If you have limited mobility from joint pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, a neurological disease, after an accident or fall, or the kind that often comes with age, you may be bored out of your mind. There’s only so much daytime TV one can consume. Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up nine fun and entertaining hobbies that also happen to be beneficial for you.
Visual art includes adult coloring books, drawing, painting, water coloring, paint-by-number, sculpture, and photography. In “Make More Art: The Health Benefits of Creativity” Huffington Post contributor James Clear writes about the “physical and mental benefits from creating art, expressing yourself in a tangible way, and sharing something with the world.” Much of the article is based on a review entitled The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health, published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2010, which notes that “Art helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words.” The review of current literature available on the subject finds that “Art can be a refuge from the intense emotions associated with illness.” As you can see, there are many reasons to channel your inner artist.
Another art form that those with mobility issues can take up as a hobby is textile arts. This includes sewing, knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, crocheting, weaving, and macramé. Local churches, hospitals, and charities often have projects that older adults can contribute to that benefit others like creating blankets or hats for the needy.
Another fun thing to sew is “fidget” quilts and toys. According to Home Care Assistance, “People with limited mobility sometimes need to find new ways to release their energy, and fidgeting is one of them.” Fidget quilts feature buttons, ribbons, snaps, zippers, and different textures to provide touch-based sensory input that reduces anxiety, calms nerves, and provides comfort.
Puzzles & Games
Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and sudoku are inexpensive and provide hours of entertainment. Nonograms, also known as Picross or Griddlers, are a “brain game” you may not have heard of. These challenging picture logic puzzles are made of a grid of squares that must be filled in, much like crosswords or sudoku, but the cells must be colored or left blank according to numbers at the side. Once complete, it reveals a hidden picture!
According to the review mentioned earlier, The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health, music therapy has been shown to provide emotional balance—decreasing anxiety, stress, and even pain. The Institute on Aging cites that “music can increase physical fitness, emotional well-being, energy levels, cognition, and more for older adults.”
The American Seniors Housing Association opines that “Performing can help improve memory and attention span and can also be an emotional outlet.” The ukulele, harmonica, bongos, piano, and woodwind instruments can all be played from a seated position. And you don’t have to stand to sing! Pick up a book on how to play your instrument of choice, look up video tutorials on YouTube, or super tech-savvy seniors can download an app like Yousician for on-demand music lessons on a smartphone, computer, or tablet.
It’s important to preserve family history for posterity. With new innovations like genetic DNA tests and online family trees, genealogy has become a hobby for people of all ages. Luckily for those with low mobility, this challenging, engaging, and fun hobby doesn’t require much physical activity at all. Add your family tree to a subscription-based database like Ancestry.com and watch it blossom into stories, pictures, and connections to history and relatives you might not know about. FamilySearch.org is a free site to store and discover your family history and genealogy records.
For the Luddites among us, there are plenty of workbooks where you can record your family tree on paper. However, if you are computer savvy and don’t mind sending in your spit, 23&Me opens up a whole new world of relatives (second cousins, third cousins) you never knew you had. Not only can it tell you exactly where your ancestors originated from, but it can also put you in touch with living relatives you probably have never heard of who have also sent in their DNA.
Learn a Foreign Language
Let’s face it, with limited mobility, you’re likely not leaving the country any time soon. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn a new language! What countries and cultures interest you? Learning a few words and phrases is not only fun, but it’s also good for your brain.
Books can help you learn a language, but there are many other ways, including Rosetta Stone software, the Duolingo app, and Babbel.com. Some libraries offer free online or in-person language courses. Many higher education institutions in the US offer cheap if not free college classes for seniors where you can learn a language or anything else you fancy.
Writing can help focus the mind and helps relieve stress and anxiety. Reminisce, express yourself, or explore new ideas through journaling, poetry, romance, nonfiction, or memoirs. If writing a memoir is too much pressure, start with writing a card, letter, or email to a friend or family member. If you’re thinking “that’s all well and good but I’m no writer,” take a class or workshop online or in the community. Limited dexterity? Record your thoughts on an audio recorder instead.
You may think this healthy hobby is out of reach, but there are many accessible exercises for those with limited mobility that can be performed from a chair. Even if you have difficulty getting around, it’s important to try. There is a saying in the disabled community that “if you don’t walk, you won’t walk”. So make an effort every day to get up and move—at least a short distance—with the assistance of a walker, if necessary.
As chiropractors often chirp, “the spine is your lifeline”. If you suffer from limited mobility, yoga may sound like an impossible feat, but this slow-paced workout is adaptable for all ability levels.
Practice poses from a seated position with chair yoga, or incorporate a walker for added stability. Yoga has many benefits for seniors. Not only will you be increasing balance, muscle strength, and flexibility, but you’ll be retaining and maybe even regain some mobility.
Listening to Podcasts
Podcasts are the new radio. If you have a smartphone, tablet, or computer (hello, what are you reading this on?) then you can find a podcast on just about anything. From entertainment and self-help to informative and educational, the options are endless. You can even find a book and listen to it chapter by chapter. Plus, you can listen whenever you want!