Hobbies for seniors do a lot more than simply keep them occupied. Staying active physically, mentally and socially goes a long way toward helping them live a healthier and even longer life. If your loved one isn’t interested in some of the more common activities for older adults (like gardening, knitting, or walking/hiking), here are some more unusual hobbies that might pique their interest.
Take a cue from the many senior living communities that offer residents creative outlets like these:
- Music is an incredibly adaptable hobby, even for seniors with arthritis or limited mobility or vision. From exploring and appreciating new forms of music through recordings and concerts, to singing or learning to play a new instrument, enjoying and playing music benefits the brain and emotional well-being.
- Performing can help improve memory and attention span and can also be an emotional outlet. Acting, dancing and singing are fun ways to stay social, as well. Community theater, performance and play reading groups at your house of worship or local senior center, and dancing lessons are options worth exploring.
- Whether it’s poetry, romance, nonfiction, memoirs or daily journaling, writing is a good way to reduce stress, explore new ideas and express their personality. Writing groups and workshops offer ways to stay connected to others while improving their skills.
Become a Citizen Scientist
There are a lot of organizations looking for outside help in observing and analyzing the world — and the universe. With access to a computer and some patience, being a citizen scientist can be a fascinating hobby for seniors at home or a community.
- The Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Catalog lists more than 400 projects that need volunteer help. You can find area-specific needs like water level observation or air quality monitoring, as well as global requests for analyzing images of kelp forests or trapping backyard beetles.
- If your loved one likes birds, there are quite a few bird and nest observation projects listed on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website. To help with identifying birds, here are reviews of five popular birding apps.
- Zooniverse also has dozens of interesting projects in categories like climate, history, language, medicine, art, medicine and social science.
Learn a Foreign Language
The brain stays sharper when it’s challenged. Talk with your loved one about countries and cultures that interest them. Perhaps they’d be interested in learning the language some of their ancestors spoke or some phrases that will make foreign travel easier.
There are a number of products for learning a new language, all with varying price points.
- Rosetta Stone has books and software available for purchase. Some local libraries offer free access to online courses through their library portals, and there’s a free app for travelers.
- Babbel is an app with short, interactive lessons that range from business to travel vocabulary. Babbel lets you learn on a desktop, smartphone or tablet. Available at the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
- Here are reviews of five other language learning apps — and they’re free.
Explore Family History
Genealogy is a popular hobby for people of all ages, and it doesn’t require much physical activity. Learning not just the names of family ancestors but also their stories and connections to history can lead to some wonderful discussions with family members of all ages.
- Ancestry.com is a popular subscription-based site that has a robust database of historical resources. You can add your family tree, along with photos and stories, and even find connections with relatives you might not know about.
- FamilySearch.org is a free site that lets you search historical records and other members’ family trees to find your connections.
- There are also family tree workbooks that let you record genealogy findings by hand.
If your loved one doesn’t already have a hobby they love, encourage them to try some of these unique ideas. If they seem reluctant to start, you can see if a local senior living community has a planned activity like a creative performance or genealogy workshop that you can attend together. It just might be the thing that sparks a new interest — and an interesting new hobby.
Where You Live Matters is powered by the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), a respected voice in the senior housing industry. ASHA primarily focuses on legislative and regulatory advocacy, research, and educational opportunities and networking for senior living executives, so they can better understand the needs of older adults across the country.