Fun is Good“Fun is good,” Dr. Seuss “prescribes.” And, it isn’t reserved for the young. Regardless of age, joyful pursuits are what make us feel truly alive, engaged and connected. The world becomes more vibrant and inviting when we give ourselves permission to play.

The importance of play can’t be overstated. That’s true for everybody, but it might be particularly true for seniors. After all, in our later years, many of us become more prone to issues that can affect our health and happiness. So, any activities that can help us restore or prolong our vitality are essential. Having fun is a lot more powerful in that regard than most people probably realize.

In fact, scientific studies continue to show that play and fun activities can have several major benefits:

  • Improve how your brain works. Playing and having fun—on a regular basis—can help you avoid memory problems and enhance your creativity and mental sharpness
  • Heal, establish or maintain relationships. Our social lives are incredibly important for our overall well-being. However, a lot of seniors are lonely. In fact, on average, seniors without spouses or partners spend about 10 hours alone each day.1 But fun and play can enable seniors to make new friends or improve existing relationships. After all, things like laughter and friendly competition are known to increase harmony, trust, empathy and intimacy among people who experience them together
  • Improve your mental and emotional well-being. Engaging in fun and playful activities can expand your optimism, multiply your moments of joy, and reduce your stress. It can even help prevent depression.
  • Extend your life and improve your physical vitality. Who doesn’t want to feel younger or more energetic? Creating plenty of fun moments in your life can be a good way to boost your immune system, reduce your risk of illness and minimize your perception of any existing pain you might already have.

Fun Activities for Seniors

Most of us would probably say that a passive activity like watching TV is entertaining. But does it really rise to the level of being fun? On its own, maybe not so much (especially if you’re watching alone). That’s why it’s often a good idea to pursue other kinds of activities—the kinds that make you an active participant in something.

Are your existing hobbies still good sources of fun? If so, keep pursuing them and consider inviting some friends—or even your grandkids, if you have them—to join you. Teaching other people about something you have a passion for can be highly enjoyable and rewarding.

Also, did you know that adults over the age of 65 tend to list physical activities as being their favorite pastimes? According to one study, four of the top five activities most commonly cited by seniors as being their favorites included activities like walking and jogging, gardening and yard work, playing sports and other physical pursuits. Other favorite activities included reading, arts and crafts, existing hobbies, games and puzzles, and socializing.2

Here’s the bottom line: You get to decide what’s fun for you. Even if you can’t be as active as you want because of a disability or advancing age, you can still find plenty of opportunities for playing and having fun. Many activities (even physical ones) can be adapted to accommodate your capabilities.

Here is some inspiration gathered by :

1. Active Games and Sports

  • Golf
  • Miniature golf
  • Pool
  • Shuffleboard
  • Bocce
  •  Tennis
  • Badminton
  • Pickle ball
  • Croquet
  • Ball tossing
  • Frisbee tossing
  • Balloon volleyball
  • Beach ball volleyball
  • Traditional volleyball
  • Horseshoes
  • Lawn bowling
  • Indoor bowling
  • Wii Bowling
  • Curling

2. Dancing, Karaoke, and Performance

  • Line dancing
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Salsa dancing
  • Swing dancing
  • Seniors’ karaoke
  • All-ages karaoke
  • Acting in a play
  • Telling jokes to an audience
  • Reading books to groups of young kids
  • Writing and acting out skits
  • Participating in comedic improv
  • Starting a seniors’ dance troupe

3. Parties and Other Social Gatherings

  • Casino night
  • Murder mystery
  • Trivia night
  • Mexican Fiesta
  • Ugly sweaters night
  • The 1920s, 50s, 60s, etc.
  • Masquerade ball
  • Arabian nights
  • Mardi Gras
  • Pirates
  • Hawaiian luau
  • Jungle bash
  • The Oscars
  • Formal tea
  • Secret Santa

4. Traditional Games and Puzzles

  • Uno
  • Scrabble
  • Pictionary
  • Yahtzee
  • Bingo
  • Checkers
  • Chinese checkers
  • Dominoes
  • Monopoly
  • Chess
  • Backgammon
  • Cribbage
  • Go Fish
  • Poker
  • Bridge
  • Mahjong
  • Canasta
  • Rummy
  • Solitaire
  • Crazy Eights
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Word search puzzles

5. Animal Interactions

Who can resist the affection and playfulness of cute and cuddly animals? Just like people, they want and need to have fun. Playing with them can be mutually beneficial. Besides, it’s often easy to find animals to play with even if you don’t have any pets. For example, many animal shelters welcome seniors who want to give dogs, cats or other critters some quality attention and playtime.

6. Gardening, Bird-watching, and Other Outdoor Activities

  • Gardening
  • Bird-watching
  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Picnics
  • Boat rides
  • Metal detecting
  • Kite flying
  • Nature photography

7. Arts and Crafts

  • Finger painting
  • Water coloring
  • Oil or acrylic painting
  • Sketching
  • Pastel drawing
  • Ceramics
  • Mosaics
  • Woodcraft
  • Polymer clay modeling
  • Paper craft
  • Beading
  • Knitting
  • Crocheting
  • Embroidery
  • Quilt making
  • Card making
  • Jewelry making

8. Active Learning

  • Sing or play a musical instrument
  • Speak a foreign language
  • Use computers more effectively
  • Write code
  • Design websites
  • Take professional-quality photos
  • Write great stories
  • Cook exotic meals
  • Decipher hieroglyphs
  • Perform magic tricks

9. Amusing Excursions

  • Theme parks
  • Carnivals
  • County fairs
  • Comedy clubs
  • Hands-on science museums
  • Adult arcades
  • Concerts
  • Sporting events
  • Plays
  • Art shows
  • Wineries
  • Beer festivals

Make Fun a Top Priority

With so many great activities for seniors to choose from, it would be silly not to play as often as possible. Get back in touch with your child-like qualities and start celebrating them. Having fun is simply too important to ignore.

References

(1) Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, American Time Use Survey, 2017.(2) Geriatric Nursing, “Older adults’ favorite activities are resoundingly active: Findings from the NHATS study,” 2017.

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