As we get older, our social circles tend to become smaller. This leaves many seniors at risk of loneliness and social isolation, which can negatively impact their physical and mental health. In fact, 30% of the elderly population in Malaysia either live alone or with their elderly spouse (compared to 14.7% in 2004), according to the 2014 National Population and Development Board Survey.
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 activities. We have curated a list of 21 senior-friendly activities from 6 categories: Arts & Crafts, Culture, Nature, Music, Fitness, and Cause-Related Activities.
Together with your loved ones, here are some ideas (or 20!) that you can do both in and out of home that are great for both the young and young at heart in the new year ahead.
Arts & Crafts
It is common knowledge that art benefits both the creator and the viewer. 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 the Arts.
1. Get creative at home
Stock up on some colour 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 from e-commerce platforms such as Shopee or DIY lantern ideas from Pinterest.
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 Me.reka Makerspace.
Out of Home
3. Sign up for an art workshop
Get hands-on with art. From canvas painting and calligraphy to pottery and knitting, there will definitely be one which appeals to your loved one. You can go to Craftiviti where one can take up soap-making, art pouring and even doll making.
4. Attend art festivals
For those who appreciate art, take part in themed art festivals happening all over Malaysia such as the annual Art Expo Malaysia, KL International Arts Festival, and the George Town Festival on the Penang island.
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 a mix of old school and new kid on the block 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 the Chinese Chess and Congkak available here. For a local twist, check out these card games from The Lepak Game and The Malaysian Dream. You can also level up to play with the latest devices for a fun-filled time with the younger ones on gaming consoles and challenge yourself with with brain-stimulating games on senior-friendly tablets.
Out of Home
6. Stroll along Heritage Trails
Soak up Malaysia’s glorious past and relive the good ol’ days by going for heritage trails in all the different states such as the The Ipoh Heritage Walk that will take you through the yesteryears of a former mining city. The oldest city in Malaysia filled with culinary delights and centuries old buildings, Melaka is a great place to explore on foot.
In Kuala Lumpur, there are many trails to choose from, covering areas like Merdeka Square, Chinatown, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Brickfields. Guide trails throughout Malaysia can be obtained online or through the Malaysian Tourist Information Centre (MaTiC).
7. Visit museums
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 the abundance of Malaysia’s lush tropical rainforests 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 wellbeing. 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 experience by growing edible plants at home with these few tips.
Out of Home
9. Spend some time with nature
Need a whiff of fresh air? Venture out of home for a walk on senior friendly nature trails such as Perdana Botanical Gardens and Penang Botanic Gardens and take some time to appreciate the wonders of nature.
10. Participate in nature workshops
We are no stranger 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 versions – radio and Spotify – work just as well. Create or hunt for a playlist and take a trip down memory lane with Elvis Presley, P Ramlee, 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!
Out of Home
Turn up the music and sing your heart out to familiar tunes from the ’50s and ‘60s! Gather your singing kakis for a karaoke session in your neighbourhood to relive the yesteryears of classic hits.
14. Learn to play an instrument
Express yourself through rhythm, beats and melodies. Community centres like YMCA offers harmonica lessons where you can be a novice musician in a heartbeat.
15. Go for a night out
Any night is always a good night to go for an orchestra to catch timeless classical pieces in action. Another great night out would be supporting local acts in a play or musical via klpac or penangpac to unleash your inner John Travolta or Idina Menzel.
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. If you would like a more comprehensive and personalised workout session, consider home physiotherapy.
Out of Home
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. Check out online communities who go on hiking treks or join your neighbourhood tai chi group in the park.
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. There are some facilities suited for seniors such as the first active ageing gym in Malaysia, Activ50s and Golden Age Senior Yoga.
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.
Out of Home
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 NGOs as listed in blogs like this and this.
20. 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. Deliver care to seniors in a variety of settings while earning some extra allowance too.
With the multitude of senior-friendly activities available in our country, there is bound to be something for everyone. Pick an activity from this list and engage your loved ones in meaningful activities in this new year ahead.