Activities For Nursing Home Residents

Whether you’re working in a nursing home or visiting family and loved ones in the one they reside in, it’s crucial that you remember just how important it is to be proactive in keeping these senior citizens physically engaged and mentally stimulated.

Not only will you be able to bring smiles to their faces, helping to improve their overall happiness and general well-being, as well as lowering the risk or symptoms of anxiety and depression, you’ll also be able to help them to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy.

However, if you’ve tried to think of suitable activities before, you’ll already know just how difficult this can be.

There are many beneficial and essential activities out there and today we’re going to explore all the ones you should be thinking about, as well as making sure you have all the information you need to make the right decisions in terms of safety and well-being.

Making Sure You Choose the Right Activities

First of all, before we jump into what activities are available, you need to make sure you understand what activities you should be considering. After all, if an individual is living in a care home, the chances are that they may need assistance or supervision with some activities, while others are ruled out altogether.

In short: You know the individual that you’re engaging with better than we do. If you’re in control of choosing what activities are going to be played, you need to make sure that you’re making the right decisions in regard to their abilities, their physical and mental capabilities and their desire to carry out a certain task or role.

When you’re choosing which tasks and activities to implement, make sure that you’re choosing them on an individual basis, matching the activities with the needs of the individual. You’ll also need to consider what activities will be the most beneficial.

Note: Some activities will be able to be enjoyed alone, whereas others will require a group commitment, so keep this in mind when you’re choosing groups and planning your activity sessions.

Physical Activities

Exercise is just as important to elderly people in a care home as it is to anybody of any generation. By keeping the body, and therefore the mind, active, you can help to promote positive well-being in your senior resident, and even reduce the risk of mental illnesses, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Senior sitting on park bench

Going for Walks

One of the easiest and most gentle types of exercise you can encourage your seniors to undertake is going on walks. You can do this around the nursing home or assisted living community, around the grounds, or even going for days out, as long as you’re organizing it.
This is a great way to keep your seniors engaged in the world they’re living in, providing them with fresh air, and the soft exercise they need for their physical and mental wellbeing. You can go on one-on-one walks with your seniors, or you can organize a group walk, both of which help to stimulate your senior’s social skills.

Exercise Class

While you’re not going to be training your seniors to compete in the Olympics, there are a ton of exercise classes you can organize providing many physical and mental benefits. For example, yoga is one of the most popular classes, as long as you’re bringing in an instructor who can run the session and is trained in the health and safety aspect of the practice.

Other engaging exercises include swimming, bowls or even fun games and activities, such as Hopscotch or an adapted version of cricket and tennis. Remember, in most cases, it’s not about the exercise itself, but more focused on the fact that your residents are having fun with what they’re doing.
Another great way to keep your elderly citizens moving is by investing in resistance bands. In short, these are basically oversized elastic bands that vary in strength. This way it doesn’t matter if they are sitting or standing, they can stretch out their muscles and keep them engaged.

An elderly couple having a dance


Who doesn’t love to dance? Whether you’re organizing a special event, such as a themed night, or even just playing music throughout the day, you can get your seniors up on their feet to enjoy a little boogie at any time of the day or night. Dancing provides physical exercise and doesn’t have to be rigorous to be beneficial.

This is a great way to let seniors have control in the activity they’re engaged with, such as being able to pick their own music, while bringing everyone together to share in the sense of positive community.

Adapted Sports

There are countless sports games out there that people of all ages can enjoy. When it comes to elderly people, there’s no reason why you can’t adapt these sports to suit their physical well-being. For example, tennis can be converted into a simple game of table tennis. Football can be changed to simply walking football.

The list goes on and on. You know the physical and mental capacities of the residents in your nursing home better than anyone, so make sure you’re mindful when it comes to choosing and adapting the sport to suit your own their abilities.

Brain Activities for Nursing Home Residents

Just as important as physical exercise is making sure that you stimulate the brain of your residents. These activities are vital as you can help to keep their minds engaged, the overall sense of well-being and happiness high and you can even fight the signs, risk, and symptoms of mental health conditions such as dementia.

Jigsaw Puzzle Games

Jigsaw puzzles have been popular with all generations for decades, and it still remains one of the most beneficial activities to this day. These puzzles can be enjoyed on an individual basis or as part of a group and can take many hours to complete.

There is a range of jigsaws that exist varying in difficulty, so you can easily find one that will suit the mental capacities of your residents. Not only can this promote a social aspect in everybody involved, but also helps to improve their memory functions and cognitive abilities.

Quiz Sessions

Hosting a quiz in your nursing home is easily one of the most fun and enjoyable activity you can put on due to the fact that everyone can get involved and there are limitless possibilities when it comes to themes and topics.

One of the more popular themes is ‘Guess this Song’ where you can play a sample of a track that your nursing home residents are going to know. You could guess the next lyrics, the artist, the song name or even the year it came out. This is a great way to stimulate the memory functions of their minds, helping you to fight off the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Some other quiz subjects you can experiment with include movies the nursing home has recently watched, topical news, general knowledge, ‘Throwback’ knowledge or even books if you happen to have a book circle going.

Tablet and other technology for elderly

Technology Apps

There are a wide range of brain training apps out there available on computers and laptops, tablets and smartphone devices.

While some apps are designed for general brain training, a quick online search can reveal many elderly-orientated platforms that are designed for senior citizens.

Using apps and technology is a great way to introduce seniors to a variety of topics, platforms, and activities they might enjoy, as well as giving them the opportunity to experiment what technology can offer.

This is so important in this modern age as many devices are designed to help people live the best life they can. With regular interactions with technology, seniors can feel a lot more engaged with the society they’re living in, as well as all the benefits that certain brain training applications can provide.

In some cases, you may even want to host ‘training days’ where you can teach your seniors how to use these devices to the best of their abilities. This practice comes with the obvious advantages of stimulating their minds and improving their cognitive functions and hand-eye coordination.

Seasonal Activities

There are so many nursing home ideas you can implement through the year that match certain festive periods or special days. This is a fantastic way to bring your nursing home residents together, employing a sense of community while providing all the benefits that are listed below.

Christmas/New Year

Probably the most popular holiday season, there are many activities you can give a try. From designing and creating Christmas cards or Christmas tree decorations to baking Christmas related food and even hosting a Christmas party with treats, decorations, and music.

Any craft activities provide notable cognitive benefits and can be achieved individually or as a group. Baking and art activities all provide mentally stimulating benefits and increase the overall happiness of each nursing home resident.

For some residents, this holiday may also hold a religious connection so they might enjoy dedicated praying sessions and other religious-themed activities.

Veteran and his wife celebrating Veterans Day

Veteran Day Celebration

Veteran Day could be one of the most popular and important days through the year for some of the residents in your nursing home which is why it’s so important that you celebrate it. In some cases, some of the residents may have even played an active military role which makes it even more crucial that you take note of this day to help them feel appreciated.

In terms of activity ideas, the most obvious event would be to host a party or celebratory afternoon which is dedicated to celebrating this day and remembering those who have given their lives. In many cases, you may even want to collect the affected resident to see how they want to celebrate so you can make the event even more personal to them.

If you live close to a base, you could contact your local VA to send a current military soldier or veteran to come and give a talk to your seniors, or to listen to their own stories.

Other important details to remember include wearing a poppy and hosting a minute’s silence throughout the day. You may also want to consider celebrating the 4th July period with fireworks or even a bonfire, if possible.

Easter Weekend

Another extremely popular holiday you can celebrate that provide plenty of activity opportunities is Easter Weekend. Most notably, the best activity here is an Easter Hunt around the nursing home and grounds. Simply hide the eggs in different locations and send people out in groups to see who can find the most.

The winning group can then win an Easter-related prize. Remember to keep the competition friendly and light-hearted, so everyone can enjoy a positive experience. Like the Christmas season, you can also include a number of arts and crafts ideas such as creating Easter themed cards and decorations for the nursing home.

Baking special Easter treats is also another popular activity you can include and simply sitting down and watching an Easter-related film can be a winning combination of activities.

Group of seniors enjoying Thanksgiving celebrations

Thanksgiving Day

The final popular festive period you’ll want to celebrate is Thanksgiving. Of course, this means lots of food and group activities where everybody can sit around a table to converse with one another and enjoy a specially cooked meal.

Some of the residents may even be able to help with the cooking and baking beforehand, another great way to keep them engaged, although mental and physical capabilities will need to be considered first. Other activities include making decorations and cards to their loved ones and other people in the nursing home, regardless of whether they’re staff or residents.

All of the festive periods above are an excellent way to bring everybody in your nursing home together to encourage an essential sense of community and increase feelings of happiness and overall well-being.