Hobbies for Older Patients: Why They’re Important


Article Categories: Activities of Daily Living & Other



Many older patients experience pain, isolation, and loneliness at some point, and these experiences can have ill effects on health. Having lots of free time after retirement, having health issues, and experiencing empty nest syndrome- all in one basket - the combination distinctly spells boredom! This situation can spiral down quickly to more harmful consequences.

A hobby gives a sense of purpose and achievement. It can also enable one to socialize and foster a sense of belonging. Hobbies can enrich a person’s life by providing opportunities to live a more active and productive lifestyle. Doing something enjoyable can keep patients physically and mentally alert, too.

Nursing assistants can help patients embrace leisure or recreational activities and live a more quality life even with existing health conditions.

Before suggesting a hobby to your patient, know their interests and preferences, and also their physical limitations. Encourage activities that involve socialization. Staying connected with others improves cardiovascular health and immunity. It fosters will-to-live and reduces the risk of death.

Do not hesitate to introduce them to an activity outside of their interests, though. They may find inspiration to try something new out of their comfort zones. Also, you may need to discuss with your supervisor which hobby is safe to suggest to your patients before introducing one to them.

Hobbies for older patients

1. Games.

Playing games is not only for kids. It’s for everyone. Indoor games such as card and board games improve memory and help prevent Alzheimer's disease and its progression. These activities stimulate the brain and preserve its functions. It also helps with fine movements such as moving pieces or shuffling cards.

On the other hand, outdoor games need lots of vigorous body movements. They improve physical strength and stamina. These activities enhance blood circulation and prevent loss of muscle mass. They have the same benefits as exercise but are much more fun to do!

When suggesting hobbies, keep in mind that patients with more serious health problems must consult first with their physician before participating in strenuous activities.

People with high blood pressure and high blood sugar and those with heart conditions must exercise extreme caution when going into sports. Both indoor and outdoor games encourage socialization that works against depression, anxiety, and stress.

A CNA like you can also suggest online games that they can play on their mobile phones and other gadgets. Although this activity does not require much physical effort, it still provides the mental stimulation that older patients need. Help them choose online games that improve memory, problem-solving skills, and speed.

Older people can also benefit from games that mimic movements in bowling, tennis, golf, and even boxing. You also let them try games that help them maintain a healthy weight and improve their balance and strength.

2. Arts and crafts.

Just like games, arts and crafts as hobbies for older people can also prevent memory loss. These activities are highly beneficial because they encourage self-expression. Hobbies such as painting, crocheting, and scrapbooking can show the artistic side of the patient. They release tension as well while keeping them busy with a purpose. Their artwork also serves as a conversation starter. Ask about the details and what they mean. They'll be more than happy to explain it to you.

3. Reading.

Older people who are introverts, or those who are more focused on their thoughts and ideas instead of on what's happenings in the outside world, will greatly benefit from reading as a hobby. All you have to do is introduce them to a good book.

If paperbacks are hard to find, you may help them look for digital copies on their phones. Reading apps such as Kindle and Wattpad can enable easy reading without external light. Books can provide older people with enough stimulation through imagination.

4. Cooking and baking.

If a patient has access to a kitchen and ingredients, meal preparation can become enjoyable. To entice them to start, ask for their secret recipe and try to make a version of it yourself. You'll be surprised when they ask you to step aside so that they can demonstrate the 'right way' of doing it. Constantly ask for their 'advice' to keep the interest going.

5. Photography.

The good thing about photography is that it can be enjoyed individually or as a group. Taking pictures is an immersing creative activity that could be fun and motivating at the same time.

Capturing special moments or unique images on camera can trigger a sense of achievement. This hobby can preserve memorable experiences as digital copies and hard copy prints. Photography and scrapbooking can go together for a more wholesome accomplishment.

6. Gardening.

For patients who have a garden to tend to, growing plants and flowers can be an utterly satisfying hobby. Gardening involves nurturing and constant care of plants. Enthusiasts would need a lot of patience as the rewards come later when seeds sprout, flowers bloom, or fruits appear. Needless to say, gardening fuels a patient's will to live.

Older patients are accomplished people. Even without realizing it, they are looking for reasons to keep on living. Having a hobby will meet many of their health needs. CNAs should support patients when they start one.

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