The elderly are generally more at risk of developing severe health conditions than young adults, but that doesn’t mean seniors cannot or shouldn’t lead active, exciting lives. With many of us restricted to our homes, virtual activities have replaced many traditional hobbies and tasks. But what virtual activities can seniors do to have fun and feel more connected?
Great virtual activities for seniors will depend on their comfort level, electronic devices, and interests. Some of the most popular virtual activities for seniors include museum tours, armchair concert nights, and dance challenges.
In this article, let’s examine some of the best virtual activities for seniors while also delving into their potential benefits and drawbacks. If you or someone you know is having a hard time with things, these activities and events could be just the thing to push the gray clouds away and welcome brighter, happier times.
Benefits of Engaging in Senior-Friendly Virtual Activities
You may wonder if senior-friendly virtual activities are worth the hassle. To be fair, elderly individuals with a healthy distrust (or unhealthy distrust) of modern technology may find it more challenging to get comfortable with online games, hobbies, and activities.
Usually, a little guidance and a lot of patience can help solve this issue. Once folks leap the initial technology hurdle, there are quite a few benefits to be had and enjoyed. Some of the most notable of these benefits include:
- Lessened feelings of loneliness
- Reduced risk of depression
- A more positive outlook
- Improved physical health
The specific benefits associated with a virtual activity are bound to differ. For example, online trivia nights can help seniors socialize, engage their brains, and work together in teams. If prizes are involved, participants may also experience some friendly competition.
Conversely, a virtual vacation is all about relaxing, observing, and daydreaming. It’s also an online activity that’s primarily focused on the individual, not the group. As such, virtual excursions to foreign lands might not be the best activity for socialization, even if it’s a great way to keep the mind busy and the creative spirit alive.
Naturally, many seniors face potential issues when working with modern electronic devices. These pesky problems could make it tricky to enjoy online hobbies and tasks. Understanding the problems that may arise is the first step toward solving them.
Potential Issues That May Arise When Getting Seniors More Engaged With Virtual Activities
As you can see, there are quite a few potential benefits when it comes to getting seniors more engaged and involved with virtual activities. However, there are also a few potential issues that may arise.
Preparing for these problems can help lessen their intensity and ensure a reliable, quick resolution. For example, a senior may struggle with online hobbies and activities due to:
- Loss of internet connection
- Difficulty operating electronic devices
- Fear of new things
Once you’ve recognized that these factors could inhibit an older person’s enjoyment of virtual activities, you can take steps to prevent or prepare for them. Internet connection, for example, is something that a service provider maintains.
Inclement weather or unexpected electrical failures could result in temporarily suspended internet service. Service technicians are responsible for fixing this problem, and there’s not much that the average person can do to speed this process up or prevent it from happening.
How to Avoid Common Problems Associated With Virtual Activities for Seniors
Accidents are bound to happen, and some things are plainly out of anyone’s control. However, there are many steps that family members, friends, care workers, and seniors can take to avoid many of the frustrating issues associated with virtual activities.
Losing one’s internet connection is something that is most challenging to overcome. A quick call to your internet provider may help clear things up and restore the service.
The primary issues that most seniors will face when attempting to join online activities are difficulties operating their electronic devices. The Baby Boomer population (with a median age of 64) grew up with very different forms of technology than what we have available today.
Additionally, eyesight and dexterity tend to worsen as we age, and many pieces of modern tech aren’t designed for these physical limitations. When trying to operate a tiny smartphone, it’s easy for a senior to become quickly frustrated and overwhelmed by the touchscreen, the operating system, or the small buttons.
Ensuring that the device has accessibility options enabled could make a huge difference. Many tablets, phones, and laptops now come with larger text, less sensitive touch capabilities, and much more.
An extended tutorial and practice session might also help put seniors at ease and lessen fears surrounding new technologies. Before offering new activities or engaging in online fun, take the time to familiarize yourself with your device’s basic controls, commands, and features. Patience and a sense of adventure are vital!
Now that you’re familiar with some of the benefits of senior-friendly virtual activities (as well as some of their potential drawbacks), you can begin browsing our top picks for the best digital hobbies and tasks to keep seniors healthy and happy. Enjoy!
Many of us miss going out to the local theatre or concert hall and enjoying live music. The thrill of donning your prettiest dress or tidiest suit, heading out onto the town, and enjoying the soul-stirring sounds of an orchestra is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life.
However, as safety restrictions continue to limit the amount of in-person patrons any concert hall might receive, the opportunities to go out and enjoy live music seem to dwindle. Still, you don’t have to defer to records or digital recordings to enjoy Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, or Chopin.
Many music venues are happily broadcasting weekly performances that you can tune into from the comfort of your armchair and electronic device. Additionally, some of our day’s most notable composers offer live performances to fans and viewers across multiple platforms, including Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook Live, and YouTube.
Billboard currently keeps an updated list of virtual concerts that online patrons can peruse. These events are organized via date, making it possible for seniors to schedule special concert nights. Why not take the time to get spiffy and make a night of it?
While you might not be able to leave your home or facility, you may be able to enjoy a light wine or sparkling juice with your entertainment. Afterward, you can set out for your first virtual vacation.
Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go but never been able to? Perhaps you’ve always longed to explore the canals of Venice, tasting rich Italian coffees and strolling streetside markets for limited-time deals. Or, maybe your tastes run a little more rustic. Do the black sand beaches of isolated Iceland seem to call out to you?
Thanks to modern media and technology, you can travel virtually anywhere in the world (and many parts of the solar system) without ever leaving your comfiest chair. To get started, you only need to choose a destination. Where in the world would you most like to go right now if you could snap your fingers and suddenly appear there?
Once you have a spot in mind, you can begin planning your vacation. Because this will be a virtual excursion, you don’t need to worry about prices. To prepare for your digital trip, you’ll want to check out local hotels, attractions, landmarks, restaurants, and parks in the area.
Many hotels offer virtual room showings that make you feel like you are walking through opulent guest rooms and dining halls. Additionally, Google Maps allows users to view streetside views, ensuring that parks, landmarks, and other outdoor attractions are easily visible from your device. Of course, genuinely immersive experiences require you to use all of your senses.
If possible, order or prepare a dish native to your destination. Try watching as many walking tour videos of your destination as you can find, like this one:
Listen to music that is popular at your chosen vacation spot. Consider reaching out to the local community via online forums to make distant friends and learn more about other cultures. You’re bound to have a blast!
With experience and age come wisdom. Seniors have a ton of knowledge to share with the world, and trivia nights on Skype or Zoom could be ideal for sharing some of this information. Older individuals with tight-knit friend groups might decide their own trivia subjects and questions and take turns hosting various trivia nights.
Alternatively, seniors could opt to play with family members or strangers. The Random Trivia Generator is an excellent resource for questions, and it offers a great selection of trivia categories. Those living in assisted living communities or facilities may encourage the staff to begin a socially distanced trivia night.
One of the best aspects of hosting or participating in a virtual trivia night is teamwork. By pairing up with others, you can pool your knowledge and win prizes or bragging rights. Amazon Gift Cards and digital gift cards are fantastic, spendable trophies. Should you decide to go all-out, you can even design and order specialized team t-shirts just for the occasion.
School isn’t only for the young. We never really stop learning, but our brains can become a little foggy if we aren’t actively challenging ourselves to learn new things. There are hundreds of free online courses and educational resources that seniors could use to keep themselves informed, educated, and mentally active.
Khan Academy has a user-friendly design that older individuals may gravitate toward. This resource also offers thousands of lessons on a wide array of subjects, including math, history, language, and life skills. Still, most of the courses found here are very simple. They may be remedial for some learners.
The edX site offers far more higher-learning courses. Some of the lectures, programs, and classes available here come from Harvard, Stanford, and Berkeley. Naturally, many other renowned institutions offer free educational media via edX. You can study everything from online learning techniques and proper dietary skills to computer programming and US history.
Because free digital classes don’t come with time-sensitive homework, quizzes, or exams, there’s no pressure to get all of your studying done quickly. One of the beautiful aspects of online learning is that it occurs at any pace. Take your time, and learn something new today!
Online Exercise Routines
You don’t need a gym or a football arena’s worth of space to stay fit and healthy. With thousands of online exercise routines and workouts to choose from, you could be learning a vast array of exercises and skills while you tone and maintain your body.
Low-intensity workout routines and seated exercises tend to be relatively safe for seniors. Of course, individuals will need to practice activities that are within their comfort level. Consulting with a physician can help you choose the best possible routines for your body and fitness level.
Working out for 30 minutes each day could help you feel more energized, focused, and positive. When your body is feeling great, your mind is sure to follow. Exercise is a crucial solution to short-term feelings of loneliness, depression, or lethargy.
Besides, a body that can move without strain and excess pain is more likely to succeed at fun dance challenges.
Age is just a number, and often, perceiving ourselves as ‘old’ is partially what makes us feel that way. Engaging in popular children’s activities is a fantastic way to keep yourself feeling youthful and spirited.
Dance challenges could be a great way to cut loose, shake a tailfeather, and enjoy some virtual time with friends and family members. Seniors that have learned to use TikTok may already be familiar with the many types of dance challenges and crazes that seem to shift with the passing days and weeks.
If you’re new to this concept, then you only need to understand a few basic principles.
- Dance challenges require you to film yourself dancing.
- The dancer should do their best to imitate the dance moves while also having fun and adding their personality to things.
- It’s okay to make mistakes or get goofy.
The next time your grandchildren challenge you to a dance-off, why not accept and bust some cool moves? When you do, you’ll have quite the story to share with old peers, classmates, and buddies.
When was the last time you reached out to high school classmates, college buddies, or old coworkers? If you can’t remember the last time you enjoyed an old-fashioned reunion, you may be overdue for one.
Getting everyone together in the same place can be expensive, time-consuming, and risky. An online get-together is bound to be far more comfortable and more enjoyable. Why not dig through that old address book and see how the old gang is doing?
At worst, you’ll end up remembering a few buried-yet-cherished memories and sharing some laughs. At best, you’ll end up spending hours having endless fun with Zoom background, filter effects, and friends. What’s there to lose?
Virtual Cooking Classes
People who love to cook tend to enjoy learning new dishes. If you’ve never learned how to cook before, then participating in a virtual cooking class could be an uplifting experience. Either way, online cooking courses offer seniors the chance to try something new and taste something delicious.
If you’re typically awake at 8 am, you might want to start making a habit of watching the Borough Market’s live feeds. The chefs who share their techniques and skills via this Instagram feed are amazingly gifted. You might not be able to replicate what these folks do precisely, but watching them work may inspire you.
Once you’re ready to get messy and get cooking, you can select your preferred virtual cooking instructor. Joe the Baker is quite a popular choice, primarily thanks to his can-do attitude and delicious baked goods tutorials.
While our brains seem to learn language most fluidly when we’re young, that doesn’t mean that we’re ever too old to learn a new language. Many adults have successfully learned new languages through consistent practice and exposure. If you’ve wanted to learn French since the 1970s, why not try learning it now?
There are quite a few free learning apps, games, and programs that can help you succeed. One of the most popular options is Duolingo, which offers users hundreds of free language lessons. The simple design is easy to master, and seniors with tablets or large smartphones may enjoy Duolingo more than other options.
If you’re willing to pay for a slightly more solid language-learning experience, you could choose Rosetta Stone or Babbel. Both are highly rated programs that offer reading, writing, comprehension, listening, and speaking skill development for hundreds of languages. There’s no need to rush yourself to get it all done in one day.
Becoming fluent in a foreign tongue takes time, patience, and practice. Be willing to make mistakes and take chances! When you feel confident enough to start understanding simple, compound sentences in your new language, try picking up a book in that language. You might not be able to read it very well, but that’s how you began learning your native tongue, right?
Are you taking the time to enjoy a good book every once and a while? If not, you might be missing out on the simple pleasure of reading. Joining an online reading community or book club could help you get back into the habit while also allowing you to connect with others.
You could create a local book club that meets virtually on Zoom every week, or you could become a member of a much larger national club. The Book of the Month sends out books each month, and it could be a smart choice for those willing to enter into a subscription plan.
Book Riot also offers virtual community reading events that allow participants to vote on potential books for the quarter. It also ensures that readers participate in discussions, polls, and video chats about the material. If you’re keen on socializing about the material, this might be a better selection.
Some of us get more excited about upcoming museum exhibits than the weekend ballgame. If you’re someone who enjoys visiting the local museum or art gallery, social distancing and lockdown regulations may have been a massive bummer.
You might be longing for the peculiarly bookish scent of your favorite museum’s hallways or the oddly gleaming eyes of your favorite taxidermied museum resident. Truthfully, your local museum might not be able to give you all of those small treasures via virtual means.
Still, you might be surprised to find out that many of your most beloved exhibits and archaeological treasures are on a digital display. Some of the world’s most prestigious and famous museums have virtual exhibits that you can explore.
When you couple these virtual offerings with audio walkthroughs and smartly edited video tours, it’s almost better than actually being there. After all, there aren’t any lines to queue through, and you’re allowed unlimited snacks.
An individual’s relationship with God may be quite personal, but communities that worship together often form tight social bonds. When these bonds are relaxed due to social distancing, health fears, and related issues, the people involved in those communities can feel depressed.
Seniors that are no longer capable of attending in-person religious services can opt to participate in virtual ones. Not only do many religious leaders host live streaming services throughout the week, but some local chapters may also host Zoom meetings with local members.
The best option for you depends on your religious beliefs and denomination. Christ Church Philadelphia offers a variety of Christian services that are live-streamed via YouTube. Central Synagogue provides regular services to viewers of the Jewish faith. Catholics are bound to find comfort in the virtual Holy Mass ceremonies streamed across the world.
The Islamic Center of America also offers a database of live streams for worshippers hoping to pray from home. No matter your religion or creed, there’s a place for you within a welcoming virtual community.
Taking care of your mental health has never been more critical than it is now. Seniors living in assisted living communities or on their own may not feel as though they can confide fully in friends, family members, or staff. In this case, an impartial ear could be the best solution.
Online therapy is a beautiful way to share some of your fears, anxieties, hopes, and dreams without feeling like you’re burdening friends and family with such thoughts. Unfortunately, a lack of familiarity with current electronic devices has prevented many seniors from taking advantage of online therapy options.
With a little guidance, patience, and help, seniors can enjoy the same virtual resources as younger folks. Digital therapy is often only a click, touch, or quick type away. Many healthcare professionals offer virtual check-in sessions via Skype or Zoom, and seniors can also access helpful apps like Talkspace, BetterHelp, and MDLIVE to seek counseling and professional help.
Each day is worth living. It’s easy to lose sight of this simple truth if you’re feeling depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed by the world around you. While it might not always be possible for our seniors to celebrate significant holidays with beloved family members and friends, that doesn’t mean that the party should stop.
Because none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow, it is crucial to remember to celebrate today. If you find yourself struggling to think of something to celebrate, you can always refer to any one of the annual holiday lists. There’s a peculiar joy that comes with treating each day as its own celebration.
Additionally, alternative holidays may soften the blow of not spending significant holidays with family members. Older folks feeling blue on Valentine’s Day might be pleased to discover that February 14th is also National Donor Day. Instead of moping about not having a date, you might be able to schedule a brief and safe blood donation.
The sense of self-fulfillment and pride that comes from doing something meaningfully positive is impossible to replace. With February 15th being National Gumdrop Day, you could reward yourself with something sweet the next day.
Indeed, taking the time to celebrate every passing day could help seniors feel more connected, aware, and happy to be alive.
Seniors that engage in virtual activities may feel less isolated, more alive, and happier than ever. The benefits of online tasks and hobbies extend beyond the mental and emotional realm. These activities may also positively impact physical health.
Seniors who decide to become more active online may experience some initial feelings of frustration as they become more comfortable with their devices. Once they’re comfortable, the sky’s the limit! Seniors can take virtual trips, learn to cook new dishes, and even attend helpful therapy sessions from the comfort and security of their home. What new thing will you try today?
- Amazon: Amazon.com eGift Card
- Family Doctor: Exercise and Seniors
- Babbel: Which language do you want to speak?
- BetterHelp: We’ll match you to a counselor that can help with…
- Billboard: Here Are All the Livestreams & Virtual Concerts to Watch During Coronavirus Crisis (Updating)
- Book of the Month: Treat your shelf to a book subscription.
- Book Riot: The Epic Group Read
- Central Synagogue: Live Streaming At Central Synagogue
- Christ Church Philadelphia: Weekly Worship Live
- Dance Dispatches: Fun Dance Challenges 2020: Covid-19 Edition
- Duolingo: Register
- edX: Courses
- Facebook: Joe the Baker
- Google: Google Sky
- HubSpot: How to Use TikTok: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Instagram: BoroughMarket
- Institute of Aging: Virtual Senior Centers Provide Valuable Opportunities to Socialize
- Islamic Center of America: Live Streams – ICA
- Khan Academy: Signup
- Mass-online.org: Daily Holy Mass live online
- MDLIVE: Home Page
- MobiHealthNews: Study finds older adults can benefit from digital therapy
- National Today: National Gumdrop Day – February 15, 2021
- The New York Times: Now Virtual and in Video, Museum Websites Shake Off the Dust
- Random Trivia Generator: Home Page
- Revfine: VR Hotel Tour; 10 Amazing Examples of Virtual Reality Hotel Tours
- Rosetta Stone: Learn a new language
- Talkspace: Online Therapy
- Travel + Leisure: Stuck at Home? These 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours You Can Take on Your Couch (Video)
- VerywellMind: Digital Divide Could Make Online Therapy Less Accessible to Seniors
- YouTube: Prowalk Tours