At the moment, I’m sure that, more than anything else, we want to spend time with our loved ones and, in particular, our elderly parents. We have missed so many celebrations and Christmas this year looks as if it will be far from normal. I’ve a list of activities I can’t wait to share with my parent. It’s going to be so important to spend time with them again because, as we know, the impact of isolation and loneliness on our mental health can be severe.
There are, of course, plenty of activities you can do with your elderly parents, even if they have limited mobility. Keeping your parents happy in their golden years creates precious family memories and is also a great way of keeping them involved and engaged in family activities.
You could try some of the following:
Fun activities to share with your elderly parents
1. Play Board Games
Playing board games and cards with your elderly parents is a great way to spend an evening – and the kids can play too. Many families enjoy games such as chess, dominos and scrabble or how about the traditional Monopoly or a quiz game like Trivial Pursuit?
Find new and exciting games for them too to help keep their minds sharp. How about Mahjong or Backgammon?
2. Go to a Museum
During lockdown, many of us have missed visiting our local museums and art galleries. My dad loves to take his grandchildren to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff but it hasn’t been possible for quite a while. We are looking to a return once restrictions have lifted.
Staying home all day every day can be very tiring for the elderly and a museum visit can be a real treat if they have the stamina for walking. If you can visit, try to go during the week when it’s less busy but phone ahead to check opening hours and whether there are ramps and access for those with disabilities.
Don’t forget that lots of museums are opening their doors online and via Zoom at the moment too.
3. Consider Baking and Cooking
Many elderly people value their independence and this applies to cooking too. I know my parents definitely don’t consider themselves ready for delivered meals – and they are in their 80s! Preparing a meal together is a lovely bonding experience. You get to chop the food and they get to give you valuable cooking and baking tips. Baking is, of course, a lovely way for grandparents and grandchildren to spend time together.
Whether you introduce new recipes or stick to traditional favourites, there’s plenty of time to talk and discover if there is anything they need – perhaps gadgets to help open jars, or a new whisk or blender.
4. Watch TV Shows and Movies
No one likes to be bored and sometimes watching alone isn’t much fun. You only have to watch the TV show “Gogglebox” to understand that! Laughing together over a comedy show can lift everyone’s mood.
If your parents don’t have a subscription to Sky for example, then a great gift would be a box set of their favourite TV series. Join them and watch the old movies – my dad loves war films and my mum loves the classic Hollywood movies with stars like Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo.
5. Treat them to a pampering gift
Giving your elderly parent a pampering touch can greatly help their mental health. For example, you could offer a massage or manicures or even help them with personal projects such as writing a memoir or organising them photographs. It’s a great opportunity to relax them and share their memories with you.
6. Visit the park
Fresh air and sunshine is important for all of us and a great way to make that vital vitamin-D to strengthen bones. The elderly need activities to give them a change of scene and the stimulation of seeing other people. Interacting with other people will give them a boost. Depending on your loved one’s mobility, get involved in park games or take a walk around.
We know how important exercise is for maintaining mobility and flexibility in later life. If your elderly parents are able to walk well, a stroll with the grandkids is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. If their mobility allows, consider golf and badminton or perhaps when the pools are open again, a gentle swim.
8. Attend events in your local area
There are generally plenty of local events to attend during restriction free times – car boot sales, farmers’ markets, country shows, music concerts – the list is endless. Why not pick a couple you think your parents might like and suggest they come along. You may discover a new activity you can all enjoy.
Caring for your elderly parents does not mean buying everything they need and paying for expensive medications. Sometimes, the little things you do make a significant difference. No matter how busy you are try to include your parents in your schedule.