Keeping Homebound Seniors Active
Connecting Communities | May 2020
For some seniors and caregivers, figuring out ways to stay engaged while homebound can be a challenge, but the benefits of staying active are almost innumerable.
“Doing activities and completing tasks at home are great reminders that you are capable and important”, explains Marillac St. Vincent's Senior Services Program Manager, Hilary Waldron, LCSW. Seniors are a vital part of our community and making sure that older folks feel empowered, especially while homebound, is essential.
Here are a few ideas for keeping seniors engaged, compiled with help from our experts at Marillac St. Vincent
Painting is an effective way to express one’s emotions and foster creative growth, even for those of us who do not self-identify as creative.
“We know that doing art helps use our creativity and can provide a sense of accomplishment for someone,” explains Waldron. “Especially right now - creating something to brighten your space can be a good thing.”
Once you and your senior have decided to pursue painting, the next step is putting brush to paper. The internet is full of amazing painting project ideas and there are plenty of tutorials on Youtube.com. To help get creative juices flowing, check out this video titled “4 Easy Art Projects to Help You Relax & De-Stress”
Knitting is another accesible way to relieve stress as its repetitive nature can have therapeutic effects. However, the benefits do not stop there. Mental Health America reports that knitting has been shown to “reduce blood pressure, slow the onset of Dementia, distract from chronic pain, increase sense of wellbeing, and reduce Depression and Anxiety”.
Again, Youtube is a great resource for ideas and knitting tutorials. For total beginners, it may be helpful to check out this “Knit Stitch for Beginners” video.
If you find that your senior enjoys knitting and all its positive effects, you may want to think about working with them to share their talents for a greater social good. Volunteering is an empowering way for seniors to feel connected to their community.
MSV programs are always in need of knitted items; Project Hope regularly collects baby blankets and our adult clients are always in need of hats and scarves.
When we think of gardening, we often think of an activity that requires hours on our knees and sitting in the dirt for extended periods of time. This is not sustainable for many homebound seniors, but indoor gardening is a great substitute that requires limited mobility.
If gardening is something you are interested in, consider growing herbs or vegetables with your senior for consumption. This is a great way to cut down on grocery costs and improve diet with fresh produce. Some herbs only take a few weeks to go from seed to plant and all plant needs are met with water, oxygen, and care.
“It is really satisfying to season your food with herbs that you grew.” explains Waldron. “It can be very grounding to put your hands in soil.”
If you’re interested in growing your own herbs, click here for more information.
Gardening is also an effective mindfulness tool, “It’s a good way to take your focus off the scary things like the news right now.” Waldron says. “It’s a way to bring the outside in, in a safe way.”
You are never too old to play games. In fact, there are many games that homebound seniors can participate in from the comfort of their own home. Engaging in game play carries many of the same benefits that the other activities listed include and they come in different shapes and sizes.
For more health benefits of games click here.
One major benefit of playing games is that it creates opportunities for social interaction. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains, “Human beings are social creatures. Our connection to others enables us to survive and thrive. Yet, as we age, many of us are alone more often than when we were younger, leaving us vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness.”
In today’s world, games take many forms. Puzzles, board games, cards, and online games all work to bring people together and decrease feelings of isolation. Even if you don’t play with other folks in your own home, increased access to the internet and popularity of online games has given us the ability to connect with others around the world.
Guideforseniors.com does a great job of providing game ideas for seniors with explanations for how to play and links to activities. Click here to see more.
Our personal favorites are the AARP Games as they offer a large variety and have the option to play in single player or multi-player game modes.
Cooking & Baking
Cooking and baking classes are currently seeing a rise in popularity in residential homes as recent studies show these activities offer a variety of benefits. Cooking and baking not only feed the body, but can feed creativity as a therapeutic outlet for self-expression as well.
In addition to all the health benefits that cooking and baking carry, these activities are simply fun. Waldron explains, “Older generations grew up in an era without pre-prepared foods. Many of them are skilled cooks and bakers and similar to gardening, there’s something special about knowing where your food came from.”
Cooking is just one way that seniors can give back to themselves, “It’s a form of self-care; making it to your taste and your need. It’s a way we can show love to others, but it is also a way we can show love to ourselves.”
As quarantine baking is seeing a rise in popularity, we thought we would include our favorite Zuchinni bread recipe for you to try at home. Click here to check it out!
Marillac St. Vincent Family Services provides a variety of services aimed to empower and improve the quality of life of local seniors. We offer intensive supports to at-risk seniors, community-based case management, food delivery and friendly visiting to mobility-limited seniors, monthly enrichment meetings for able seniors, and nursing home rights education.
For more information, please visit our Support for Seniors page.