How to Organize Activities for the Elderly

Plus Ideas for Activities for the Elderly

Although later life may seem to involve a lot of rest, health care, and medical support, there are other vital aspects to enjoying older years, including activities for senior citizens.

Above all else, daily activities help us socialize, engage and have fun, regardless of our age, mental or physical condition. Why should older people miss out on all that?

So, what do older people do for fun - and who can readily do them? Read on for an easy step-by-step guide on organizing activities for the elderly. 

How to Plan Activities for Older Adults: Our Top Tips

How to Organize Activities for the Elderly: Understand Why Activities are Important

Understand Why Activities are Important

Before you start planning your activity schedule, it's vital to understand why activities are so crucial for people at any stage of life. Not only do activities help with the physical side of things, such as increasing mobility and keeping our joints in good shape, but they can also:

  • Help our memory
  • Improve our ability to learn new things
  • And improve our spatial and motor skills

Activities also help reduce loneliness, boost bonding and socializing and improve our overall wellbeing and mood, creating fond memories to look back on and laugh at. They can even subside and prevent stress and depression. What's not to love? 

How to Organize Activities for the Elderly: Tailor the Activities

Tailor the Activities

When people get older, indeed, their joints and mobility might not be as good as they once were. Achy hips, sore knees, and arthritis are just a couple of older people's everyday health problems, which rule out intensive activities like running and jumping. 

So, the key to organizing activities for the elderly is to tailor them to individual needs and abilities. For example, an older person may no longer do physical exercise. However, they still enjoy arts and crafts or music. In contrast, another person who dislikes crafting may be able to do some gentle Pilates.

Get to know each person, talk to them, find out what they like and don't like, and start making some suggestions on the type of activity they might enjoy.

How to Organize Activities for the Elderly: Be Prepared

Be Prepared

The next step is to prepare everything well in advance. If you are working in a team, ensure that each team member has a task. These can include getting in touch with an entertainer or a minibus service to arrange transport and setting up chairs for a seated exercise class.

If you are planning a day trip, speak to the manager of the place you're visiting to plan your visit. Make sure any accessibility measures, including wheelchair access, are in place.

If your activity involves community groups such as schools, churches, or charities, get in touch with the groups' organizers first to discuss your options.

How to Organize Activities for the Elderly: Teamwork is Key

Teamwork is Key

Arranging activities for the elderly can be time-consuming and laborious work! To get the best possible result, work as a team to share the load and ensure deadlines are met. Regular team meetings and check-ins with your participants will help to keep things running smoothly. They'll also highlight any potential issues to be aware of as you go.

Be patient and compassionate towards your participants. If, at first, they don't understand the activity or have difficulty with it, guide them through it as a team and offer a helping hand where needed.

How to Organize Activities for the Elderly: Get Feedback

Get Feedback

Feedback is essential when organizing activities for the elderly, helping you keep track of which activities were enjoyed and which weren't, as well as suggestions on how to improve them. Ask participants what they thought of the activity and take feedback on board to make it an even better experience in the future.

Don't be disheartened if a particular activity didn't go to plan or wasn't a success. It's all a learning curve for next time!

Nursing Home Activities

Suppose you or your loved ones plan to live in a care home or already do. In that case, there is often a carefully tailored collection of assisted living activities to keep residents entertained every day. Some care homes even have a special activities coordinator or a senior living activities team to create fun plans each week.

The staff takes the time to get to know residents to best plan their activities for older people. They learn about their religion, beliefs, and background and find out what they enjoy. This includes what makes them smile, any hobbies they used to enjoy before going into a care home, and any new hobbies or experiences they've always wanted to try.

For those living in a nursing home offering dementia care, there are special activities for seniors with dementia. They can help keep those with the condition engaged, give their day structure, and let them have fun while still feeling safe and comfortable. Dementia activities might include:

  • Creating a memory box
  • Using sensory equipment
  • Storytelling or reminiscence activities such as baking a favorite treat

Care home activity plans usually include physical exercise options, sensory experiences, and emotional or spiritual activities to entertain various interests and abilities. Residents are encouraged to participate in daily activities to socialize and bond with fellow residents. However, joining in is always compulsory, and residents can spend their day as they please.

Senior Activities Ideas and Examples

Older people can do many activities, depending on their hobbies and interests and how mobile they are. Below, we've provided an inspirational list of various fun activities for seniors.

Physical exercise for seniors

Physical Exercise for Seniors

The types of recreational activities for the elderly include seated exercises, such as chair exercises and dances, walking, dancing, yoga, pilates, carpet bowls, and skittles. Some care home residents also enjoy helping with household chores like doing or folding laundry to keep active.

Hands-On Activities for Seniors

Hands-On Activities for Seniors

Suppose older adults find it challenging to move around but still want to use their motor skills. In that case, these hobbies for seniors are hands-focused:

  • Cooking and baking
  • Painting
  • Origami
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting and embroidery
  • Quilting
  • Beading
  • Jewelry making
  • And board games

Many of these things for seniors to do can be done sitting in a cozy armchair. 

Sensory activities for seniors

Sensory Activities for Seniors

Many older people enjoy sensory activities, such as hair appointments, massages, beauty therapy, spa days, and grooming. These unique activities for seniors help boost wellness, reduce feelings of loneliness or isolation, and provide an opportunity for a bit of pampering. 

Solo activities for seniors

Solo Activities for Seniors

Not everyone wants to be in a group all the time. Providing solo activities is a great way to include people who prefer to spend some time alone. Reading, puzzles, crosswords, and watching films all suit a more solitary style. Book and film clubs can be introduced to people who love to chat about their favorite books and movies.

Social activities for seniors

Social Activities for Seniors

For the more sociable seniors, music and singing, bingo, barbecues, special meals, and visits from family members, loved ones, and schools and PAT (Pets As Therapy) animals are all fun activities to try out. You could even look at running some exciting themed nights, like a murder mystery, a pub quiz, or a masquerade ball, and encourage attendees to dress up.

Outdoor activities for seniors

Outdoor Activities for Seniors

Fresh air has been proven to have multiple health benefits, so what could be better than some outdoor activities to clear the cobwebs? Gardening - including sweeping, digging, weeding, watering, and pruning - bird watching and nature photography are all fantastic options for older adults who love the outdoors.

Be advised that seniors need supervision while outdoors, especially those with dementia, and may be prone to wander.

Learning activities for seniors

Learning Activities for Seniors

It's never too late to learn new things. Educational activities are another popular choice among older people. Why not see if anyone is interested in learning a foreign language, using a computer, doing photography or creative writing, learning to cook a new meal, or playing an instrument?

Day trips and excursions

Day Trips and Excursions

Exploring new surroundings is always fun; making day trips and excursions an excellent way to engage older adults. Organizing trips to museums, cinemas, concerts, theatres, nearby wineries or eateries, National Trust sites, and even theme parks can help older adults laugh, bond, and experience joy. 

Activities in winter

Activities in Winter

Indoor activities for seniors can be beneficial in colder seasons like winter, helping to beat the winter blues and reduce the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). If it's too wet and cold to play outside, bring the fun indoors with festive games for older adults, hot drinks, and a movie night or two. 

We hope we've given you some inspiration with these fun senior activities ideas. Above all, listen to your older adults, understand their abilities, and tailor all activities to meet their unique needs and preferences.

Whether someone has a burning desire to skydive or is happiest in a corner with a good book, you can make it happen and give them that moment of joy that activities help create. 

Additional Caregiving Resources

5 Common Caregiving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

5 Common Caregiving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

The Ultimate Guide to Caregiver Burnout

The Ultimate Guide to Caregiver Burnout

104 Caregiver Quotes

104 Caregiver Quotes

23 Tips for New Caregivers

23 Tips for New Caregivers


About the Author

Will Donnelly is the co-founder of Lottie, a digital marketplace that connects care seekers to the UK's best care homes at a fair price. He is one of the UK's leading later living experts. Before co-founding Lottie, Will spent over 5-years advising the UK's leading care and retirement operators and was part of the property team that helped the NHS throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Carex Health Brands

Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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