Hobbies may provide diversion, relaxation, entertainment, and enjoyment, but they also can benefit our mental and physical health. This is especially true for senior adults, who are more prone to depression due to isolation and loneliness. In fact, studies have shown that leisure activities positively impact senior cognitive and physical health.
Find a Hobby
Perhaps you used to have a hobby but stopped pursuing it due to diminished physical abilities or financial constraints. No worries — many hobbies can be enjoyed despite physical limitations and for little or no money.
Senior Tech Club provides basic information about social media, including definition of terms, ways to access social media, and privacy tips.
Facebook is the most popular social media site for and a great way to stay in touch with friends and loved ones.
Zoom is a video chat platform for discussions that is very easy to use.
AARP is a source of information for a wide range of topics related to aging.
Silversurfers is a social network with information and entertainment offerings for seniors.
Painting, drawing, and creating useful items enable seniors to explore many ways to display their creativity while helping to keep their minds engaged and functioning at a high level.
Games and puzzles
Many games can be played with as few as two people, including:
- Chess and checkers
Additionally, many free, online games are great ways to conveniently socialize with family and friends near and far.
Books and magazines
Reading is a wonderful hobby. It is a way to maintain cognitive health and an opportunity to learn. There are many ways to share what you are reading with others and access books at low prices.
If you like reading and discussing your books with groups, then consider pursuing an online book club, which are easy to find. Are you interested in history? Novels? Sports? There is a book club for you.
Audiobooks are another book resource, and there are audiobook players for seniors.
The National Library Service also provides a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page.
Movies, TV, and music
Movie platforms like Netflix provide a large library of movies and TV shows that can be ordered online. Get involved in a mystery plot, laugh at a sitcom you watched years ago. Visual escape is a good way to deal with stress and worry.
Music has always been one of the most powerful ways to inspire, motivate, and uplift people. Its positive effects have been shown for people of all ages, and even for those with dementia.
The online music platform Pandora offers a wide variety of musical choices for free.
Learn something new
Do you want to learn a foreign language or take a science course? There are free online classes available.
“TED Talks” supplies videos on a wide variety of subjects from expert speakers. And it’s also free.
Photography is a terrific hobby that focuses the mind and eyes on the world around us. You don’t have to travel to an exotic place, as there is probably plenty of beauty around you once you start looking for it. A good digital camera and a book about how to frame and shoot photos can get you started, not to mention online photography courses. It’s a healthy way to open your eyes to the special places in which you live.
You may not think of exercise as a hobby, but it can be both enjoyable and healthy without being painful or boring. (Consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program.)
Walk around your neighborhood. Enjoy the fresh air, and feel good knowing that you are doing the right thing to promote your mental and physical health.
Strength training is also important, and it rewards you with the increased capability for carrying in groceries, taking out the trash, reaching for a top shelf, and just moving with more energy and better balance.
Once you get into an exercise routine, you may find you look forward to each session.
Is there anything more calming than a garden? The flowers and plants seem to absorb human stress. Tending them and watching them grow is a source of personal satisfaction.
There are plenty of online gardening clubs.
Cook or bake
This hobby takes in all of the senses — touch, sight, smell, taste and even hearing (something sizzling in a skillet). Cooking and baking also can provide personal satisfaction by producing something others can enjoy.
Care for a pet
If you want a healthier outlook on life, find a pet to care for. Pets have been known to help overcome depression and loneliness. They also provide physical exercise when you play with them or walk them around the neighborhood.
Make sure that you select a pet that matches your physical capabilities. (Examples: A large dog might pull you off your feet or accidentally trip you. A young dog may have more energy than you can handle.)
Hobbies can restore a senior’s self-confidence and a sense of purpose, as well as provide physical benefits. As a caregiver, you can help your loved one stay involved and interested in making the most of his or her life. Provide your senior with emotional support and encouragement by taking an interest in his or her hobbies. And, if they need help in choosing a hobby and pursuing it, help them find the resources to do so.