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 put this together to help give you some ideas to help keep elderly parents busy.
Ideas to keep elderly busy
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 to keep elderly parents busy and help them 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 . The Arts Society. 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. Your 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. The Pabulum Café in Wymondham is a dementia support group that provides various activities to elderly people. Aiming to keep them mentally and physically active offering support and advice groups, board games, singing groups, craft work, reading groups, quizzes and ICT support. Along with sport and social activities including skittles, table tennis and bean bag bulls eye. The Cafe also has it’s very own peace gardens where the elderly can go and relax.
If your elderly parent is interested in a more uplifting activity such as singing and dancing the Tuneless Choir would be a great group for them to join. With many groups up and down the UK it is easy for elderly people to become involved in singing. Aiming to give elderly a voice, they can join and meet other people, have the chance to learn new songs and experience going on stage and performing live with the choir. If you’re interested in hearing more visit Maidenhead Tuneless Choir, they have a variety of upcoming events including performing at the Maidenhead Summer Music Festival.
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. Getting quality trampolines or visiting trampolines parks are also a great and fun way to exercise for the elderly.
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. They have some fantastic ideas to help keep elderly parents busy. 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.
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.
Additional Resources to help keep elderly parents busy
Age UK offers tons of projects for men and women. For more information on The Men in Shed’s project check out their very own website. To stay up to date search your local men in shed’s social media and don’t forget to like and follow on Facebook and Twitter.
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.