proven to fight depression, improve motor skills, lower blood pressure levels, reduce stress, and decrease the feeling of loneliness in your parent or grandparent.

Some retirement homes provide animal therapy as an additional service to satisfy the needs of their clients. Whether your senior has his/her own pet or plan to visit and spend time with a dog or cat, they should receive the full benefits of animal therapy.

RELATED: Best Pets For Seniors & Elderly

Music Therapy

Music therapy is proven to stimulate cognitive function. The power of music to enhance emotional well-being in senior adults is also well documented.

For example, when an older adult feels down, he or she would most probably turn to his/her favorite album or song. The more older adults listen to music, the more enjoyment and benefit they get from this form of therapy.

For people with memory conditions like dementia, listening to familiar songs or music from their youth can help bring back lost memories. Listening to relaxing tunes help boost the mood of your senior and alleviate stress at the same time.

On the other hand, creating music has numerous therapeutic benefits especially for older adults. If you or a senior you love has interest in music, he or she can learn to play a new instrument or join the local choir. Music therapy is getting more and more popular these days as one of the best therapeutic activities for elderly folks.

elderly man meditating
Meditation can be done by nearly anyone regardless of health or mobility status

Meditation

Mindful meditation helps your senior improve his/her emotional well-being and relieve stress at the same time. They can get rid of negative emotions and boost their moods with regular meditation practice.

Meditation is easy to start and requires only 10-15 minutes a day to start with. Seniors suffering from chronic pain problems can sit in any position that helps him/her concentrate on his/her breath without any disruption.

The most important thing is to choose a quiet place without any disturbances for this practice. There are various meditation apps and other guides to help your senior adult get started with meditation.

Spending Time In Nature

Exploring the great outdoors is one of the most effective therapeutic activities for your senior adult. It provides exercise, fresh air, and a change of scenery which is great for mental stimulation.

This activity will also help relieve stress, negative emotions, and improve the mental and physical well-being of the senior adult. Some fun activities to consider are gardening, a picnic, visiting a botanical garden, feeding ducks by the water, bird-watching at a park, or taking a boat ride on the lake.

Volunteering

Every senior is different. Some seniors prefer to be alone while others love to feel fulfilled by giving back to the community. Volunteer work can be one of the best post-retirement therapeutic activities for your senior adult if he or she has an outgoing personality. You will find many organizations in the area that require assistance in volunteer work. You can look through local help wanted ads for suitable volunteer positions.

Various therapeutic activities can help you or your aging loved one improve his/her mental and physical health while reducing stress levels. The most important thing is to choose the activity that most suits their temperament and personality. I hope this guide helped you find the most effective therapeutic activities for an elderly loved one.

Can you think of a therapeutic activity I missed? Please tell me in the comments below!

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