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Over 100 Ways to Play
By
Luke Redd

Whatever your age, interests, or abilities, you can enjoy pastimes that make you laugh, lose track of time, or feel like a goofy kid at heart. And plenty of activities cost little or no money. Some of the best types of diversions for older adults or elderly people include:

  1. Active games and sports
  2. Dancing, karaoke, and other performance arts
  3. Parties and other social gatherings
  4. Traditional games and puzzles
  5. Animal interactions
  6. Gardening, bird-watching, and other outdoor pastimes
  7. Arts and crafts
  8. Active learning
  9. Outings and excursions

According to one study, four of the top five activities most commonly cited by seniors as being their favorites are, by their nature, very active. They include walking and jogging, gardening and yard work, playing sports, and other physical pursuits.

But fun takes many different forms. So check out the following list of things to do for inspiration. And learn why play is so important.

9 Best Types of Fun Activities for Older Adults

1. Active Games and Sports

These give you the chance to get some exercise, improve your hand-eye coordination, and gain a sense of control over the physical world. All of that can be very satisfying, especially if you get to overcome obstacles or compete with other people in a friendly way.

Consider examples like:

  1. Golf
  2. Miniature golf
  3. Pool
  4. Shuffleboard
  5. Bocce
  6. Tennis
  7. Badminton
  8. Pickle ball
  9. Croquet
  10. Ball tossing
  11. Frisbee tossing
  12. Volleyball (including with a beach ball or balloon)
  13. Horseshoes
  14. Lawn bowling
  15. Indoor bowling
  16. Wii Bowling
  17. Curling

2. Dancing, Karaoke, and Other Performance Arts

Dancing to music can connect your body to exciting and healing rhythms. Singing popular songs (even badly) in front of other people can help you enjoy the humor in your efforts and avoid taking yourself too seriously. And performing in other ways—such as acting in a skit or trying a stand-up comedy routine—can remind you of how fun it is to tell stories in new or creative ways.

Take a chance and try things like:

  1. Line, ballroom, salsa, or swing dancing
  2. Seniors' or all-ages karaoke
  3. Acting in a play
  4. Telling jokes to an audience
  5. Reading books to groups of young kids
  6. Writing and acting out skits
  7. Participating in comedic improv
  8. Starting a seniors' dance troupe

3. Parties and Other Social Gatherings

Socializing can be a powerful way to inject more fun into your life. That's particularly true if you get to reminisce about old times or talk about the other things that interest you. In fact, a good conversation may elevate your mood and outlook more than anything else on this list, especially if you keep things jovial.

So don't shy away from attending other people's parties or joining clubs. Also, consider planning some of your own events. You can plan parties around all kinds of themes such as:

  1. Casino night
  2. Murder mystery
  3. Trivia night
  4. Mexican fiesta
  5. Ugly sweaters night
  6. The 1920s, 50s, 60s, etc.
  7. Masquerade ball
  8. Arabian nights
  9. Mardi Gras
  10. Pirates
  11. Hawaiian luau
  12. Jungle bash
  13. The Oscars
  14. Formal tea
  15. Secret Santa

4. Traditional Games and Puzzles

Board games and card games provide great ways to socialize and benefit from the joyful challenges of friendly competition. And puzzles can help sharpen your mind and give you a sense of progress and accomplishment.

Consider options like:

  1. Uno
  2. Scrabble
  3. Pictionary
  4. Yahtzee
  5. Bingo
  6. Checkers
  7. Chinese checkers
  8. Dominoes
  9. Monopoly
  10. Chess
  11. Backgammon
  12. Cribbage
  13. Go Fish
  14. Poker
  15. Bridge
  16. Mahjong
  17. Canasta
  18. Rummy
  19. Solitaire
  20. Crazy Eights
  21. Crossword puzzles
  22. Jigsaw puzzles
  23. Word search puzzles

5. Animal Interactions

Just like people, animals want and need to have fun. So playing with them can be mutually beneficial.

Besides, it's often easy to find animals to interact 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.

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

As long as the weather is decent, being outside can do wonders for your mood. After all, the natural world is full of pleasurable sights, sounds, smells, and other sensory delights. They let you feel like an explorer or like you're connected to something larger than yourself.

Consider diversions such as:

  1. Gardening
  2. Bird-watching
  3. Walking
  4. Hiking
  5. Picnics
  6. Boat rides
  7. Metal detecting
  8. Kite flying
  9. Nature photography

7. Arts and Crafts

These kinds of creative recreational pursuits are great for people of all ages, and they often make terrific elderly activities.

Ideas like these can reignite a person's vitality and sense of what's possible:

  1. Painting
  2. Sketching/drawing
  3. Ceramics
  4. Mosaics
  5. Woodcraft
  6. Polymer clay modeling
  7. Papercraft
  8. Beading
  9. Knitting
  10. Crocheting
  11. Embroidery
  12. Quiltmaking
  13. Card making
  14. Jewelry making

8. Active Learning

Learning is always more fun when it's something you choose to do for its own sake. Whole new avenues of possibility reveal themselves.

So follow your curiosity and impulses. Learning something new is beneficial at any age. As examples, consider learning how to:

  1. Sing or play a musical instrument
  2. Speak a foreign language
  3. Use computers more effectively
  4. Write code
  5. Design websites
  6. Take professional-quality photos
  7. Write great stories
  8. Cook exotic meals
  9. Decipher hieroglyphs
  10. Perform magic tricks

9. Outings and excursions

Many great options exist, especially when you gather a small group of people to share the experiences. You may not be a kid, but that doesn't mean you can't go on field trips for some laughter, excitement, exploration, and social bonding.

Consider excursions to places or events like:

  1. Theme parks
  2. Carnivals
  3. County fairs
  4. Comedy clubs
  5. Hands-on science museums
  6. Adult arcades
  7. Concerts
  8. Sporting events
  9. Theatrical performances
  10. Art shows
  11. Wineries
  12. Beer festivals

Why Play Is Important

Scientific studies continue to show that enjoyable activities can have several major benefits. For example, they have the power to help:

  • Improve how your brain works. Do you want to maintain your memory and optimize your ability to learn new things? Engaging in play on a regular basis can enhance your creativity and mental sharpness.
  • Heal, establish, or maintain relationships. A lot of seniors are lonely. In fact, on average, seniors without spouses or partners spend about 10 hours alone each day. But having fun can enable older adults to make new friends or improve existing relationships.
    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. Do you like the way you feel when you have a brighter outlook on life and your sense of time recedes into the background? Engaging in activities you enjoy 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 pain you might already have.

Play should be a major part of life for everyone. We can all probably use many more joyful experiences. It's who we are, no matter our age.

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