100+ Activity Ideas for Seniors in Assisted Living
Paul Williamson – December 1st, 2020
Paul Williamson – December 1st, 2020
As the United States senior population continues to grow, older adults are searching for viable senior living options that meet their needs. Many senior citizens choose assisted living communities, which serve as a bridge between independent living and skilled nursing home care.
Assisted living communities are designed to care for older adults’ bodies and minds. Activity directors plan a multitude of activities and events that will likely appeal to seniors. In fact, residents often enjoy a high quality of life and increased well-being because of the various programs. Keep reading to learn more about the different assisted living activities.
In an assisted living community, caregivers provide resident support services, such as bathing, dressing, continence care, medication supervision, and meal consumption. If the facility includes a memory care and
Alzheimer’s disease wing, residents receive additional healthcare services. Assisted living residents would otherwise require some degree of home-based caregiving services, and they would likely be isolated within their houses.
The assisted living community also provides residents with several non-care services. Examples include housekeeping, laundry, and transportation to errands and doctors’ appointments. Family members are often relieved that their loved one is receiving the care they need.
Assisted living community residents enjoy many physically and mentally stimulating activities. Whether held onsite or within the surrounding community, activities offer residents plenty of opportunities to broaden their horizons.
During each activity, senior living community residents frequently engage with their neighbors and friends. These interactions set the stage for meaningful relationships that can last for years. Residents of continuing care retirement communities often share similar experiences.
Many assisted living activities involve some type of physical movement. With indoor and outdoor exercise options available, residents are encouraged to move their bodies daily.
When older adults engage in regular exercise, they receive numerous proven benefits. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that dedicated older exercisers often develop improved muscle strength, and over time they build more stamina.
Consistent exercise also helps to build healthier bones and joints. With a stronger body structure, seniors lessen their risk of falls and possible fractures. These older adults may also experience decreased arthritis-related pain and joint swelling.
Seniors who remain physically active are less likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes, and colon cancer. And, exercise reduces older adults’ risk of dying from coronary heart disease-linked problems.
Finally, physically active older adults may notice reduced anxiety and depression symptoms. At the same time, they experience more feelings of well-being, a generally sunnier mood, and a higher quality of life.
Consistently exercising the mind also brings several recognized benefits. First, regular mental stimulation plays a key role in maintaining cognitive abilities, such as solving a puzzle or analyzing a problem. Plus, mastering a new skill, delving into a hobby, or learning the basics of a foreign language often creates a real sense of accomplishment.
Staying mentally active also enables older adults to maintain valuable emotional connections to their families, friends, and neighbors. When someone is actively engaged with the world around them, they’re more likely to cultivate relationships with others. Collectively, all of these benefits help seniors to maintain better overall health for a longer period of time.
Residents in the community’s memory care and Alzheimer’s wing can also benefit from some types of mental stimulation. Trained therapists understand each resident’s needs, and apply carefully chosen techniques to encourage positive responses.
A vibrant assisted living community offers a veritable feast of senior living activities. In fact, numerous indoor and outdoor activities beckon residents on any given day. These activities help to enrich each resident’s quality of life.
Assisted living activities include planned and spontaneous excursions that offer enjoyable opportunities to gather with friends and take in the sights.
Visiting entertainers, virtual classes, and special events round out this list of 103 assisted living activities. Taken together, these assisted living activities ideas help to improve residents’ well-being and quality of life.
Assisted living community activity directors are always looking for creative ways to keep residents engaged and encourage mental stimulation. This is especially important when weather conditions aren’t conducive to spending time outside.
Fortunately, every retirement community can implement a variety of small-group activities to suit residents’ capabilities and tastes. Local senior center programs and activities may mirror this approach.
Indoor activities often take place in the senior living facility’s community room or dedicated activity room. Holding activities in one of the dining rooms is another option.
|Backgammon||In this long-lived board game, each player tries to gather their game pieces into the corner first. To win, a player also needs to remove the pieces from the game board.|
|Monopoly||In this ever-popular board game, players navigate the game board while buying and trading properties. Players collect rent from their rivals while trying to amass the biggest fortune.|
|Scrabble||This classic word game requires players to use letter tiles to form crossword-like words. Playing Scrabble may help to expand a player’s vocabulary and word usage.|
|Checkers||This popular game has its roots in ancient Egypt and Greece. In this sometimes fast-moving board game, two players are intent on capturing or blocking each other’s game pieces.|
|Chess||This legendary, strategic board game brings out players’ competitive spirits. It’s also a great way to improve planning and problem-solving skills.|
|Crossword Puzzles||Working on crossword puzzles provides a fun challenge while helping to build vocabulary. Many crossword puzzles follow a theme, enabling the user to broaden their knowledge of a specific concept or event.|
|Sudoku||In this challenging one-person game, a player fills rows, columns, and squares with numbers from 1-9. The player cannot repeat any numbers within each defined area.|
|Trivia Games||These individual- or team-based games require players to answer questions on diverse topics. Trivia games test players’ knowledge and recall skills. Getting the most correct answers wins the game.|
|Bridge||The term “bridge” includes three different types of games played in English-speaking countries. Two two-person teams each aspire to win tricks and take command of the game.|
|Cribbage||This card game involves 2-4 players. Each player tries to play cards that total exactly 15 or 31.|
|Poker||In poker, players bet against each other based on their poker hand’s value. This gambling game requires a combination of skill and luck.|
|Genealogy||Tracing one’s ancestors and bloodlines is a fascinating undertaking that will reveal some surprises. By carefully connecting the dots, the online researcher may unearth relationships to well-known local or national figures.|
|Local History||Learning about an area’s local history is an enjoyable way to discover the flavor of a city or town. Through diligent research, it’s possible to unearth stories about notable people or events who helped to put the region on the map.|
|Other Courses||Colleges and universities frequently offer non-credit continuing education courses on numerous subjects. These general-interest classes take place over one or more weeks and are likely available online.|
|Cajun Cuisine||This hearty cooking style came from the Acadians in rural Louisiana. Cajun meals typically contain lots of seafood and liberal amounts of spices.|
|French Cuisine||Renowned for its rich, complex meals, French cuisine has evolved into easier-to-prepare versions of classic dishes. Local ingredients are a staple of French food.|
|Indian Cuisine||Indian cuisine is a collection of regional and traditional foods. Spices and curries add a new dimension to proteins and vegetables.|
|Italian Cuisine||Italy’s regions have their respective specialties, but pasta plays a key role in all Italian menus. Fresh vegetables are also an important part of many Italian meals.|
|Japanese Cuisine||Traditional Japanese meals are nutritionally complete and low in fat. Sushi, tempura, and soba noodles are popular Japanese meal components.|
|Mediterranean Cuisine||Many Mediterranean meals contain a bounty of fresh vegetables, with meat almost as an afterthought. Instead, a typical Mediterranean diet incorporates lots of fresh seafood.|
|Mexican Cuisine||Mexican cuisine varies by region, with meat dishes commanding attention throughout the country. Beans, corn, and chili peppers are longstanding Mexican menu staples.|
|Southern Cuisine||Traditional Southern meals are hearty, and the portions are generous. Local field-grown vegetables, delectable desserts, and sweet tea are Southern staples.|
|Thai Cuisine||Thai foods are aromatic and spicy, with mouthwatering flavors that leave quite a kick. Rice is also an important meal component, with every meal containing some form of this popular starch.|
|Collage||This no-rules art form can incorporate diverse materials, such as photographs, cloth, paper, and magazine pictures. The artist carefully glues the materials to a flat surface, creating a striking picture.|
|Cross-Stitch||This counted thread embroidery form is easy to learn, and thousands of patterns are available. Using hoops and frames to provide structure, the cross-stitcher follows instructions to create a finished piece.|
|Drawing||Drawing is a versatile art form in which the artist creates pictures with pens, pencils, or other media. There’s virtually no limit to drawing subjects or interpretations.|
|Flower Arranging||Colorful faux flowers lend themselves to many creative designs. The finished arrangements add stylish accents to residents’ living spaces.|
|Jewelry Making||Handcrafted brooches, necklaces, and bracelets enable residents to personalize their jewelry accessories. Budget guidelines dictate the materials, but the creative process follows similar guidelines.|
|Knitting and Crocheting||Once learned, these timeless crafts make an ideal background activity. Scarves, hats, and other personal and home accessories are great for residents’ grandkids (or great-grandkids).|
|Origami||This Japanese paper-folding art transforms a single square of paper into an intricate sculpture. Although origami animals are very popular, themed origami books contain many other designs.|
|Pottery||Learning to shape, decorate, and fire a clay pot brings a sense of accomplishment. Once familiar with the basic techniques, senior living residents can experiment with other designs.|
|Pressed Flower Art||Colorful pressed flowers preserve each bloom’s beauty. Pressed flowers can then be turned into striking cards or framed for hanging. Several pressing methods are available, and no special-purpose tools are needed.|
|Watercolors||Watercolor paintings are simple to execute and will provide splashes of color to any décor. Whether created from a photograph or natural landscape, the finished piece will carry the artist’s touch.|
|Wind Chimes||Handcrafted wind chimes provide a striking outdoor accent piece. Using various materials, the senior living resident can create a colorful hanging sculpture that tinkles in a steady breeze.|
|Woodturning||With a woodturning lathe, a resident can transform an ordinary block of wood into a piece of art. As they learn new techniques, they can create more complex projects.|
|Woodworking||Woodworking takes many forms, and it can involve both power and hand tools. Whether the finished product is large or small, simple or intricate, it reflects the woodworker’s personality.|
|Ballroom Dance||This collection of well-choreographed partner dances offers lots of drama and showmanship. Even without the flashy costumes, ballroom dancing provides enjoyable exercise, and it’s as entertaining to watch as it is to perform.|
|Line Dance||In this easy-to-learn dance form, dancers form rows and perform simple, repetitive movements to music. Line dancers never come into physical contact, but instead face each other or are oriented in the same direction.|
|Square Dance||In this classic four-couple dance, dancers make up a square on the dance floor. Following a dance caller’s instructions, dancers make simple or complex moves to complete each group of dances.|
|Book Club||A lively book club provides its members with opportunities to discuss a recently read book of interest. Clubs often rotate genres and authors, giving members exposure to various literary offerings.|
|Other Discussion Groups||Two or more people can start a discussion group on virtually any subject. Lively sharing of ideas often helps participants to broaden their horizons.|
|Children’s Choirs||An uplifting children’s choir concert is enough to brighten any day. Whether held indoors or outdoors, the young singers’ dedication and talent are always appreciated.|
|Choral Groups||College or community choral groups enjoy giving concerts at assisted living facilities. With creative arrangements and singers’ impressive voices, these concerts provide great listening experiences.|
|Karaoke||Karaoke sessions can be standalone events or part of another scheduled get-together. Sometimes, participants with surprisingly good voices put on engaging performances.|
|Movie Nights||Watching classic movies or family favorites is a fun way to spend an evening. Popcorn and other tasty refreshments add an authentic touch to the experience.|
|Musicians and Musical Groups||Up-and-coming musicians and musical groups take every opportunity to gain exposure. These talented people often deliver performances worthy of national acclaim to senior living residents.|
|Singing Competitions||“American Idol” and “The Voice” fans will enjoy residents’ lively singing competitions. There may even be a surprising hidden talent (or two) in the community.|
|Stand-Up Comedians||Stand-up comedians are always looking for venues in which to fine-tune their routines. They always appreciate a responsive and enthusiastic audience.|
|Theater Companies||A local theater company may welcome the opportunity to deliver an onsite performance. These surprisingly accomplished thespians pull out all the stops to bring their characters to life.|
|Art Exhibitions||A well-planned art exhibition can showcase an individual artist’s works or a collection of artists’ pieces around a theme or style. Viewing original artwork often provides senior living residents with a window into an artist’s creative process.|
|Fashion Shows||An in-house fashion show can showcase residents’ favorite retro fashions (with resident models, of course). Or, a benefit event might spotlight current fashions from a trendy new clothing shop.|
|Themed Parties||Themed parties can celebrate an era, a fashion style, an event, or an out-of-the-box idea. Getting all the details right creates a truly authentic occasion.|
|Low-Impact Aerobics||This carefully designed class provides lots of cardio and muscle conditioning. However, low-impact aerobics doesn’t contain any jumps or leaps that could potentially lead to injuries.|
|Tai Chi||This ancient Chinese art involves smooth, flowing movements and beneficial exercise. If practiced regularly, tai chi helps to enhance mind and body health.|
|Yoga||This integrated form of exercise incorporates physical poses, breathing techniques, and relaxation or meditation. Participants are encouraged to proceed at their own pace.|
|Zumba||This Latin dance fitness workout combines infectious music and choreographed moves. Zumba provides cardio benefits while helping to improve each participant’s coordination and balance.|
|Adoptable Animals||Adoption agencies may put on adoption events for assisted living residents. Residents shower shelter animals with lots of attention, and they may even adopt one. The animals return the favor, delivering unconditional love and acceptance that can boost residents’ spirits.|
|Therapy Animals||Spending time with a mellow therapy animal is a very special experience. These calm, friendly dogs (and perhaps some cats) seem to know how to brighten someone’s day, and they’ll soak up every bit of love and affection they can get.|
|TED Talks||Viewing a TED Talk is an ideal way to gain perspective on a subject or get insights from an expert. Each talk is no longer than 18 minutes, and some talks might be even shorter.|
|Virtual Lectures||Many colleges and universities offer free virtual lectures on diverse subjects. Recognized experts also make their online lectures available, often without a charge.|
|Acoustic Guitar Classes||Learning to play an acoustic guitar isn’t complicated. The player can easily build on basic skills and begin playing songs almost from the start.|
|Ukulele Classes||This quirky little instrument’s small size makes it easy to manage, and it’s easy to learn to play. With regular practice, students can provide a few tunes for community get-togethers.|
|Nintendo Wii Fit||These innovative fitness video games use a pressure-sensitive balance board and a “Wiimote” that drives players’ actions. Participants can choose from Wii Fit baseball, bowling, golf, or tennis.|
|Computer Classes||Computer class instruction includes everything from basic operations to coding and special-purpose programs. Online course sessions are generally self-paced for students’ convenience.|
|Digital Photography Classes||Learning to operate a digital camera opens the door to the fascinating world of photography. With just basic knowledge, senior living residents can capture memorable images.|
|Foreign Language Classes||Studying Spanish, French, German, or another language provides a window into another culture. Learning a second language also provides good mental stimulation.|
|Special-Interest Webinars||These video-based workshops can showcase a craft or demonstrate a product or technique. A well-planned webinar can also bring worldwide community members together in an online forum.|
|Writing Workshops||Delving into a writing style, or learning how to engage a reader through carefully chosen words, is a great form of self-discovery. It’s also a good way to exercise the imagination.|
Spending time in the fresh air and sunshine may encourage older adults to engage in beneficial physical activity. Often, senior living residents participate in exercise classes or stroll the community’s walking paths.
Maybe residents tend to their container gardens or get together for a birdwatching session. Collectively, seniors in assisted living facilities have plenty of opportunities to savor the great outdoors.
|Birdwatching||Birdwatching offers a chance to view many colorful feathered friends in their natural habitats. Binoculars are the only recommended equipment, and walking to different birdwatching areas provides beneficial exercise.|
|Corn Hole||Also called bean bag toss, this lawn game is a hit with players of all ages. It requires only 2-4 players and a corn hole set.|
|Croquet||This classic lawn game still has many enthusiastic fans. It’s easy (and fun) to play on a reasonably spacious lawn.|
|Gardening (container)||Container gardening is ideal for a small space, such as a balcony or patio. With sunshine and a little care, it’s possible to grow healthy veggies or colorful flowers.|
|Gardening (plot)||Digging in the dirt is immensely rewarding, and planting a vegetable or flower garden generally yields measurable results. Choosing hardy regional plants, matching the soil, and optimal growing conditions are the keys to success.|
|Geocaching||In this tech-friendly treasure-hunting game, players use a GPS-enabled device to navigate to a specific location. Once there, they try to find a geocache—a small container hidden at that spot.|
|Golf (putting green)||Navigating a deceptively simple putting green can present quite a challenge. The green’s design, slope, and the strength of the wind affect the final outcome. Plus, putting on a green helps to fine-tune the golfer’s skills.|
|Horseshoes||This iconic lawn game only requires 2-4 people and 4 horseshoes. The competition is a good way to build balance, strength, and coordination.|
|Swimming||This beneficial all-around exercise builds strength and muscle while having no impact on bones and joints. Whether swimming laps or treading water, the resident swimmer enjoys a body-friendly workout.|
|Walking||Walking is one of the best exercises around. Done consistently, it’s a good weight-bearing workout that provides cardio and muscle-building benefits.|
|Water Aerobics||A water aerobics class provides a surprisingly beneficial workout. Held in the onsite pool, this fun-filled session uses water’s cushioning ability to minimize injury risks.|
Retirement community activity professionals are always searching for desirable outing destinations. Assisted living facility residents look forward to these preplanned field trips to local attractions and special events. The facility’s multi-passenger van or bus typically transports residents to and from the venues, leaving them free to enjoy the scenery and the experience.
|Botanical Garden Tours||Touring a botanical garden is a feast for the senses. Carefully cultivated plants and fragrant, colorful flowers can promote an appreciation for nature.|
|Concerts||A live concert offers a chance to hear a popular performer or group at a local venue. Many performers enjoy playing to live audiences, and there’s often an electric energy that’s missing from taped or televised events.|
|Craft Shows||A delightfully diverse craft show can include numerous craft styles and vendors. Other craft shows feature juried artisans or focus on a central theme, such as holiday season crafts.|
|Day Trips||Day trips offer an opportunity for assisted living facility residents to explore a bit farther afield. Whether traveling to a new destination or returning to a favorite spot, the journey is part of the fun.|
|Farmer’s Markets||Farmer’s markets offer local produce, meats, jams and jellies, flowers, handcrafted products, and more. Communities appreciate the organic connection, and the markets provide a valuable outlet for local farmers’ products.|
|Flea Markets||Visiting a weekend flea market is an experience not to be missed. Vendors sell diverse merchandise that can include old tools, antiques, kitschy collectibles, secondhand household items, and everything in between.|
|Golf (course play)||Playing a round with friends is an enjoyable way to spend a morning or afternoon. Golfing also provides beneficial exercise, and it can build muscle strength and coordination.|
|Movie Viewings||Taking in a first-run movie carries an air of excitement and anticipation. Matinee prices are generally lower than evening screenings, and residents should have plenty of seating options.|
|Museum Visits||Visiting a museum is like obtaining an intriguing window into the past. Whether it’s a quirky museum about a specific subject or event, or if it’s an acclaimed world-class venue, the artifacts and displays truly bring history to life.|
|Nature Trail Walks||Walking a local nature trail is a great way to view native plants, flowers, and animal habitats. Some trails provide details about local flora and fauna, while others simply offer a way to reconnect with the natural world.|
|Picnicking||Savoring a picnic lunch at a scenic spot is a timeless activity that everyone can enjoy. Chilling the cold foods with ice and bringing tasty finger foods and snacks are smart picnicking practices.|
|Shopping Excursions||Shopping trip destinations can run the gamut from dollar stores to upscale specialty shops. Regardless of the venue or products, browsing the latest offerings is a pleasurable way to spend the day.|
|Sporting Events||Attending local sporting events offers a chance to cheer for the home team. Collegiate, semi-pro, or professional sports teams always welcome enthusiastic fans.|
|Strolls in the Park||Walking through a lush, green park provides energizing exercise while also promoting a sense of well-being. Taking in the trees, bushes, and perhaps flowers enhances the experience.|
|Theater Performances||Attending a professional theater performance is an energizing experience. The expertly designed sets and accomplished actors make for a memorable afternoon or evening.|
|Trips to the Beach||A beach excursion offers an opportunity to soak up the salt air and sunshine. Whether on the Atlantic, Gulf, or Pacific Coast, a trip to the beach is both relaxing and energizing.|
|Volunteer Work||Volunteering for a worthwhile cause is a “win-win” for both parties. A local non-profit group enjoys help from a dedicated volunteer, and the resident often enjoys a very rewarding experience.|
Long-term care facilities across the country have been impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Senior care community leaders continue to focus on keeping residents safe and coronavirus-free.
At the same time, managers also recognize that residents need enriching experiences that keep them connected to their families and surrounding neighborhoods. Fortunately, Spectrum Retirement Communities leaders rose to the challenge.
Across the country, Spectrum’s staff members designed an inviting menu of home activities. Each fun activity has been a big hit with Spectrum communities’ residents across the country and should be adaptable to assisted living communities of any size.
|Balcony/Patio Concerts||Here, a musician or musical group plays a concert from a centrally located ground venue. Residents enjoy the music from their balconies and patios.|
|Rolling Community Concerts||For these indoor concerts, facility maintenance workers roll a full-size piano through the hallways. A musician plays lively songs at various spots, providing residents with a portable concert.|
|Traveling Happy Hours||In these popular indoor events, a staff member delivers tasty, non-alcoholic Happy Hour drinks to residents. The event also provides a good way to maintain contact with socially distanced residents.|
|Brain-Building Goodies||Because lockdown protocols discourage mentally stimulating get-togethers, activity directors provide each resident with a weekly packet of brain-building ideas. Contents include word puzzles, art projects, home-based activity ideas, and a variety of uplifting quotes.|
|Community Vehicle Parades||Nationwide, community vehicle parades have become a popular way for families to visit with senior citizens in assisted living communities. Residents line the lawn and sidewalk while family members in decorated vehicles parade along the route.|
|Creative Holiday Celebrations||What began as a socially distanced Mother’s Day celebration, became adaptable to any holiday. While residents enjoy colorful holiday displays in common areas, families provide vocal encouragement from the parking lot.|
|Socially Distanced Outdoor Exercise||Residents accustomed to exercising with their friends can still enjoy a good workout. While following social distancing protocols, residents might practice Tai Chi or get a good walking workout.|
With assisted living residents’ creativity and adventurous spirit, they are likely to come up with another great activity idea (or two)! Residents can harness their imaginations, and bring their ideas to frequent brainstorming sessions.
Taking it a step further, residents can share those ideas with assisted living facility leaders and activity professionals. If funds and staffing are available, the residents may even play a role in moving the activities forward.
A vibrant senior living community features a wide selection of activities that appeal to senior citizens’ diverse tastes. By exercising their bodies and challenging their minds, assisted living residents can enjoy an enriching quality of life.
Maybe you think your parents are good candidates for an assisted living facility. They’d appreciate some help with their activities of daily living (ADLs), and you know they’d enjoy the resident activities. Before you move forward, though, you’ll need to determine how your parents will pay for their assisted living services.
First, you may wonder if Medicare pays for assisted living expenses. Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover any type of residential or custodial care costs, including assisted living expenses. As a result, Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, and Medicare Part C are off-limits as potential resources.
However, Medicare will cover a resident’s healthcare services, as stated in their Medicare Beneficiary Agreement. A participating Medicare health professional must perform this “medically necessary” service.
Investigate several other potential sources of funds. Personal financial resources, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Medicaid Program funds may be viable options. Tapping into Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits, long-term care insurance, certain life insurance benefits, and a reverse mortgage may also be feasible.
After you secure the assisted living funds, get the ball rolling with an assisted living moving process checklist. You’ll have a million details to remember, and the checklist will help you to complete the necessary steps in order.
Next, realize your parents can’t take all their possessions with them. With a helpful home downsizing checklist, they can choose the furniture, appliances, and personal items that they need or want in their new home.
Selling the remaining items via a professionally organized estate sale will generate funds for assisted living expenses. Once the estate sale company empties the house, it can be listed for sale, after which more funds will be available.
Maybe you’ve already talked to your elderly parents about moving to an assisted living community. You know that assisted living is the best choice for your parents’ well-being. However, you got a rather hostile reception, and you’re frustrated and discouraged.
If you’re at a loss about the next step to take, view these eight suggestions. They may help to lessen the hostility and create a productive environment that leads to your loved ones getting the care they need and the quality of life they deserve.