According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 54 million people aged 65 and over in the US alone, with many suffering from limited mobility, whether due to severe arthritis, injuries, or various other inflictions. Whatever the predicament, their reduced mobility can limit the kinds of activities they do and stop them from doing the things they once loved. However, this doesn't mean that they can't participate in enjoyable activities and hobbies and still have a fun and fulfilling older life.
We all know that contentment and happiness are directly related to the relationships we keep, our mental and physical health, and also the daily routines we build into our life. In a study by the University of California, in which 1,500 San Diego residents aged 21 to 99 were surveyed, people in their 90s were found to be some of the most content, due to the applications of daily stimulation through fun and engaging activities. With the right approach, a wholesome and complete life can be maintained easily by those in their old age.
Music is an international language, and despite the consistent changes in sound, technology, style, and genre, it's something that we can all relate to, regardless of age. Music therapy has been a method of treating issues like depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer's for some time. Listening to music from an individual's past has been shown to improve cognitive function, memory, communication skills, and general mood.
Fishing may not be for everyone, and certainly, its popularity isn't as it once was in the past, but the calming benefits of such an easy-to-pick-up sport are undeniable. Fishing has been shown to relieve stress due to its usually tranquil and quiet outside setting, often surrounded by nature and requiring very little as far as mobility is concerned. Fishing also promotes socialization; as most of the time, you are waiting patiently for a catch, allowing you to peacefully converse with whoever accompanies you.
Flower arranging is not just something that the elderly can benefit from but an activity that is often overlooked in general. For those with limited mobility, it's perfect, as the only movement required is through manual dexterity, which can hugely benefit those with arthritis. Flower arrangements also look great, which boosts the mood for those who created them, and for everyone else who shares the same space.
Chess is the ultimate game of mental agility, and although it can be fairly easy to pick up, it can take a lifetime to master. For the elderly with mobility issues, it couldn't be a better activity, as chess barely requires you to move. Playing chess actively engages the brain and has been shown to strengthen problem-solving and logical reasoning and improve physical health and social connections.
A 2016 study by the American Association of Retired Persons and the Entertainment Software Association found 38% of Americans aged 50+ played video games; in 2021, gamers between 55-64 grew 32% in just three years. Long seen purely as play or escapism, the scientific community has shown increased interest in video games' benefit to our physical and mental health. Gaming can help stave off mild cognitive impairment or even help prevent the likes of Alzheimer's. Grabbing an old console and a few key games can help a senior engage with a colorful world in seconds - we've even a list of suggestions.
Not just a sport for the bars of the world, but an easy, portable and fun activity to do anywhere there's room. While more intense sporting activities may be off the menu for many seniors, darts are ideal for those who have issues with their legs. There's even a World Seniors Darts Championship with a big following and prizes. If you're worried about sharp darts flying around the place, there are foam and rubber alternatives also.
A sport synonymous with seniors, bowls is the classy cousin to bowling which originated from Europe, most likely ancient Rome. While visiting a beautifully maintained bowling green and joining a club is a fun hobby in itself, bowls can easily be done in a large enough room, a garden, and even the beach. It's low impact, and players needn't stand to roll the bowls to the jack (the little ball.)
Pottery can not only help seniors unleash their creative juices but can also provide a great sense of accomplishment - or a few laughs if the creation goes haywire. Ceramists have enjoyed the meditative power of creating something with their hands for thousands of years. It's a hobby many older people pick up in later life, and for good reason. It's calming, engaging and when done right, you can create something truly beautiful to show to the world.
It's hard to beat the power of a good film, and best of all, you don't have to rely on the weather to enjoy one! A classic movie won't only engage viewers for a couple of hours; if you choose the right one, you'll provide a way for seniors to reminisce about their youth. Much like a good song, a great movie can act as a time machine to younger days and help access buried memories. After all, seniors nowadays grew up with some of the greatest films in cinema history.
Joint pain is sadly no stranger to the elderly, but luckily swimming can prove not only great exercise but excellent relief for those who suffer from it. Floating weightless gives the body some well-earned respite from gravity and is fun no matter your age. There's a reason why water aerobics are common in retirement homes across the globe. The joys of swimming and splashing about can be enjoyed well into our twilight years.
Nothing can get the blood rushing like Monopoly. For over eight decades, this classic board game has entertained - and tormented - families. Part of the game's success is how engaging and fun it can be, and it's a perfect activity for seniors, mobile or not.
There's a familiarity to it; most people of all ages know the rules or general concept, and it can take hours to complete. It's a classic for a reason.
We hope the above has given the reader some inspiration, but there's so much more that can be done to keep seniors active and engaged. Word games, crosswords and Scrabble, in particular, are easy ways to keep people's gray matter sharp. Sudoku, Words With Friends, and much more can now be enjoyed online and will help players keep connected to friends and family. More than that, unscramble tools like words with friends cheat or anagram solver will add a healthy dash of competition to their day.
About the Author
Casey Wise is a British journalist, creative copywriter, and music creator with a deep passion for language, travel, and technology. Based in Barcelona, his work extends from local start-ups and newspapers to university radio and the British NHS.