If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that we need to grab life with both hands. Lots of us are ready to step back out and enjoy ourselves. Elderly people have had a particularly challenging couple of years. They were asked to shield at the beginning of the pandemic and many older people were unable to see their relatives for months at a time. Thankfully, the vaccine rollout means life is slowly getting back to normal. Here are some of our favourite activities for elderly people.
We'll have something for everybody in this guide, from the most active elderly people to those with limited mobility; from the sports fans to the shopaholics. Keep reading to discover 18 great things to do with elderly parents and relatives.
Activities for Elderly People - Staying Active
There's a common misconception that elderly people can't stay active but this simply isn't true. Granted, our bungee-jumping days might be behind us once we hit 65 or so, but that doesn't mean we have to spend all our time on the sofa. Here are some of the best physical activities for elderly people.
"Adults aged 65 or older who are generally fit and have no health conditions that limit their mobility should try to be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or a mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week."
The NHS also has a handy Fitness Studio with exercise videos for beginners. 'Moderate exercise' can take many forms. It could include:
- Ballroom and line dancing
- Pushing a lawnmower
- Water aerobics
If you're trying to encourage an elderly loved one to take up a new hobby, why not join in with them? If your loved one has any medical conditions that affect their mobility, it's worth consulting a GP before starting a new exercise regime.
Yoga is another excellent form of exercise for people of all ages. It's especially great for older people as it builds flexibility, balance and strength. Yoga also has mood-boosting benefits. It's easy to get started, even if your loved one is a total beginner.
There are plenty of yoga DVDs available, as well as lots of free videos on YouTube. Alternatively, why not attend a yoga class with your elderly loved one? This makes yoga a social occasion as well as a great form of exercise.
As an activity for older people, yoga is more accessible than you think. In fact, chair yoga is seeing a surge in popularity - even if your elderly loved one has issues with mobility or getting up from the floor, they can still give yoga a try.
3. Wii Sports
Perhaps your parent is more of an inside person and doesn't feel like joining an exercise class or playing sport outside. Never fear. There are plenty of effective ways to exercise indoors too. Wii Sports is one of the best activities for elderly people to help them stay active.
You'll probably remember the Nintendo Wii console, which took the world by storm in 2007. Wii Sports was its flagship sports game. It features five fun sports: tennis, bowling, golf, boxing, and baseball. Instead of pressing buttons or moving a joystick, players use their bodies to play the game, as if they were swinging a golf club or bowling a ball. It's far less strenuous than playing these sports in the real world, making it an ideal activity for an elderly person who is fairly new to exercise.
If you're looking to do something different, then a day trip is definitely worth considering. If you don't like the sound of travelling far, there is sure to be something nearby, just a short bus or car journey away. Alternatively, if you'd rather travel further afield, the UK is bursting with attractions and activities for elderly people.
During the coronavirus lockdown, plenty of attractions started offering virtual tours online. These are a great way to get a change of scenery without leaving the comfort of your home - ideal for an elderly person with limited mobility.
Our next activities to do with elderly loved ones are all brilliant day trips.
4. Museums and Stately Homes
The UK is home to a plethora of stately homes, hundreds of historic castles, and plenty of museums (many of which are free to enter). If you're looking for a family day out which is suitable for the older generation, we've got some ideas for you. Best of all: they're free!
- The National Gallery, London.
- Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham.
- Walking Tour of Bath, Somerset.
- House of Godolphin, Cornwall.
The National Trust has over 200 gardens to visit around the UK. No matter where you're based, there's bound to be something near you. Garden walks are not only enjoyable but they're also a great way to exercise and socialise at the same time.
What's more, spending time outdoors has huge benefits for elderly health. Vitamin D, which our bodies create from direct sunlight on our skin, helps the body function more efficiently. This is because it maximises calcium absorption and promotes bone and dental health. It can also improve mood and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more. What's not to like?
In addition, spending time in nature can lower stress levels and improve blood pressure. Endorphins in the body will also get your elderly loved one pumped up and feeling good from all of the moving and exercising they're doing.
6. A Day at the Races
A day at the races can be a lovely treat every now and then - perhaps to celebrate a birthday or similar special occasion. It's a chance to get dressed up, spend a day outside in the sunshine, and maybe even win some money if you place a lucky bet!
According to the British Horseracing Authority, there are 60 racecourses in the UK. You can visit their website to find your nearest track, as well as the date of their next fixture.
7. Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea is an absolute staple of British leisure. To many older people, it's a symbol of the past and of happy memories. Nowadays, afternoon tea can be a luxury treat in a posh hotel or restaurant. However, there's no need to splash the cash if you don't want to. Why not have afternoon tea at home with your elderly parents? A simple spread of sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and perhaps a slice or two of Victoria sponge will do just fine. Not to mention plenty of tea, of course!
More Day Trips for the Elderly
Some other great ideas for a day trip are:
- A day at the seaside.
- A river trip or boat hire.
- If your loved one is feeling particularly active, you could even treat them to an adventure such as Go Ape, or Zip World (home of the longest zip wire in the northern hemisphere).
Activities for Elderly People - Holidays
Ageing doesn't mean that dreams of travelling the world are over. In fact, retirement is the perfect opportunity to travel and make good use of your spare time. What's more, holidays can be good for your health because they relieve stress. In fact, several studies have found that people who don't take regular holidays are more likely to suffer from heart disease.
A getaway is also great for catching up on sleep and increasing productivity - people can feel their most inspired whilst on holiday. While you're away, why not pick up that book you've been meaning to read all year? Furthermore, a holiday is a perfect opportunity to try out some new activities. How about hiking, scuba diving, surfing, or kayaking?
As an older person, it's likely that your relative may need a little extra help when it comes to planning a holiday. But don't worry, there are lots of options out there.
8. Holiday Tours
Escorted tours are a fantastic choice, with most companies offering coach trips and a door to door service. This means that you can be picked up from your front door and guided along the way, with a tour manager taking care of the logistics and complicated things.
9. Cruises for the Elderly
Next, cruise ships are a great place to make friends with like-minded people of a similar age. Most cruises offer plenty of pre-planned activities on board. Of course, a cruise can be a rather expensive option, but you'd be surprised at some of the deals you can find when you shop online and book well in advance.
10. Coach Trips
Coach trips are similarly very convenient, as you're able to see lots of sites without the hassle of driving to them all or relying on public trains or buses. The cost of the holiday will cover all your excursions plus your accommodation. Some will include meals too.
11. Hobbies & Holidays
If your loved one would like to enjoy a hobby whilst on holiday, why not choose a tailor-made holiday package? SmoothRed offer wine tasting holidays across Europe where you can learn about wine along the way. Brightwater Holidays offer a unique garden experience working closely with the Royal Horticultural Society. If you're a fan of dancing, Personal Touch can tailor-make a trip around your hobby or activity!
We all know that loneliness can be bad for your mental health, but did you know that it can impact your physical health too? Some experts suggest that loneliness can be as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Socialising and attending group activities are great ways to make friends, boost your immune system, and reduce the risk of stroke and other medical issues.
Depending on your loved one's likes and dislikes, you could find them a group to join to help them stay active. This may be something you can join as well and enjoy it together. There are hundreds of groups and activities for elderly people. Here are some we recommend:
12. Murder Mystery Night
Planning and hosting a murder mystery night can be great fun. If your loved one's family and friends live far away, video-call services such as Zoom can come to the rescue. Alternatively, if you don't feel like doing the organising, plenty of local theatres and similar venues hold their own murder mystery nights. This can be a thoroughly fun evening of dressing up, meeting new people, and putting your mental muscles to the test.
13. Join a Men's Shed
A Men's Shed is a community space where men (and women) can come together and enjoy learning new skills. Those who attend are called Shedders and they often enjoy crafts like woodworking, metalworking, and repairing. There are often community projects to dive into as well. Many Men's Sheds help to maintain local parks or build things for nearby schools and libraries. To find your nearest Shed, visit the Men's Sheds Association website and enter your postcode.
14. Join an Exercise Class
As we discussed earlier, physical activities are a great way for elderly people to enjoy themselves and stay fit at the same time. Joining an exercise class offers even more benefits: meeting new people, learning a new skill from a trained instructor, and building a regular routine.
There are so many exercise classes for older people. If you're not sure where to start, try searching for a local community centre online and see what groups they offer. Alternatively, Age UK offer a range of exercise classes such as Tai Chi, pilates, walking football, and plenty more. Go to the Age UK website and enter your postcode to find your nearest branch.
More Group Activities for Older People
- Join a games group - Whether it be board games or puzzles, games are a great way to exercise the mind while making new friends.
- Join a walking club - Walking is a great way to exercise gently without putting too much strain on the body. Join a local group and walk through the scenic surroundings whilst meeting new people.
- Try a new restaurant or plan a night at the cinema - Perhaps give your parent or grandparent a nudge to invite their new friend from the walking club.
- Spend the day with the grandchildren - we've got a whole article full of fun and affordable things to do with your favourite little people.
- Join a book group - Book groups are a wonderful way to make new friends and discover books you never would have read otherwise. Many hold weekly or monthly meetings in coffee shops and libraries, giving elderly readers a chance to get out and about.
Please Note: Many social groups have moved online because of the pandemic, using platforms such as Zoom. We'd advise making sure that your elderly loved ones have reliable internet access so they can keep in touch with friends and family and participate in online activities.
Other Activities for the Elderly
If the activities above haven't taken your fancy, here are some other great activities for older people to enjoy. Whether your elderly loved one wants a new hobby to enjoy by themselves or some new activities to try with friends and family, there will be something for them here.
This could be a great project for you and your elderly loved one to do together. Tracing your family tree is a challenging but rewarding task, made more and more popular by programmes like Who Do You Think You Are?
There are plenty of online services and resources which can help you trace your family tree. However, there is no need to pay for a service if you don't want to. You can find free resources online and in person at certain archives if you know where to look. For more information, read Trace Your Family Tree: Activities for Older People.
16. Arts and Crafts
There are so many arts and crafts activities for elderly people to enjoy - whether by themselves or with relatives. Craft projects can be a wonderful way for older people to spend quality time with their grandchildren. Why not put together a family photo album or scrapbook?
Another great craft idea is to knit or crochet a blanket for a family member or sew a memory quilt from old shirts, blankets, bedsheets, and other scraps of fabric.
If your elderly loved one is looking to ease themselves into their creativity, why not invest in a colouring book and some pencils. You might think that colouring is just for children, but colouring books for adults have become very popular in recent years. Colouring can be very soothing and relaxing. If your elderly parent has a visual impairment, look for large print books, which are easily available online.
Baking a cake or a loaf of bread from scratch is incredibly satisfying. It's also a great way to maintain dexterity and hand-eye coordination, which can sometimes decline with age. Why not ask your parent to teach you their favourite recipe or help the grandchildren to make simple fairy cakes?
If your elderly parent has lost their confidence in the kitchen, check out our article: 6 Affordable Kitchen Gadgets for Your Ageing Parents
Volunteering is one of the most rewarding activities anyone can do, regardless of age. However, it's a great activity for older people as it provides a sense of routine and purpose after retirement. Many people feel overwhelmed by all their newfound free time once they give up work. If that sounds like your elderly relative, we'd recommend helping them find a worthwhile cause to volunteer for. Perhaps they could help out in a charity shop, volunteer at an animal shelter, or assist at the local library. Giving back to the community is a wonderful way for elderly people to spend free time, meet new people, and boost their confidence.
When your loved ones aren't out and about enjoying themselves, make sure they are safe at home. Our personal alarms are a perfect way to make sure help is always at hand in an emergency.
Here's how the alarm system works.
- The alarm user wears a lightweight Careline pendant on their wrist or around their neck.
- If they have a fall or need assistance, they press the button on their pendant.
- This triggers a call to our 24-Hour Monitoring Centre, where trained Care Team operators will respond straight away.
- Our Care Team will send help - we'll usually call the user's emergency contacts (relatives, friends, and neighbours) to come and assist them. If needed, we'll also call for an ambulance.
Editor's Note: This post was updated on 5th April 2022 to reflect current information.