Your mom loved her assisted living community when she first moved in, but now she complains about being bored. Your dad in skilled nursing seems listless, tired, and disinterested in the activities he used to enjoy. You want your parents to enjoy themselves, but they have lost the enthusiasm they previously had for their senior living community.
Here are some suggestions you can share to help your parents overcome boredom in senior living and make their days more enjoyable.
1. Shake Up Your Routine
For many seniors, particularly those in memory care, routine can be comforting. Breakfast at eight. Reading the newspaper at nine. Stretching exercises at ten. Watching a favorite TV show at eleven. Having those touchpoints during the day can help some seniors feel in control of their lives.
But for other seniors, predictable schedules become boring. Maybe they don’t want to play bingo every Tuesday afternoon or do a craft activity every Thursday morning. Sitting in their room watching TV every weekend gets a little dull, too.
When boredom sets in, often the best way to alleviate it is to shake up your routine. Look at the schedule of activities at your community and do something you’ve never done before. Are you skipping the weekly poker activity? Why not give it a try?
Also, look over the schedule of activities for something you don’t see every month. If there’s a seasonal event—a Valentine’s Day party in February, for example—be sure to participate. If your senior living community invites a singer or a dancing troupe to provide entertainment, be on hand for that special performance.
And if nothing on the senior living schedule strikes your fancy, make your own fun by challenging another resident to a gin rummy game or chess match.
2. Learn Something New
While some people believe the adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” that is not actually true. We can learn when we are older, and in fact, science proves that engaging our brains allows us to make new neural connections and enhance our brain health. In fact, one of the best ways to engage our brains and keep ourselves from becoming bored is the novelty of trying new things.
There are several new things you can try in an assisted living environment to keep your brain engaged. For instance, have you always meant to learn a second language, but never had the chance? Why not try it now? There are various language learning apps—like Dulingo, Mindsnack,or Babbel—that can help you learn Spanish, French, or whatever your preference at a nicely paced clip.
And if you’re not very adept at using a computer, many senior living communities have computers and will offer assistance—or even computer classes—to teach you how to use them.
Here are some ideas for other activities you can try:
- Learn a new card game like bridge or canasta.
- Learn how to knit, sew, or embroider.
- Learn a musical instrument such as keyboard, guitar, or ukulele. Have your music teacher come to your independent living or assisted living apartment—or conversely, have a family member drive you to your teacher’s studio or residence.
- Try your hand at gardening. Many senior living communities have gardening clubs and activities.
3. Make a New Friend
Chances are that new residents are moving into your senior living or assisted living community on a weekly, bi-weekly or, at the very least, monthly basis. If you remember how it was when you first moved in, you’ll know that those new residents will appreciate a friendly greeting or conversation. Invite the new resident to join you for a meal or an activity.
Chat about your families, your interests and hobbies, your likes and your dislikes. Chances are you’ll find that you both like playing Scrabble or chess. Invite the new resident for a game, and soon you may found out that you’ve made a new friend.
4. Find Your Creative Side
Being creative can involve a wide range of activities—from painting and sculpting to writing and storytelling. If you’re able to express yourself with art or dictate a story into a recording device, then the boredom you otherwise were feeling may just fade away. You might find yourself eager to get up in the morning to create something new.
5. Get Physical
A lot of times, boredom is not really boredom but lethargy. Sitting or staying in place for too long can make you feel sleepy or listless. Conversely, getting out of your chair to do a physical activity makes you feel more energetic, enthusiastic, and excited about life. Many senior living communities have walking or exercise clubs, so be sure to take advantage of those.
If something like that doesn’t exist, start an exercise group of your own. Participate in morning exercise routines, yoga, swimming, dance activities, or anything else that allows you to be more active and feel more physically fit.
6. Put Something Special on the Calendar
Boredom typically occurs if one day melds into another without anything to look forward to. The key to alleviating boredom is to make sure you put events on your calendar that you know you will enjoy. It may be something as simple as writing down the days that a special relative or friend is coming for a visit.
Or you might take advantage of your senior living community’s trips to shopping centers or restaurants. In addition, plan your own special outings such as a night at the theater or a symphonic orchestra performance.
Seeing those special dates on the calendar will brighten your outlook and help you realize that residing in a senior living community doesn’t mean you have to lose your opportunity to do the things in life you love to do.
CHIME IN: What ideas do you have to overcome boredom in senior living?