Pass the time with a variety of activities
Entertaining ourselves through engaging our minds and bodies while staying safe at home is now more important than ever.
To keep people of all ages from getting bored, restless, or agitated, we share 9 ways to have fun without going outside.
You’ll find dozens of suggestions for games and puzzles, books, radio shows, and podcasts, music, cooking shows, crafts, documenting life stories, senior-friendly exercise, and free online learning.
1. Have fun with crafts and hobbies
Coloring is an activity that can be adapted for any level. Plus, there are hundreds of free printables available online.
We share some top free printables in this article – Free Coloring Pages for Seniors: Our Top 5 Picks.
This art form is fun and adaptable to any skill level. Learn to fold origami flowers, boxes, airplanes, ninja stars, and other projects in these free tutorials from The Spruce Crafts.
Bringing a bit of nature inside is a fun project. A simple way to try your hand at indoor gardening is to save your veggie scraps and regrow them.
This guide from Rural Sprout shares tips for regrowing 20 types of vegetables and herbs.
It’s fun to watch new leaves sprout and a nice way to ensure that you have some fresh greens and herbs on hand.
2. Play fun games and puzzles
DIY bean bag toss
The bean bag toss game is so simple, yet so entertaining!
Make your own with this quick DIY version that cleverly uses a cardboard box for the targets.
You can use anything that’s small and non-bouncy for the bean bag (so it will stay put after it’s thrown). And if keeping score would make things more exciting, mark the holes with numbers.
Find jigsaw puzzles that are right for your older adult’s cognitive or physical ability level – Activities for Seniors: Jigsaw Puzzles
These large print crossword puzzles are fun and easy on the eyes – Free Large Print Crossword Puzzles for Seniors
Or, buy a book of crosswords so you can choose the level of difficulty or theme – browse these options.
These puzzles that use numbers as placeholders are surprisingly addictive – Free Printable Sudoku Puzzles for Seniors
These nostalgic games haven’t gone out of style:
- Checkers – try this large size soft board with easy-grip pieces and tic-tac-toe on the back or this 3 in 1 game set that includes checkers, chess, and backgammon.
- Bingo – try this larger home bingo set with plastic balls and markers or this smaller set with wooden balls and markers. You could also play right away for free with a free online bingo caller and printing your own bingo cards (choose “one numeric bingo card per page” for the largest size).
- Connect Four – this is a vertical tic-tac-toe game that’s fun for all ages.
- Yahtzee – a fun dice game that keeps the brain sharp. You could also play for free if you have dice at home, print your own score sheets (PDF), and follow the official game rules (PDF).
- Card games – all you need is a deck of cards! Here are instructions for a variety of card games, in order from easiest to most challenging:
3. Listen to or document life stories
Hearing or recording someone’s life stories is a meaningful and rewarding activity to enjoy together.
Ask open-ended questions about their life and simply listen, record the answers with your smartphone, or write down their responses. Or, they could even write some memoirs of their own.
The Legacy Project also shares a huge list of life interview questions to keep the conversation flowing.
4. Listen to books, radio shows, and podcasts
Hearing the newspaper, books, magazines, or even old letters read aloud is an enjoyable pastime for many older adults.
Find things that capture their interest, but aren’t too complex to follow.
Listen to audiobooks
Audiobooks (books on tape) allow your older adult to listen to almost any book they like.
Listen to sports
Sports fans may enjoy listening to re-broadcasted sports games on the radio.
Listen to radio shows
Some older adults may enjoy listening to radio talk shows, spiritual broadcasts, science talks, and other such programs.
Many radio stations even make these programs available online for free.
Listen to podcasts
Explore the world of podcasts with this slideshow of Top 15 podcasts of 2020 from Oprah Magazine.
Podcasts are like radio shows that cover almost any topic you could imagine and are available for free online.
5. Enjoy music
- Play their favorite songs or albums, especially music from their youth. You can even use their favorite songs as a fun way to help them reminisce over fond memories.
- Encourage them to sing along to songs they know (check out an app that makes it easier to sing along).
- Tune the radio to a station that plays the type of music they like.
- Listen with a streaming music service like Spotify, iHeartRadio, or Pandora (free, if you listen to ads).
6. Watch cooking shows
Even if you don’t plan on doing a lot of cooking, there’s something so fun and relaxing about watching someone else cook.
Along with the many cooking shows you’ll find on network and cable TV, we love these excellent free YouTube channels:
- Food Network – top TV chefs like Ina Garten, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, and more.
- Epicurious – amazing videos aimed towards the home chef.
- Bon Appetit – expert chefs and delicious recipes from a leader in the food industry.
- America’s Test Kitchen – highly qualified cooks perform thousands of cooking tests every year to develop the best recipes and cooking techniques.
- Food Wishes – Chef John shares his fun-to-make and easy-to-follow recipes.
- Everyday Food – the Martha Stewart Living food editors share videos with easy recipes and time-saving cooking techniques.
7. Stay active with senior-friendly exercise
Exercise is a great way to help seniors maintain strength and balance as well as stay active and boost mood and the immune system.
Our top senior-friendly exercise routines:
- Chair Yoga for Seniors: Reduce Pain and Improve Health
- 3 Easy Tai Chi Videos for Seniors Prevent Falls, Improve Balance and Strength
- Head to Toe Gentle Seated Chair Exercises for Seniors Improve Range of Motion
- 12 Easy and Gentle Seated Stretching Exercises for Seniors in 4 Minutes
- Seated Tai Chi for Seniors: 3 Simple Routines Improve Flexibility and Well-being
- Easy & Effective 10 Minute Chair Exercises for Seniors
- Home Dementia Exercise Program Increases Abilities and Improves Symptoms
We’ve also got dozens more senior-friendly exercise suggestions here.
Bold online exercise programs
To help seniors during the coronavirus pandemic, Bold is offering all new members a free 30 day upgrade to try the Premium Membership (no credit card required). Click the red banner at the top of their homepage to learn more and sign up.
Bold is an online exercise program for seniors, customized for age, strength and fitness abilities. Take a quick quiz and get a tailored exercise program to improve balance, strength, or flexibility. (We aren’t sponsored by or affiliated with Bold.)
8. Learn something fun and interesting
For those who love to learn, there are many free, high-quality courses available online.
Our top picks:
- Resilience Skills in a Time of Uncertainty – from University of Pennsylvania on Coursera
- The Science of Well-Being – from Yale University on Coursera, popularly known as the “Yale Happiness Course”
- A wide range of courses in culture from Harvard University
- Explore a large selection of courses from Khan Academy – it’s all free, just create an account
- Watch Bob Ross’ soothing painting lessons free on Twitch
- Learn from MasterClass instructors in free “live” sessions available to watch anytime on YouTube – including former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss, famed makeup artist Bobbi Brown, and expert baker Dominique Ansel
9. Try relaxation techniques
The recent (and major) changes in lifestyle are stressful for everyone.
Try these free techniques to relax body and mind:
- Do Nothing for 2 Minutes – just listen to the relaxing waves
- 3 brief meditations – scroll down to see 3 meditation options (3 and 10 minutes)
- Mindful breathing meditation – a 5 minute video that helps you relax by focusing on your breathing
Recommended for you:
- Coronavirus Virtual Experiences at Home: Animals, Music, Art, World Travel, Museums, Theme Parks
- 8 Shelter-in-Place Coronavirus Tips for Senior Care in Your Home
- Coronavirus Senior Care: Top Caregiver Questions Answered
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain affiliate links. We never link to products or services for the sole purpose of making a commission. Recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.