18 Activity Ideas for Elderly Loved Ones

We’ve compiled a list of 18 remote activities to help keep your elderly loved ones mentally and physically active throughout winter, and help them overcome feelings of loneliness at Christmas.

Published: 15 Dec 2020

With self-isolation as the new normal, your elderly loved ones may be missing their usual outings with family and friends, groups such as ‘Knit and Natter’, bridge games, religious services, book clubs, or just casual social visits.

During the festive season, loneliness can be amplified, especially for those living alone or in a care-home away from their loved ones. Keeping busy and feeling needed can really help to alleviate loneliness, boost their mood and stay engaged.

Check out our 18 activity ideas, which will hopefully help with this.

  • Organise photo albums. Print off some family photos and see whether your elderly parent/loved one might like to put them into an album for you.
  • Reading. Purchase a new book, magazine, or download an audiobook for them. You could even arrange for a subscription to their favourite magazine, or for those struggling with sight-loss, have a look at Audible for audio books.
  • Virtual/telephone book club. Help them to organise a book club with a friend or two, they can schedule a phone or video call to discuss their chosen book.
  • Gardening. If it’s a bit cold outside, this can be indoor or container gardening. Virtually visit a garden centre for plants, for example Crocus.
  • Listen to music. If they don’t have a very good music collection or are a bit bored of what they have, why not introduce them to podcasts and Spotify for more variety.
  • Regular phone/video calls. Schedule in regular phone/video calls with family and friends.
  • Playing cards. Online card games are great for those living alone.
  • Puzzles. There are so many to choose from, for example, crosswords, Sudoku, spot the differences, word searches, anagrams, and word ladders to name just a few! Why not buy them a puzzle book with a variety of different ones to have a go at, or if they are tech savvy, download some apps.
  • Jigsaws. If they have completed all their old ones, maybe look at getting a new one to spark their interest in them again. Jigsaws can be great for those with dexterity issues or memory problems, exercising their fingers as well as their minds.
  • Artistic pursuits. This could include anything from painting, drawing and collage, to paint-by-numbers or scrapbooking.
  • Mindfulness exercises. There are many mindfulness exercises and information about their benefits online. Age UK have some interesting information here.
  • Crafts. Examples include: making cards, decorations, bookmarks and gifts – perfect for getting them involved in Christmas preparations and making them feel useful.
  • Encourage hobbies. For example, baking, knitting, playing a musical instrument, sewing or crochet, or start up a new hobby (there are lots of tutorials available online).
  • Regular exercise (depending on mobility). Encourage them to go for a short stroll, or try seated exercises or chair yoga (have a look online for more ideas).
  • Make a family recipe book. Dig out all the family favourites and ‘secret’ family recipes and if your elderly parent is able, see if they’d like to put them all together in a recipe book/file.
  • Spend time outdoors. If your parent has limited mobility, or it’s a little chilly out, encourage them to spend a bit of time sitting next to a big window with a view of nature and the outside. If you’re able to, take them for a drive to have a look at the Christmas lights in your area – it’s bound to lift spirits and get them in the mood for Christmas.
  • Watch a documentary, movie or an online concert. There's an abundance of incredible adult resources online, many of which are free.
  • Go on a virtual museum or zoo tour. Since the first lockdown, many museums and zoos made visits possible by offering virtual tours.

Many of these activities will help to keep your elderly loved ones’ brain engaged, improve dexterity and memory, reduce stress, improve sleep and delay cognitive decline. Learning or trying new things is a great way to keep the mind active, prevent boredom and alleviate loneliness. Creative activities and having a regular hobby can have health and mood benefits, helping to reduce stress and anxiety.

Developing their interests, introducing a routine or creating some structure to their day is something that will benefit them all year round, so these ideas are not just for Christmas! 

Useful Resources:

For links to music concerts and plays, virtual museum tours, audio books and zoo tours, or for online puzzles and brain games, read our blog 20 Online and Offline Resources for the Elderly.

Support elderly loved ones by keeping them connected. Check out our top tips on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp: Social Apps for Seniors: 3 Easy Wins