Isolation can be a severe problem, especially among the elderly. Due to various factors, they tend to spend more time alone than other demographics, and being alone has been linked to several physical and mental issues that can have severe consequences if not addressed in time. Luckily, there are ways you can help people overcome isolation, and the first step is finding out what kinds of activities they enjoy. These fun and engaging activities will give them something to look forward to while also being enjoyable to do around friends or family members who could provide additional support as needed. Here are just a few ideas to get you started!
Read a Book
Just like it’s important to keep children entertained with fun, engaging activities while they’re isolated, we also want to make sure that we don’t forget about family members in isolation. Sometimes kids need to be kept busy, and sometimes adults do too! When you visit an older person confined to their room or home due to illness or injury, consider taking them a book from their favorite genre or author. If your loved one loves horror books, try buying them a scary book. If they love drama novels, get them something dramatic. Whether it’s an oldie but goodie they can reminisce about or a new bestseller that matches their interests, you might just find something that sparks their interest.
Sewing, quilting, knitting, or cross-stitching are all great activities that can provide mental stimulation while letting you get creative. If you’ve got an embroidery machine gathering dust, use it! Or find some other ways to be creative with simple crafts. How about making your own holiday decorations? Just start sewing together fabric shapes or felt circles to make your own hand-sewn ball ornaments! You’ll have a new craft to do every year. The best part is that all of these projects are easy enough for people over the age of 65 with arthritis to enjoy as well!
Exercise is one of the best ways to combat loneliness, especially among people over the age of 65. It’s also great at preventing depression, so much so that doctors now prescribe exercise as part of treatment. There are several different types of activities you can do to help your loved one stay active. You could take him or her on walks through their neighborhood, go swimming together, work out in a gym together, play sports like badminton or tennis with them, or organize dance-offs at home.
All family members can enjoy games like Scrabble, Memory, or Parcheesi. Playing games helps improve cognitive function as well as socialization. Try to play at least one game per day with your loved one to keep their brain active. Puzzles can be done individually or with other loved ones who live alone in long-term care centers.
Take a Walk
If your loved one spends a lot of time sitting in front of a television screen, set a goal with him or her to take a walk every day. While it may seem like a small commitment at first, you’ll find that it can have powerful results. A study from Arizona State University found that older adults who spent just 15 minutes walking each day could improve their cognitive functioning by as much as 7 percent. If you live close enough to your local high school, see if there are any walking clubs available—even if they only meet once per week.