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Helping Seniors Learn New Hobbies

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It’s important for older people to remain social and active in order to avoid boredom or loneliness, and perhaps more importantly, to help reduce the risk of health problems. Maintaining a hobby is the answer and we have put together a list of our top 10 hobby ideas to help give older people some inspiration.

Different hobbies will have a different impact on the person taking part. Sport and fitness activities will help to keep older people healthy and energetic but will also improve their social life due to meeting others with the same interests as them.

Hobby ideas, those such as cooking and gardening can help boost the morale of older people, by giving them a sense of achievement and pride. Reading books and playing video games help to keep the brain active, therefore reducing the risk of dementia. Of course, these are also fun activities for old people.

There are plenty of options available, so let’s look at some of the top hobby ideas.

Looking after your Health

As we age, our health becomes more important. Looking after our bodies becomes a necessity, whilst ensuring that our mental health remains healthy is equally as important.

According to the NHS, most adults aged 65 and over spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or laying down. In-turn, this means that this age category is most at risk of obesity, heart disease and an earlier death compared to the general population.

It is said that people should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week – preferably trying to do something every day, even if it’s in 10-minute sessions. Taking part in physical activity can help reduce the risk of several medical conditions, such as:

Diabetes.
Cardiovascular Disease.
Depression.
Dementia.
Arthritis.

There are so many hobby ideas out there which can help people to fight back against the ageing process, by remaining fit, healthy, active and socially active.

Sports

As we’ve already covered in this hobby ideas article, it’s vital that older people take part in physical activity as much as possible. There are plenty of different sports to choose from that older people are guaranteed to find the one for them.

Some sporting hobby ideas include:

Walking Football.
Swimming.
Bowls.
Tennis.
Squash.
Golf.

All of the above have different effects on the body. Not only is sport great for our physical well-being, but it is also great for our mental state. Many sports are played as a team, which means that those who take part will make new friends and therefore improve their social life. In-turn, this helps to combat loneliness in old age.

Of course, more than anything else, sport is fun. It gives people something to look forward to each week, whether they’re a member of a club/team or if they’re just having a social game with their friends.

Find out more about sports for older people.

Fitness Activities

You don’t need to take part in sport to meet new people and look after your health. There are plenty of hobby ideas out there which are based on fitness, such as:

Going to the gym.
Fitness classes & groups.
Hiking.
Walking.
Nordic Walking.
Cycling.

A closer look at Nordic Walking

Nordic Walking is great for your social life and for your medical well-being. Nordic Walking is a full-body exercise which was originally a summer training regime for cross-country skiers. According to the NHS, Nordic Walking is:

A full-body exercise that’s easy on the joints and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. It’s based on using specially designed walking poles in a way that harnesses the power of the upper body to propel you forward as you walk.”

There are different classes available, including gentle walks for those with health concerns to workout walks for those who are looking to improve their fitness by losing weight and toning their body. By using Nordic poles, you are taking the weight off your knees and lower body joints. Nordic Walking can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and asthma.

Just like you would if you were taking part in a sporting activity, Nordic walking groups will also introduce you to new people. This can help improve your social life and combat any loneliness that you may be feeling. If you’re interested in Nordic walking, you can find a local instructor on the Nordic Walking UK website.

If you’re considering taking part in a sporting or fitness activity, it’s important to know what your body can cope with. If you have issues with your muscles or bones, it’s advised that you speak with your GP or fitness instructor in order to understand the level of activity you can take part in.

Find out more about Nordic Walking.

Gardening

Gardening has plenty of benefits for older people. Gardening can become an addictive hobby, as everybody wants their garden to look the best it can. Keen gardeners want to fill their gardens with the most beautiful flowers and plants, cut the lawn into a nice, neat design and maybe even grow some fruit and vegetables.

There are plenty of benefits, both mentally and physically, of getting out into the garden. Examples include:

Getting out into the fresh air.
Helping to keep fit and active.
Keeping older people busy.
Can provide nutritious, healthy food.
Reducing stress levels.

Ensuring that we’re are up and about and keeping active rather than sitting down all day, is great for our health. In fact, a 2015 study found that just two, 50-minute sessions of potting plants and watering flowers, dramatically improves endurance, dexterity and brain function. As well as this, after seven weeks the participants of the study all lost weight, particularly around their waists, which is one of the most dangerous parts of the body to store fat.

Read these five benefits of taking up gardening.

Gaming

One of the most interesting stories to have hit the news in recent years is the rise of the silver gamer. Yes, that’s right, more people over the age of 55 are playing video games now than ever before.

In 2014, The Telegraph reported that one in four people over 55 had a games console in their home. The majority of older people with consoles in their homes did not have any children living at home. It’s not just games consoles either. The elderly are getting more accustomed to tablets and online version of classics such as Scrabble.

Playing games provides great entertainment and can also be a way of socialising with friends and fellow gamers. It’s not just the social and fun aspect either. Playing video and digital games gives the brain a healthy challenge. One study, in 2015, suggested that 3D computer games can help prevent memory loss. Hand-eye co-ordination and reactions times can also be improved by playing computer games – attributes that may begin to weaken as people get older.

Top games for older players include:

Lexulous (Facebook Game) – This is an online word game based on the traditional board game, Scrabble. You can play against the computer or against other players from around the world.
Bejewelled – In this puzzle game, players are required to form a horizontal or vertical chain of three or more gems of the same colour. You do this by swapping gems around the screen.
Wii Sports – This game is available on the Nintendo Wii. Players play the game like they would the sport in real life. Sports include; Tennis, Boxing and Bowling.
Brain Training – These games are designed to challenge the mind and to get older people thinking. Players will answer questions and solver difficult equations and puzzles.
Age of Empires – This series is one of the biggest strategy game franchises in the world. Games focus on historical periods such as the Stone Age and Iron Age.
Super Mario – One of the most well-known and successful platform games. This game will provide hours of entertainment and plenty of puzzle-solving.
Suduko – This well-known numbers game which often you’ll find in puzzle books and the back of newspapers has now got its own app. Great for keeping the mind sharp!

Find out more about the benefits of gaming.

Social Media

Social media has taken over the world and is especially popular among the younger generation. This phenomenon has also become one of the most popular activities on our list of hobby ideas. According to a report on The Telegraph last year, the proportion of 55 to 64-year-olds using social media passed the 50% mark in 2015.

Popular social platforms such as Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp are great for older people – especially those who live alone or away from family. Plenty of younger people now choose to move away from their childhood home, whether it’s to go to university or for work purposes. This means that the older generation can get left behind, making it difficult for them to see or speak with their family. It’s in situations like this where social media steps in and allows people to re-connect with their family and friends, both nearby and across the world:

Facebook – A platform for connecting and re-connecting with friends and pages. It allows people to instant message loved ones, share photographs, videos, post statuses and much more.
Sykpe – One of top live video messaging services. It allows people to video chat their loved ones all around the world. This means never having to miss a moment.
WhatsApp – Free instant messaging and telephone calls on mobile phones, without using voice minutes or texts.
Twitter –  Customised to only see the things you’re interested in. Share thoughts and opinions with the people who care, all in a tweet consisting of 140 characters!
Instagram – A place to share photographs. Share pictures of what you care about with your followers whether they’re friends, family or people with similar interests.

Out of all the elderly activities on this list, being a pro on social media is the one that will impress the grandchildren the most!

Find out more about social media

Cooking

As previously mentioned in this article, cooking a meal can give a great sense of achievement, along with a feeling of happiness as loved ones and friends enjoy the food that has been made.

Cooked meals can bring friends and family together. Sunday dinner is a British institution. Everybody likes to boast about their grandma’s Sunday dinner! But it’s not just the social benefits of cooking which are important. Cooking homemade food is also great for our health.

Create meal plans, try to master healthy recipes and learn about new foods from around the world. Rather than eating out, getting a takeaway or buying frozen, processed meals, eat genuine meat with healthy vegetables. Maybe use items grown in the garden, as discussed in the gardening section of this blog article.

Go into the kitchen and create some healthy, tasty masterpieces!

Find out more about the benefits of cooking.

Jigsaw Puzzles

There are plenty of hobby ideas for older people to choose from, but one of the most enjoyable and brain-challenging is a jigsaw puzzle. There are so many different types of puzzle to choose from, including actual photographs, cartoons, paintings and other backgrounds.

Puzzles are available with 500 pieces, 1000 pieces, 2000 pieces and even a challenging 5000 pieces. The best thing about puzzles is that they don’t need to be finished in one go – stop and come back to them whenever suits. This potentially can create days, even weeks of fun.

Well-known puzzling brands include:

Ravensburger – Ravensburger creates fun puzzles for the children, and serious, challenging puzzles for the adults. 3D puzzles are also available from this brand.
Jan Van Haasteren – These puzzles are all about the fun, chaotic scenes that have been designed by Jan Van Haasteren. Little hidden features appear throughout the range.
Wasgij – Something a little different. In these puzzles, you must create an alternative scene based on the clue given on the box. Wasjig is also jigsaw spelled backwards!!

3D puzzles provide a whole different aspect to this activity. Re-create some of the world’s most popular landmarks in puzzle form. Examples include the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Tower Bridge. Sporting examples include Old Trafford and various F1 cars.

All of the above will give the brain a workout – helping to keep the cognitive functions active. This is important in for older people as it can help prevent the onset of dementia.

Read more about jigsaw puzzles.

Books

Who doesn’t love to read a good book? This is the most traditional entry on our list of hobby ideas for older people. Reading is something we all enjoy doing. It doesn’t matter if you’re 65 or 25, a good book can provide days of entertainment.

There’re so many different genres to choose from, which means that there will be something for everyone. For TV and sports fans, there are plenty of autobiographies. For those who like horror stories, here is the Stephen King collection.

Current best sellers include:

The Missing Wife by Sheila O’Flanagan.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling.
Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Vol.1 by Stephen King.

Of course, people don’t even need to have the actual book now if they don’t want to. Most stories are also available as E-Books, for use on devices such as the Kindle. Despite older people generally preferring an actual book, E-Books can allow them to read easier and faster – according to this study.

Reading an actual book can help to enhance memory, sharpen decision-making skills, reduce stress and help people to get to sleep much faster. Reading in bed is a common thing to do as it induces shut-eye much better than watching TV before bed.

See our top 5 book suggestions for older people.

Learn to Play a New Instrument

Of all our hobby ideas, this is possibly the one that we all consider at some point in our lives. There are plenty of instruments for you to choose from too, such as the guitar, drums, piano, saxophone or violin.

Teaching yourself a new skill provides your brain with a challenge, which is important in the battle against dementia. You’ll also develop your time management and organisational skills during the learning process, as you’ll have to get it your full attention if you’re going to progress and improve.

Your hand-eye coordination also improves as your brain will be working to covert the musical notes that you’re reading on the page into specific motor patterns, breathing techniques and rhythm in your hands.

Of course, playing a musical instrument is also plenty of fun and you could end up making new friends by joining a band once you’re ready.

See our top five musical instruments for you to learn.

Model Building

Something that you perhaps hadn’t thought of before. Model building is a hobby that can become quite addictive, especially as you don’t even have to leave your home. Putting together some of your favourite cars or planes can help you to develop your skills. Model Space hint that you’ll learn and/or improve on the following:

Researching.
Planning.
Cutting.
Drilling.
Sculpting.
Sanding.
Gluing.
Painting.
Detailing.
Photography.

Model building can also be a good reliever of stress. You can escape to your own little assembly area to concentrate solely on building your latest project, clearing your mind of any problems that you had previously.

Model building is also a great hobby to enjoy with your grandchildren. You can build your projects together, strengthening your relationship and teaching them the rewards of good teamwork.

Finally, the sense of achievement that you’ll have once your latest project is complete cannot be beaten. You can take a step back and appreciate the model that you have just built, before adding it to your collection – perhaps a model car shelf?

Learn more about the benefits of building models.

Bird Watching

There are plenty of benefits of taking part in bird watching. Not only to you get to travel around the country, and potentially the world, but you also get to see some of the most desirable bird species on our planet.

Being outside is great for your mental well-being, as it generally improves your mood and provides you with a space to think. Bird watching is a great opportunity to reflect on your life, or to just zone out and think calming thoughts. Not only that, but your body will soak up vitamin D from the sun and breath in fresh air all day.

You’ll also benefit from an improvement in your reflexes and mental alertness. As a bird watcher, you need to be ready to pounce with your camera in order to capture that dream shot of the bird. A bird can be here and gone in the blink of an eye. Bird watchers need their brains to operate on many different levels to make sure they can pick up on any clues that a bird might be nearby.

Often, you’ll be walking for miles, or even climbing and hiking up mountains, to find a certain type of bird. Putting your body through this is a good cardiovascular workout, which is good for your heart.

Five benefits of taking up bird watching.

Pets

Looking after a pet can easily be seen a hobby idea. Having a pet can provide you with a friendly companion and someone to focus your energy on each day. Having a dog, for example, is great if you’re living alone as it will combat any feelings of boredom or loneliness.

Pets provide you with a sense of responsibility, you know that you need to feed them, take them for walks, clean their cage/living area and protect them from any potential dangers around the home and the outside world.

According to various studies, stroking a pet is thought to reduce the level of stress-related hormones in the blood, whilst stroking a dog can be comforting to both parties. When you stroke a dog, a hormone called oxytocin, linked to anxiety relief, is released.

Owning a pet can bring some fun and excitement back into your life.

Find out more about the benefits of owning a pet.

Travelling

Perhaps the most appealing of all our hobby ideas, why not take some time out from work or from daily life if you’re retired to see the world? The possibilities are endless when it comes to travelling, it really depends on your preferences and dreams.

Maybe head over the States and complete the Route 66 trail or go down under and visit the outback in Australia. Going travelling could help to tick off so many items on your bucket list.

Before you head anywhere make sure hat you’ve sorted out any insurance and vaccinations, and remember to keep your home secure whilst you’re away – don’t make it obvious over social media that you’re going away.

Read about the five locations we think you need to visit on your travels.

Community Groups

There is a huge risk of loneliness as people get older. Friends and family may move away and older people could face living alone. This is dangerous as loneliness can trigger health problems. Living alone can become quite upsetting and depressing.

Fortunately, there are many community groups out there, based on several different hobbies and interests. Some of the most common groups that can be found around the country include:

Arts & Crafts for beginners.
Board Game cafes and groups.
Exercise classes such as yoga.
Cooking classes for different levels of experience.
Coffee mornings.
Singing groups.
Dancing.
Book reading groups.

Joining a group like this can introduce older people to those who have the same interests. You can make new friends and fill your calendars with exciting activities and social events – perfect for maintaining a strong social network.

Five community groups that can combat loneliness.

Adult Learning

Like the community groups mentioned above, joining an adult learning course can also have great social benefits:

Meeting new people who have the same interests.
Sharing stories with new people.
Sharing advice and tips throughout the educational course.

Learning new skills at a college or university keeps the brain healthy. ‘Students’ constantly learn new things and try to solve puzzles as they try to understand and process new information. In fact, research by the Alzheimer’s Society showed that education delayed the onset of the disease, according to this report on The Guardian.

Much like cooking an amazing meal in the kitchen, learning a new skill and passing exams gives an amazing sense of achievement. Keeping busy and active is vital as the elderly try to combat loneliness and boredom.

Visit a local college or university website to see what courses are available.

Alternatively you can can look at the best course ideas chosen by us.

Have a hobby but stay safe

Whilst having a hobby or two is great, any activity comes with some risks attached. A personal alarm is the ideal solution and can give people a confidence boost that help will be there in an emergency. Our life-saving pendant works inside the home and in the garden.

For more information on purchasing a personal alarm, speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, visit our website or complete our contact us form and we will respond as soon as possible.

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