Staying active is also good for the memory, mood and mind. There are countless activities for seniors that can prevent depression, increase strength and mobility, and improve mental capacity. Whether you are helping care for an elderly loved one or looking to stay busy during retirement yourself, have a look at some of the following options:
The importance of staying active for seniors
Studies have consistently shown that staying active is essential throughout our lives. From young, all the way through to not so young, physical and mental activity is part of a healthy lifestyle. Being on the wrong side of 60 is no reason to give up on being active and stimulating your body and mind on a regular basis.
Even small amounts of physical activity every day can make a huge difference in quality of life for you or your loved one. Firstly, moving regularly ensures increased ambulatory motion and stamina so you can do more and feel better as you do it. Maintaining your strength without overdoing it reduces the likelihood of a fall and is good to help with muscle control.
What’s more, staying active has positive benefits for the mind. Studies show individuals who engage in physical activity are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Plus, the endorphin releasing effect of exercise means an improved feeling of general well-being. Keeping these endorphins up means that people over the age of 60 are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.
The other benefit of being active is that we tend to do so amongst company. Loneliness in later life can be a huge problem but finding a social activity can help you or your loved one to make friends and engage with like-minded people. Even a weekly meet up for cards or a cup of tea can lift the spirits and give seniors something to look forward to.
Different Activities for Seniors
Happily, when it comes to activities for seniors, the choices are almost unlimited. Here are some great ideas, some of which may not have occurred to you.
Sporting and outdoor activities
There is a swathe of groups these days specifically for seniors who wish to stay active through exercise. Canterbury Bankstown Council has at least three, which you can check out by visiting cbcity.nsw.gov.au/gentle exercise and cbcity.nsw.gov.au/active-living
Canterbury Bankstown Council also has a wonderful Tai-Chi group for seniors. cbcity.nsw.gov.au/tai-chi-for-seniors has all the information you need if you wish to give this ancient art form a try. Combining slow, controlled movements with controlled breathing, Tai-Chi is a great workout for the mind and body.
Then there’s lawn bowls, a sport which is well-known for being loved by seniors but which also attracts a younger crowd and is even included in the Commonwealth Games. A low impact and social sport, lawn bowls is a great way to spend some active time outdoors with friends. Head to lanternclub.com.au/roselands-flames-bowling-club/ to find out more about a great bowling club near you.
If you prefer not to go in the sun to play lawn bowls, the Diggers Indoor Bowling Club gather in the Lantern Club Community Room every Wednesday. Check them out here lanternclub.com.au/diggers-indoor-bowling-club/.
When it comes to activities for seniors, golfing is another perennial favourite. A great way to get out into nature and enjoy the outdoors, golf can also be higher or lower impact depending on whether you choose to walk to each hole or to take a buggy. If you live close to the Canterbury Golf Course, head to lanternclub.com.au/diggers-senior-golf-club/. This site shares information about the Diggers Senior Golf Club, which tees off every Friday morning and welcomes new members.
Darts is another great way to keep active. While it certainly isn’t the most physically demanding of sports, it still takes great concentration and coordination — a great mental workout. Dart clubs are just about anywhere there is a dart board hanging. Click on lanternclub.com.au/roselands-darts-club/ to find out more about the wonderful club that meets at Lantern Club every Sunday.
You may not be interested in break dancing but dancing is still an excellent activity for seniors. Some local gyms have ‘fit to dance’ classes which are designed to keep older bodies in shape.
You and your partner may enjoy some ballroom lessons, or you could find a local line dancing club to learn some routines. There are also several ‘silver belle’ tap dancing classes for seniors which you can participate in around Sydney.
Artistic activities for seniors
There are plenty of options for those less inclined to sporting activities. The art community welcomes seniors who have been waiting their whole life to have the time to get more creative.
Art groups for seniors can be found at most senior centres or through a search of local online listings. Groups can vary between painting, sculpture, craft or a general mix of all things artistic. As well as a great way to flex your mind and your creativity, these groups can be a fun social event.
Most choirs are excited to welcome new members. If you love to sing and socialise, try the Canterbury and Bankstown Community Choir. A friendly and welcoming group, this choir is always on the lookout for new voices.
Other art forms
Those who still have the dexterity may enjoy a sewing group. Trying your hand at sewing or quilting can be mentally rewarding and is a great place to meet new friends.
Social activities for seniors
While most of the activities above will present some opportunity for socialising, there will also be time spent engrossed in the activity. Those who aren’t so mobile or dextrous and wish to have a social experience will find plenty of activities for seniors available.
Bingo is a classic and fun social opportunity which has the added excitement of possible prizes. Lantern Club holds a brilliant bingo session twice a week. Click here to learn more.
Board and card games have always been a good way to socialise. Card games like Bridge and other games like Mahjong remain great opportunities to have a good time with friends or family.
Most communities will have card groups or game clubs but you can always set up your own weekly meetings with a few friends. Bring a deck of cards, a Scrabble board and some nibbles for an enjoyable afternoon.
Community activities for seniors
Community services are always looking for people to help out in different ways.
Organisations like Meals on Wheels always need help if you are still able to drive, or you could head to your local op shop to man the counter or sell stock.
Some seniors enjoy volunteering their skills to teach or coach others, while many museums and historic centres welcome volunteers who can act as tour guides or serve tea and coffee.
Local dog and cat shelters can always do with an extra pair of hands. Dog shelters, in particular, appreciate having visitors who take dogs for a walk. This can provide the stimulation of owning a pet without all the necessary cleaning and vet visits.
Aged care homes are often on the lookout for people to visit with elderly patients who do not have family close by. Seniors could also volunteer their time to help people who live independently but aren’t mobile enough to do their weekly shopping.
How to find and join activities and groups for seniors
As tends to be the way these days, the internet is your go-to source of information for local clubs and groups.
Websites like Facebook and meetup.com will provide you with an array of possibilities. Most groups will offer an email address or phone number to contact if you are interested. If you’re a senior woman in the Bankstown area, try connecting with the Bankstown Older Women’s Network. Head to cbcity.nsw.gov.au/bankstown-older-womens-network for all the information you need about this beautiful group.
If you find internet searches a little daunting and you don’t have someone to help you out, there are still options. Local libraries will often have plenty of information about community events, and even notice boards at the shopping centre can still be a smorgasbord of ideas. Senior centres are there specifically to help as well as host activities for seniors so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
How to stay active if you don’t have a car
For some seniors, transport can be an issue but there are always options. If a family member can’t take you to an activity or event, you can always ask at whichever club or group you are interested in. Most groups are keen for members and will find a way to help you out. It is likely there will be another member with their own transport who will be able to come and collect you.
As well as catching a taxi, you also have the option of Uber. Uber is easy to use and can be cheaper than taxis. Your Uber driver will happily get you where you need to go. To start using Uber, you do need to have a smartphone. Install the Uber app, add your credit card details and then you can use it to make bookings. The benefit of this service is your payment is collected by the app, not the driver. The service also lets you know if other passengers have found the driver to be reliable and friendly.
There are so many benefits to being active as a senior for your physical, mental and emotional health. Look for the activities which interest you in your area. You are sure to make plenty of new friends as you enjoy some of the best years of your life.