Many people have heard the messages that engaged minds and muscles help us stay healthy as we age. Some people talk about things that interfere with being active. Your mother worries about safety, indoors and out. Your father says he can’t afford the expense of a gym membership. You listen and reflect on how good it can feel to take a walk.
This article shares simple activities that are safe, enjoyable, and easy on a limited budget. You will likely think of others!
Song and Dance
Each generation has favorite songs and music. Musical memories can be used to plan activities with your parent. Clapping hands, tapping toes, and sing-a-longs get arms, legs, and lungs moving. Happy memories are emotionally uplifting, and some songs add the gift of laughter!
Song and dance ideas include:
- Having short dance sessions, using safe, simple steps from years gone by.
- Using old instruments or those that are homemade.
- Playing with kids’ instruments—they are fun and easy to handle!
Weather and Bird Watching
Over the years have your mom and dad watched the weather, or enjoyed the seasonal comings and goings of birds? Interests like these may linger and encourage activity. Regardless of where your parent lives, there’s the chance to observe the weather and what’s happening outside. Watching the world outdoors increases your mom or dad’s physical and mental activity as they:
- Get up and move to stand or sit by the window, or go outside.
- Gather their weather and bird watching gear.
- Can converse or write about what they’ve seen, and perhaps go online with you or a home caregiver to identify birds or track the weather.
More Than the 7th Inning Stretch
Sports fans know about the 7th Inning Stretch! Getting up and moving clears mental cobwebs and awakens numb legs. This idea is as fun at home as at the ballpark, even for those who don’t follow sports! It can be done seated or standing, indoors or out, by:
- Reaching in any direction, comfortably stretching arms, hands and shoulders.
- Slowly leaning forward, backward, and side-to-side to shift weight.
- Lifting one leg at a time, walking in place to awaken feet and calves.
- Gently moving your head, looking around and giving your neck some welcome attention!
- Trying Tai Chi, a gentle activity for those who are able and interested.
Plant and Putter
Some seniors like to plant, others like to putter, and some like both! You know your dad or mom’s interests and can use these to encourage activity. Although outdoor gardening is seasonal, there are ways to reap the benefits of indoor growing too! Will your mom or dad enjoy any of these ideas?
- An herb garden.
- A hanging tomato plant.
- A miniature garden in a terrarium.
- A raised garden or one planted in elevated pots.
- Preparing the plants involves puttering and imagination! Anyone can help out—you, a friend, or a caregiver. And everyone benefits from the activity and watching the garden grow!
Moving Throughout the Day
Moving throughout the day is good for all age groups. Doing so for five minutes of every hour adds up over the course of a day! This is a chance to take some nice deep breaths, clearing your mind as you do. A simple reminder is often all it takes to get up and move. Your family’s home care professionals are there to offer the reminder and support your mom and dad’s activities.