Depending on where your elderly loved one is living - a care home, in their own home or with you - some activities may be more accessible, appropriate and feasible than others, but we hope these ideas will help to fill some gaps and keep those little grey cells stimulated.
Even if it's not initially within their comfort zone, a little patient guidance can enable many reticent elderly relatives to get online socially via zoom or similar apps. Once this is achieved, it's possible to play virtual games, such as charades or quizzes and also can allow for interaction with grandchildren - with many now helping out with virtual childcare taking history, music or English lessons and listening to children read.
Once they can access online, there's also a world of incredible adult resources that have been made available to help get through this challenging time from Music Concerts, Plays and Virtual Museum Tours to books and zoo tours - the fact they're mostly free is an added bonus!
- See Shakespeare on demand at The Globe with these free-to-view performances.
- Check out the weekly play from The National Theatre's productions.
- The English National Ballet - are showing a weekly performance hosted on YouTube.
- The Shows Must Go On - a weekly dose of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical available for free for 24hrs only on YouTube.
- Ok this one's not free but if you're a musicals fan then the fabulous lesmis.com/concert can be downloaded for £9.99 and proceeds go towards the theatre community and The NHS.
- Pretend to travel the world. Go on a virtual tour of these 12 famous museums.
- Take a self-guided tour and see the wonders of the unique Yosemite National Park.
- Edinburgh Zoo live cam.
- Audio books are now readily available and ideal for those struggling with sight-loss. Audible is even offering a free 30 day trial period!
- Or what about a Virtual Pub Quiz - with funds also going to The NHS - it's raised nearly £20,000 already and is held every Thursday night after the 8pm Clap for The NHS and Key Workers.
Practical Off-line Activities
- Knitting & Needlework - Knitting, crochet, patchwork, tapestry and embroidery are all great old school activities that provide hours of fun and mindful creativity.
- Arts and Crafts - From sketching and painting to collage and pom-pom making, there are activities for every level. Painting by numbers and adult colouring books provide great entry level activities to spend some time mindfully drawing.
- Word Puzzles - Whether it's crosswords, quizzes or word searches in a book, a verbal connections game or one of the many online options, if words are your thing, then these options provide plenty of collective head-scratching moments and hours of entertainment. Free online games are also available - check out these portals: Arkadium, Wordgames or Brain Games
- Bingo - This is a classic that works for large and small groups, if your elderly relative is living at home with you, don't feel you need to stick to calling out numbers, you can make up your own variations with family catchphrases, sightseeing icons or holiday activities.
- Sudoku and Logic Puzzles - These are brilliantly addictive and there are different levels with many books available as well as online resources such as Puzzlebaron or Brainzilla
- Jigsaw Puzzles - Reverting to childhood activities can be fun, and many elderly people will enjoy the relaxing and meditative elements of puzzles. It's a good solo activity as well as multi-player (if practical) which provides the ability to share tactics - do you start by completing objects in the picture or go for corners first to create an outer rim?
- Chess - This iconic game is ideal for those at home in a duo and also good for virtual play - if both players have a chess board it can provide hours of concentrated fun as well as an opportunity for elders to share knowledge and clever strategies to younger generations. With no need to move, it's a great game for those with mobility issues.
- Serving Tray & Shopping List Games - The serving tray game is classic and another good activity for those living at home together or it can even provide an opportunity for virtual play if both attendees have their own trays.
- Cards and Card-Matching Games - For those in isolation Solitaire is an irresistible classic, while for others who may be within a smaller household Pontoon, Bridge and even Poker can prove to be great fun.
- Learn a New Language or Instrument - If your loved ones want to be really challenged, they could try to learn a new language or instrument. There are many online courses as well as Teach-Yourself books that can help them on their way. You could even learn the same thing and compare progress.