Are you on the lookout for ideas to keep your loved one active during these cold, wintry months? Depending on their mobility and health condition, the idea of staying active during months of snow, ice and cold weather can seem daunting. Listed are some ideas that can not only help seniors but just about anyone get through hard winter months.
1. Cook together
Making a delicious, hot meal with your parent or spouse has surprising, heartwarming benefits. Not only can you spend time together actively doing something, but the act of reading recipes, measuring, setting timers and cooking is great stimulation for the brain and helps fight cognitive decline and memory loss.
For those who use a wheelchair to get around, tasks that don’t involve standing at the stove are best – reading the recipe, setting a timer, or stirring ingredients together on a low table are creative ways to involve them in the cooking fun.
2. Knit, crochet, or quilt
Can the person you care for turn their hobby into a way to care for others? Knitting, quilting or crocheting make great indoor activities during those winter days spent by a warm fire with a cup of tea.
These activities also carry a positive outcome. Seniors could knit hats to donate to local homeless shelters or hospitals, make a quilt for a grandchild, or crochet blankets for children in need (check out Project Linus). These are engaging activities for your older adult as well as a way for them give back to others and feel good about themselves.
(Not a knitter? It’s easy to get started with a loom, some yarn, and quick tutorial videos on YouTube.)
Literally warm the heart by pumping up the blood flow with low-impact exercises your older adult can do at home. Routine exercise is hugely beneficial to older adults and can include activities like daily walks, yoga, swimming, or even getting in a good stretch while sitting in a wheelchair.
Exercise is critical to preventing illnesses and ailments that often accompany old age (like dementia, back pain, high blood pressure, and diabetes). It also boosts feelings of positivity and confidence. Regular physical fitness helps with coordination and balance too, which are key to preventing falls in the home.
4. Video chat with family and friends
Cold winter days can lead to seniors spending a significant amount of time indoors. Combat feelings of isolation or loneliness by taking the time to reach out to friends and family who may live far away.
A free Skype or Google+ account lets anyone video chat using their computer or laptop, or if you have an iPhone, you can video chat via Facetime with others who have iPhones. Set up regular video chat dates with family or old friends during times of the day when your older adult is most awake and alert.
Not only does connecting with others benefit your older adult’s overall well-being, it also gives them something to look forward to during seasonally darker days.
5. Make “blessings bags”
Warm the heart by helping your older adult show their community some love. Needing help in their daily life or having to use an assisted walking device or wheelchair can leave seniors feeling helpless or like they’ve lost the ability to help others. Show them this isn’t the case by helping them with a project that makes a positive impact on their community.
“Blessings Bags” are simply bags filled with helpful supplies, snacks, and drinks that can be handed out to homeless people around town or at a shelter.
At your local grocery or pharmacy store, purchase:
- Warm adult socks
- Bottles of water or sports drinks
- Small snacks like granola bars, crackers or fruit snacks
- Trial size toiletries like toothbrush with toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick
- Other helpful items like wet wipes, hats, and gloves
Give your older adult some one-gallon size plastic bags and all the supplies to go in them. As a fun activity, they can assemble the “Blessings Bags” and could even write a nice note to place in each one. Stock the car with the bags to have on hand when you go on outings together.
6. Work a Puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles are a great source of entertainment while keeping your mind stimulated. Choose a puzzle that relates to your interests and hobbies, and have fun seeing the picture come together piece by piece.
7. Enjoy Art
Explore your creativity and pass the time with painting, crafts or adult coloring books. You can do this alone or enjoy these activities with friends and family. There are many different ways to enjoy art that can create hours of fun.
8. Read a Book
The benefits of reading are endless and can include reducing stress, expanding your vocabulary and creating new perspectives – all while passing the time. Plus, there are many different types of books to pick from, so there is bound to be one to spark your interest. If you’re not interested in reading, why not listen to an audio book?