People of all ages can benefit from taking up a hobby. A “hobby” is generally defined as an activity one is passionate about – to whatever degree that may be – that is not part of their professional life, nor is it something they make money from.
For seniors living in the retirement phase of life, free time is very easy to come by. Filling up this free time with a new hobby, or resuming a beloved activity from their younger years, has health benefits that are both physical and psychological.
Health Benefits of Hobbies for Seniors
One of the best things a hobby can do for your senior loved one is help improve their self-esteem. Some hobbies, like card games or knitting, can be very social activities. Spending time around others with the same interests can help your loved ones feel more at home and comfortable, especially in new surroundings, like an assisted living community.
Hobbies have many other benefits as well. Active hobbies, like walking, Tai Chi or yoga, help improve one’s movement and flexibility. Being more active during the day also helps seniors sleep better at night.
Here are some of the best hobbies and activities for seniors, and how each will be beneficial.
Gardening is one activity that has been known to reduce stress in many individuals. Committing time to help things grow; seniors can literally see the fruits of their labor come to life. Also, gardening is a good, low-impact way to stay active. It is calming for the mind, but also engages our endurance, strength, and problem-solving skills. In fact, studies have shown that gardening in older adults can help reduce the incidence of dementia.
Reading on a daily basis can significantly help reduce stress. It’s also a great activity for seniors to exercise their minds, helping them to stay sharp. Though reading is a solitary activity, joining a book club where readings can be collaborated and discussed is a great way for seniors to build their social circle.
3. Ballroom Dancing
Dancing is fun – that should be a good enough reason to take up the hobby, right? But the benefits of dancing don’t stop there. It’s excellent for heart health and increases levels of serotonin, boosting seniors’ emotional wellbeing as well. Plus, as a social activity, it’s a great way to interact with others while learning something new. And with so many different types of dances to learn, seniors will find it difficult to stop dancing!
4. Martial Arts
Martial arts require a lot of effort from participants – not just physical strength, but mental attention as well. Practicing a martial art can help improve seniors’ quality of life in a number of ways. It will help improve coordination and stamina, while also teaching lifelong self-defense skills. Plus, focusing on one’s body and mind at the same time is an excellent way for improving brain functioning and emotional well being.
Keeping a journal on a daily or weekly basis is a great way for seniors to express themselves. Writing out your thoughts is one of the most powerful ways to relieve stress; you can identify what’s bothering you and what may be adding stress to your life. It can also help seniors identify things that they want to focus more and things that make them happier.
6. Learn Something New
Just because you’re no longer in school, that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop learning. With so much post-retirement free time, seniors have more opportunity than ever to learn a new skill. This can mean taking language classes to help learn a new language, or signing up for online classes through a local university. Seniors don’t need to seek a full-fledged degree to start feeling fulfilled; learning about something that interests them will be fulfilling enough.
7. Start Crafting
Making something with your hands is a wonderful and effective way to relieve stress and help relieve anxiety, depression, or pain. Knitting is very popular among seniors, thanks to the ability to multitask – once you’re skilled enough, your needling hands need only so much attention. The repetitive motions of knitting simulate something similar to meditation in the brain, making for one particularly calming exercise.
8. Play Chess
Chess is an excellent hobby for improving cognitive functions for people of all ages. It also helps keep our memory sharp, and helps give us an edge for strategic thinking. There are many groups dedicated to providing fun spaces for seniors to play chess, in tournaments or less formal settings. Check with senior centers, assisted living facilities, churches, or other organizations in your area to see if they host a chess club – it could be a fun, new activity for your senior loved one!
There are innumerable benefits to cooking at home. For starters, it can save money – it’s much less expensive to make your own meals than to eat at restaurants. Also, you have more control over the ingredients you put into your food. Studies have shown that people who cook at home are generally healthier than people who mainly go out to eat, and when you do your own food shopping, you put fewer processed ingredients into what you make.
Cooking can also be a great source of stress relief. And, if your senior loved one isn’t confident in their kitchen skills, they may want to consider enrolling in a cooking class. They’ll learn new skills or sharpen their existing ones, while also making some potential new friends!
These are great ideas to consider when engaging your loved ones, aging parents, or seniors. What’s most important is that you help them discover new activities to keep them engaged and busy. With a small commitment of time, you can help introduce your loved one to a new world that is fulfilling, exciting, and most importantly gives them new purpose. If you’re wondering how to find an activity for your senior loved one, this list is a great place to start. Simply think back to what they enjoyed throughout their live and introduce that hobby in a new way. Helping your parents, loved ones, or senior friends discover a new hobby is a rewarding experience for both you and your loved one.