As we get older, our social circles tend to become smaller. This leaves many seniors at risk of loneliness, social isolation, and geriatric depression, which can negatively impact their physical and mental health. The prevalence of suicides among Singaporeans aged 70 and above stands at 24.06 per 100,000 individuals, a figure that is far above the average of 8.91 suicides per 100,000 individuals when taking all age groups into account.
As caregivers, we play a key role in supporting the well-being of our loved ones, both in the mind and body. One way is through recreational activities. We have curated a list of 21 senior-friendly activities from 6 categories: arts & crafts, culture, nature, music, fitness, and cause-related activities which your loved one can enjoy.
Together with your loved ones, participate in these activities that you can do both in and out of home to boost your health and happiness.
It is common knowledge that art benefits both the creator and the viewer. Studies have shown that Singaporean seniors who are engaged with the arts tend to enjoy a better quality of life and experience a greater sense of holistic well-being. Suitable for the young and old, getting creative together is great for intergenerational bonding too! Here’s how you can engage your loved ones with craft-related activities.
1. Get creative at home
Stock up on some coloured pencils, paintbrushes, and colouring books from your nearest bookstore and have some therapeutic fun while colouring and painting! Add a hint of nostalgia with batik painting kits or DIY lanterns from e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Qoo10.
2. Start an upcycling project
Get creative while saving the earth. Instead of disposing of plastic bottles and used jars, turn them into useful pieces in your home garden or festive decorations! Get inspired by organisations such as Terra SG.
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3. Sign up for an art workshop
Source: Buvenasvari Pragasam | ChannelNewsAsia
Get hands-on with art. There are several different types of art workshops for seniors that you can choose from. Organisations such as Solace and Artisan Han’s also offer various art therapy programmes. Solace Art Psychotherapy, in particular, consists of registered art therapists who are experienced in working with seniors with dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other medical conditions. From canvas painting and calligraphy to pottery and knitting, there will definitely be one which appeals to your loved one.
4. Attend art festivals
For those who appreciate art, take part in themed art festivals happening on our sunny island. With events such as the Silver Arts Festival organised by National Arts Council and A Date with Friends held at the Esplanade annually, immerse in music, dance and film from the past till the present.
Did you know that reminiscence can improve cognitive function and behaviour? Take a trip down memory lane through interactions with places and objects.
5. Play old school games
Go back in time as you and your loved ones engage in a nostalgic game of 5 stones, pick-up sticks, as well as traditional games like Chinese Chess and Congkak available here. For a local twist, check out games from Hua Hee and KYDZ. Many of these brain-stimulating games can also be found on popular gaming consoles and free online platforms like Solitaire.
SilverActivities has also created SilverPad, a senior-friendly tablet where the elderly can independently watch shows, play music, and stay engaged with their custom-built cognitive games. They also provide free digital games and printable activities for seniors. The best part is – all of these are available in our local languages!
Out of home
6. Stroll along Monument Trail
Learn and reminisce about Singapore’s heritage as you start the trail from the mouth of the Singapore River which was once the heart of Singapore’s commercial activity and entrepôt trade. Along the way, be greeted by iconic landmarks that tell the story of Singapore, before ending at the War Memorial Park.
7. Visit Singapore’s museums
Did you know that Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) can get free entry to more than 8 museums in Singapore? Catch a glimpse of the past as you go museum-hopping with your loved ones!
Source: National Museum of Singapore
Plus, the National Museum of Singapore now has a dedicated social space for seniors, which encourages them to participate in group activities, conversations, and reminisce with music and the arts.
Besides being a mood booster, exposure to green spaces has been proven to lower our risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. Get closer to nature in our garden city with these activities.
8. Pick up gardening
Gardening can bring a host of health benefits by keeping us physically active, giving us a sense of purpose and improving our mental well-being. Encourage your loved one to pick up gardening at home, or better yet, turn it into a social activity and participate in community gardens in the neighbourhood. You can also have your very own farm-to-table by growing edible plants at home.
Out of home
9. Spend some time with nature
Need a whiff of fresh air? Venture out of your home for a walk on these senior-friendly nature trails and take some time to appreciate the wonders of nature.
10. Participate in nature workshops
From floral arrangements to DIY terrariums, there is something for everyone. For a truly local experience, sign up for a nature workshop by homegrown Edible Garden City. Each session includes a walk around the barrier-free accessible farm in Queenstown, followed by light exercises, before ending with a thematic hands-on activity led by the horticulture therapy-trained educators.
We are no strangers to the magic of music. Besides bringing joy, providing comfort and evoking memories from the past, it also improves physical, cognitive and emotional health.
11. Listen to the classics
Feel young again grooving to the classics! It may not be easy to find vinyl and cassette players anymore, but their modern descendants – radio and Spotify – work just as well. Create or hunt for a playlist and take a trip down memory lane with Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye or the Beatles. Old is gold!
12. Guess the song
Spice things up with a memory game! Play a tune and try to recall the song’s title – fastest person wins. You can even have your own Music Bingo to play with your loved ones!
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14. Learn to play an instrument
Express yourself through rhythm, beats and melodies. Community centres now offer a variety of musical instrument courses for the aspiring musician. Select a musical instrument and attend a class today.
15. Join a Silent Disco
Throwback to the ‘70s and get grooving with Silent Disco! Have a blast and sweat it out while jamming out to songs from the past with your friends.
It is widely known that staying active is beneficial to both our physical and mental health. Here are some fun ways to keep fit and make exercising more enjoyable and feel less like a chore.
16. Keep fit at home
Build up your strength, flexibility and endurance to prevent falls and improve your overall wellbeing. Doing simple stretches and bodyweight exercises for just 30 minutes a day, several times a week can make a difference. Most importantly, find an exercise that’s most suitable for you and that you’re comfortable with. Remember to always listen to your body and stop if you’re experiencing pain. If you would like a more comprehensive and personalised workout session, consider home physiotherapy.
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17. Join an exercise group
Working out in a group can boost motivation and make exercising all the more fun! Whether you are looking to sweat it out or simply wish to engage in light exercises, there is something for everyone. Get in touch with online communities such as Team Strong Silver and Gym Tonic, or check out the activities at the active ageing hub closest to your home.
18. Attend fitness classes
Build up your fitness with a certified trainer by signing up for regular workout classes. Make it a goal to try out as many forms of exercises as possible and find out what you like best! Do remember to inform the instructor of any past injuries.
If you are looking to stay physically, mentally and socially active in the community, why not do it for a good cause? Here are some activities you can participate in while contributing back to society.
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19. Start volunteering
Give back to society by volunteering for a cause you believe in. Besides helping others, volunteering is beneficial to ourselves too by helping us stay connected with society and giving us a sense of satisfaction and purpose. Stay up to date on the volunteering opportunities available by joining RSVP or searching online.
20. Walk for a cause
Support meaningful causes while staying active by participating in annual walkathons or discovery walks organised by ActiveSG. Suitable for all ages, join as a family for an intergenerational day of fun!
21. Befriend fellow seniors
If you are looking for an activity that can make a direct impact on people’s lives, consider being a befriender with Homage or the various community organisations here. Deliver care to seniors in a variety of settings while earning some extra allowance too.
With the multitude of senior-friendly activities available on our little red dot, there is bound to be something for everyone. Pick an activity from this list and engage your loved ones in meaningful activities today.
- 5 Benefits of Exercise for Seniors and Aging Adults. (2019). Retrieved 22 December 2019, from https://thegreenfields.org/5-benefits-exercise-seniors-aging-adults/
- Cacioppo, J., & Cacioppo, S. (2013). Older adults reporting social isolation or loneliness show poorer cognitive function 4 years later. Evidence Based Nursing, 17(2), 59-60. doi: 10.1136/eb-2013-101379
- Cherry, K. (2019). How Does Art Therapy Work for Patients?. Retrieved 22 December 2019, from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-art-therapy-2795755
- It’s official — spending time outside is good for you. (2018). Retrieved 22 December 2019, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm
- Mahmud, A. (2018). Number of elderly suicides at all-time high: SOS. Retrieved 22 December 2019, from https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/suicides-elderly-singapore-all-time-high-sos-10565002
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- Wong, C. (2017). Involvement in arts helps elderly enjoy a better quality of life: Study. Retrieved 22 December 2019, from https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/involvement-artshelps-elderly-enjoy-better-quality-life-study
- Yen, H., & Lin, L. (2018). A Systematic Review of Reminiscence Therapy for Older Adults in Taiwan. Journal Of Nursing Research, 26(2), 138-150. doi: 10.1097/jnr.0000000000000233