Best Activities for Seniors to Stay Healthy
When it comes to healthy aging, we know diet and exercise are the tried and true formula for keeping our bodies in tip-top shape. While we tend to slow down over time, it’s still possible to live active, healthy lives, just at a different pace.
Aegis Living’s Life Enrichment program is dedicated to keeping our seniors lively, both physically and mentally, to experience better health and joy. These activities are easy to do for many people, no matter what ability.
Here are the best activities for keeping seniors healthy.
- Art and Music
Art and music therapies are amazing treatments that produce positive results, especially for those living with dementia. Through art and music, people can express themselves in ways they no longer can verbally. Both visual art and music can improve communication by triggering memories and inspiring conversations those with dementia can struggle with normally. Music therapy also encourages movement in seniors, either by dancing along to the music or participating with a tambourine or drum. If you are caring for a loved one at home, sharing stories about favorite songs can easily be accompanied by on-demand apps like Spotify or Pandora. For the visual artist, sip & paint style step-by-step art and watercolor are great options.
Gardening is a sensory experience that uses scent, texture, color, and sound to stimulate the senses. Seniors are encouraged to work together to care for a garden, helping to combat isolation, and promote socialization. Plus, planting, pruning, weeding, and watering also provides some physical activity. Some of our communities have grown herbs, veggies, and fruits to use in other activities in the community, like making jam.
Jigsaw puzzles are a total brain workout, using both sides of your brain to complete the task. The right brain, or your creative side, sees the “big picture” while your left brain, or the analytical side, attempts to sort each piece logically. The two hemispheres working together create connections between both sides of the brain and between the individual brain cells. These connections increase our ability to learn, understand, and remember. Making a connection also produces dopamine, the chemical in our brains that increases learning and memory. Jigsaw puzzles have a positive impact on people living with dementia, slowing the onset or growth of the disease by keeping more parts of the brain active for longer.
Yoga has been a very popular exercise for quite a while, but did you know it has great benefits specifically for those 50+? The practice of yoga can have deep impact on bone strength, weight loss and maintenance, anxiety reduction, joint care, balance, and keeping the mind sharp. Since falls are a major concern as we age, slow and measured stretches and strengthening poses help to achieve better balance, which helps to diminish the possibility of falls. If you have a loved one who lives in an Aegis Living community, encourage them to try Chair Yoga if they haven’t already. The series is performed seated, for those who need extra support.
The connection between breathing and meditating are major factors in keeping anxiety, hypertension, and mood swings at bay. The slow, controlled breathing decreases nervous system activity, which has a positive impact on your overall health. Meditation also sharpens the mind by increasing focus and helps you gain clarity and peace of mind. The best part? Meditation is great at ANY age! Phone apps like Headspace can help guide you through a meditation practice whether it’s your first or 50th time. Our residents are often led through guided meditation at the end of an activity to reduce stress after physical activity.
The health benefits of volunteering are multi-faceted. Mentally, it keeps the brain active, and prevents depression by pulling seniors out of isolation to participate in their volunteer activity. Physically, volunteering usually involves movement, be it walking, knitting, cooking, etc. Volunteering also promotes intergenerational relationships by working with younger generations and creating opportunities for these generations to learn more about one another.
Not only does walking improve heart health, lower blood sugar, and even reduce pain, but it boosts mental health and is a great way to socialize. In fact, our residents participate in walking clubs at many of our communities to keep them active, social, and breathing fresh air. Plus, it’s easy to get going. If you’re not active and looking to increase your activity level, start with a slow 10-minute walk, and gradually increase your time and pace.
Each of our communities has a dedicated Life Enrichment Director who works with a talented activities team to engage their residents’ mind, body, and spirit, and encourage a holistic approach to healthy aging. If you’re interested in seeing them in action, we welcome you to visit your nearest Aegis Living community!