keeping elderly parents active

Keeping elderly parents active

Some people have been busy all their lives and don’t let a bit of frailty hold them back from continuing to enjoy life.  Others find themselves stopped in their tracks by mobility problems, illness or the loss of friends or a partner who has died. As keeping busy is such an important part of living well and longer, we decided to write this article on hobbies and activities for elderly people.

Hobbies for Elderly People

If your elderly parents might fall into the ‘stopped in their tracks’ category it can be hard to keep their spirits up.  Keeping physically and mentally active is a good place to start.  It may mean some lateral thinking on your part, to take account of their location, interests and physical abilities. And some open-mindedness on theirs, being willing to consider new pursuits for possibly the first time in decades. Among the many ideas you could discuss with them are:

1. Lunch Clubs

Lunch clubs are a great way for elderly people to maintain their social life. There are many many of these – some run by the local church or community centre, or by charities and other organisations.  Many also offer fun additional activities including board games, exercise classes, reading and writing sessions and arts and crafts – not forgetting the bingo and raffles etc.

2. University of the Third Age (U3A)

University of the Third Age is a fantastic organisation with branches throughout the UK offering not only monthly meet up sessions with guest speakers but, often, a whole range of interest groups too. It’s dedicated to giving the retired and elderly activities to participate in everything from art appreciation to wine-tasting. Members are able to share their skills and experience and teach others selected activities in small groups that meet up regularly. To see for yourself check out the website here U3A.

3. The WI

For women, the WI offers a wide range of activities – apart from jam making – and is an extraordinary local network for women as is organisations like NADFAS.    While men might want to get involved in something a little different and check out more of the international charitable groups that offer a social life with purpose such as Probus. Probus offers men the opportunity to travel and participate in the more social activities such as attending football games, travelling and day trips.

4. Men in Sheds

For men,  ‘Men in sheds’ is a good option to look at! A project set up by Age UK supporting older men getting together to share and learn new skills. The men are given a space to work together with tools and equipment and decide on what activities they would like to do including building, wood work, crafts and gardening. This is a great project that offers inter-generational work and socialisation for elderly men.

5. Other Social Groups

Other interest groups and clubs, such as book or film clubs, painting, bridge or music clubs, chess clubs and much more. The local library will be the best source of what’s on and where. Alternatively you can look for the perfect groups at Age UK which provides information on all the support and clubs in your specified area.

6. Leisure Centres

Visit the local leisure centre to see if they run daytime exercise classes aimed at older people. Older age is also a good time to take up one of the gentler kinds of yoga or tai chi that focus on flexibility rather than burning calories. Leisure centres often provide a wide range of activities to suit all including swimming, water aerobics and yoga.

7. Age UK

Your local branch of Age UK will also be a good source of information on activities near them aimed at older people. Some branches organise their own lunch clubs, social events and fitness classes. For more information on what they have to offer visit the website here at Age UK.

8. Volunteering

Depending on how active your elderly parents are, there are literally thousands of organisations crying out for volunteers. It doesn’t have to be a charity shop: museums, art galleries, the local hospital, animal sanctuary and many more would love their help. You can find the nearest Volunteer Centre where they list vacancies here.

It may seem over-the-top to be engineering your elderly parent’s social life, but loneliness and isolation is such a huge issue for many elderly people and a really significant factor in mental health.  From a selfish point of view, it’s good to know that your parent is doing something on days when you can’t see them or be in touch, and it increases the number of people they are in regular contact with, who may well notice if something is wrong.

As well as keeping busy,  elderly people, of course, need to eat and drink properly and to remain healthy.

Have you got any tips on hobbies for elderly people, for what has worked for your parent or friend? Or do you know of any great charities or groups which can help? Join the conversation and share your experience in Age Space Forum.