- Stage a sing-along to his/her favorite music. Play the music loud and clear.
- Get all dressed up and take some photo portraits – use them for family gifts.
- Rent/borrow movies for slow afternoons – old ones, funny ones, scary ones.
- Have a deck of cards on hand and play the old familiar games – gin rummy, hearts, war.
- Scrabble is great fun with grandkids.
- Keep a puzzle going if you have a spare tabletop – people coming in always get engaged and stay to talk
- Get out of the room – visit other residents, attend sing-alongs, presentations, craft sessions, chair exercises lunch groups.
- Pull out a family album – get them to identify the older ones you may have forgotten and take notes or audiotape the stories you hear. Family photos trigger floods of memories.
- Pick a theme for the week or month. Decorate his/her room and door. It will bring people in to check it out and or conversation.
- Rearrange furniture and pictures – just for stimulation.
- Order in or pick up some favorite foods that aren’t on the regular menu – hot dogs for my mom, milkshakes for my husband’s dad.
- Manicures and pedicures are a special treat too.
- Have candy for drop-in guests and gifts for visitors –
- order online; think about birthday and holiday gifts and ‘shop’ on line.
- Make up a Christmas, holiday or birthday wish list from the web – send it to family members. So think about what your loved one has always enjoyed, listen to what they talk about, look around your neighborhood and give it a try!
Here is a nice article by Lynn Howe, an almost retired registered nurse whose experiences originate from caring for her 93 year old mother:
Your confined-to-home (or assisted living or nursing home) parent, just wants to have fun! You are focused on their safety, finances, medical treatment, medications, privacy, nutrition and therapy. You busy yourself with monitoring their progress (or decline) and doing everything in your power to keep them comfortable. You worry about their reduced energy level, increasing fatigue, physical weakness and variable mental status. But do you know how important it is for them to just have fun? To laugh deeply, live in the moment, to briefly not be just old and frail, to forget pain?
OK, so what can you do? … you might be surprised at all the options. Too often thoughtful families accommodate so much to their senior’s weakening state that they overlook how much they can do and enjoy! While it’s good to try to bring the world to them with visits, letters, phone calls and email, it’s also important and possible to keep bringing them out in the world. Of course, it may involve more work for you — transporting walker or wheelchair, assisting in/out of cars and doors, walking slowly, negotiating steps carefully, finding bathrooms, keeping him/her dry, warm (or cool) — so be prepared for a different pace and smaller goals. And some cajoling might be needed to just get going.
Seniors look forward to having a day out, but as they age, they don’t have the stamina or mobility for trips to fascinating museums, over-stimulating casinos, monster malls, giant sports stadiums, wooded parks, loud modern restaurants, etc. But they may be able to go out for an hour or two. … a simple trip to the supermarket — colorful flowers, fanciful balloons, acres of fresh, bright produce, bakery smells, energetic families with huge carts. …pushing a walker along, senses on overload, straying down enticing aisles.
Other ideas might be a quilt shop for a former quilter, a hardware store for the ardent handyman, the library, bakery, family style restaurant, plant store or flower shop.
Fun at home
You don’t have to go out to have fun of course. Opportunities are right there in their home (or facility) to have fun and fight boredom.