Activities for Older People in Nursing Homes

Updated April 17, 2017

Senior citizens in nursing homes can stay physically and mentally alert by taking part in a variety of activities. These activities help them stay social and maintain a higher quality of life. Encourage the elderly to use this stage of their lives to explore new interests or expand on a skill they always wanted to develop.


Explore painting. Experienced painters have the time to devote to a former passion. New painters begin with a simpler technique, such as folk art painting, an easy style to learn that involves only simple brush strokes. Arthritis pain that occurs with a standard brush stroke can be relieved by using a patting or "splotching" technique, moving the brush up and down vertically. With practice, painters can create embellishments for birdhouses, jewellery boxes, tabletops and other household objects, as well as beautiful paintings.


Hold a garden party regularly, providing spades, gloves, other tools and plants for individuals physically able to participate. Provide comfortable outdoor seating and refreshments for those unable to garden. Seniors connect with nature by simply relaxing in a garden. Residents are refreshed and invigorated by spending time outdoors.


A regular routine of gentle yoga poses can help an older person stay fit and feel better, physically, mentally and emotionally. Older individuals can do easier yoga poses, or modified forms of more difficult poses, under the guidance of a qualified instructor. Yoga routines are easily adaptable for any level of ability. Each person's abilities is different, so the instructor must examine their needs carefully.


Writing a memoir or short story is an excellent activity for an older individual who still has a strong memory. Use a voice recorder or a computer that transcribes voice automatically if writing is troublesome. Loved ones cherish this gift and the new understanding it gives them about their family member.


Music has a wonderful ability to lift the human spirit, making it a great activity for a nursing home. Pianos are found in most nursing homes. Search for a discounted or donated piano for residents to use if there is not one available. Add a second-hand keyboard, hand drums and easy-to-play instruments such as maracas and tambourines. Guided practice, in which residents learn to play songs together, encourages comfort and appreciation---and fun---in music making.


Ask staff members if they have talents in these areas or others that they can share with residents. If not, contact a local university to request student volunteers, or ask around in the community. Chances are, someone is willing to give their time and energy to assist in improving the quality of life for seniors. Keep an open mind about the residents enjoy. Ask them which activities they prefer.

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About the Author

Melanie J. Martin specializes in environmental issues and sustainable living. Her work has appeared in venues such as the Environmental News Network, "Ocean" magazine and "GREEN Retailer." Martin holds a Master of Arts in English.