As we age, our mobility and ability to participate in activities we once enjoyed declines. Going on a run, hike, or playing sports can become a thing of the past. However, our mind, body, and spirit still want to experience the incredible world that surrounds us, and participate in wholesome, fulfilling activities. Although seniors’ mobility may be limited in comparison to younger years, fulfilling activities need not be as limited.
Fulfilling Activities for Mental Health
Mental health consists of their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. One has a high level of mental well-being when they are able to actively use their cognitive and emotional capability and function well within their social circles and surroundings. Mental health is important! Poor mental health can lead to debilitating conditions such as depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, appetite changes, sleep irregularities, fatigue, pessimism, and other mental illnesses. Mental illness has been linked to chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, abnormalities in stress hormones, and more.
Conversely, engaging in positive mental health activities results in reduced stress, enhanced emotional well-being, better focus, improved sleep, better pain coping ability, improved memory, lower depression, and improved calmness. Therefore, it is important to engage in regular, healthy activities that will enhance one’s mental health.
There are several different activities that can improve their mental health. It is important to discover and engage in activities that are individualized to each person. If a person is living in a senior living home, they can speak with the activities director and brainstorm about activities that they find interesting and fun, rather than just passing time. Some ideas for activities that will promote mental health could include:
- Playing board games with a group, friends, or family members
- Artistic activities such as drawing, coloring, painting, knitting, or pottery
- Reading or listening to a book
- Woodworking or building something new
- Practicing mindfulness and meditation
- Taking an online education course
- Doing word finds, crossword puzzles, or jigsaw puzzles
- Playing a musical instrument
Whatever the mental activity may be, the important thing to remember is to find one that creates happy emotions and a state of well-being.
Fulfilling Activities for Physical Health
A person’s physical health is more than just how fit they are. Physical health is how well a person’s internal and external body parts function such as their eyes, ears, organs, tissues, bones, muscles, and cells. A person that has a high state of physical well-being is able to perform their daily activities and tasks with minimal restrictions. Some of the health benefits of physical activity for seniors can include:
- Healthy weight
- Reduced health risks of chronic illness and disease
- Stronger muscles and bones
- Fall prevention
- Increased life span
- Reduced mental stress and increased cognition
It can be difficult to find physical activities that are fulfilling as we age, especially if we experience common body aches and pains. However, there are several physical activities that can take place for those who experience limited mobility. Physical activities could include:
- Chair yoga or aerobics
- Regular walks
- Stationary bike or treadmill
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Resistance bands or weights
- Cardio games on gaming systems such as the Wii or Xbox
It can be frustrating to no longer be able to engage in a physical sport or activity that a person once was able to. However, trying new activities and realizing that they are fun and reap great benefits is encouraging! A person can work with a physical therapist to determine different activities that would be appropriate for them and promote physical health.
Fulfilling Activities for Spiritual Health
A person’s spiritual health consists of them believing in something beyond oneself. As a person becomes spiritually healthy they are able to answer lifelong questions regarding the meaning of life, feeling connected to others, and truths about life and the universe. Spirituality is often interconnected to one’s faith, religion, and culture. Having a high sense of spiritual well-being typically results in one feeling at peace, being hopeful, wanting to make the world a better place, finding happiness beyond materialistic possessions, and experiencing comfort even through difficult times. There are several ways that a person can engage in healthy spiritual practices. These can include:
- Attending religious services
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Providing service to others
- Appreciating the outdoors and nature through walks or drives
- Reading and studying scripture
- Attending spiritual retreats
- Watching, reading, or listening to spiritual and uplifting messages
Take Steps To Participate In Fulfilling Activities
Although aging is inevitable, it does not mean that seniors should not engage in healthy physical, mental, and spiritual activities. There are many ways that individuals can do so, and as they do, they will experience a multitude of benefits. Specialists such as recreational therapists, activities directors, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, counselors, personal trainers, and more are readily available to help tailor a plan that is fitting for each individual. Make the choice today and take the necessary steps to participate in fulfilling activities.
CDC. (2021). About Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
CDC. (2002). Benefits of Physical Activity. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
Scott, E. (2022). What is spirituality? Verywell mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-spirituality-can-benefit-mental-and-physical-health-3144807
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