Outside Activities for Seniors

Ideas of activities for seniors to enjoy this spring

A new season is a great opportunity to form new habits. And, really, what better season is there for a new beginning than spring. Symbolically, of course, this season represents new life. But practically, spring removes some of the challenges of winter with the promise of better weather and more activities going on around town. This is the perfect time to adopt a new interest — possibly one that gets your heart pumping and definitely one that gets you outside.

Getting up and out is important for building and maintaining health, strength, and good morale. Moving the body helps with strength, mobility, and endorphins. But even if moving isn’t an option for you, think about the Vitamin D! This vitamin, both ingestible but also obtained by exposure to the sun, plays a role in calcium absorption for bone health and possibly even immunity from colds and flu. And don’t underestimate the simple joy of a breath of fresh air.

After winter, we can feel a bit sluggish from a period of hibernation. Use the ideas below to inspire a little spring in your step this season.


Go for a walk

This one is simple enough in concept, and yet it can be hard to work up the motivation to get out there and do it. Sometimes it takes an extra nudge to increase the excitement level of the task. The list below will give you some ways of reframing what it is to take a walk and will have you ready to lace up your walking shoes.

  • Make a date with someone to walk with you. If they can’t make it, bring them along on your phone!
  • Walk your dog or borrow someone else’s dog.
  • Go to a dog park and enjoy watching them play.
  • Listen to music or a podcast while you walk.
  • Drive or grab a ride to a different neighborhood and take in a new view.
  • Take a guided walking tour of your town. Sometimes it’s fun to be a tourist where you live! If a tour is too much time on your feet, look for an open air tour bus in town to take you to the sites.
  • Take up photography and shoot what you see as you explore.
  • Check out a zoo or an outdoor art exhibit.
  • Go to a garden or arboretum. This will give you a chance to stop and smell the roses.
  • If you take public transport or get rides from someone, ask to be dropped off a little early and walk the rest of the way home.
  • Choose a farmer’s market over the grocery store. Fresher produce is an added bonus.
  • Grab a treat: an ice cream can be an excellent excuse to get out of the house on a nice day.



What do Tai chi, strength training, yoga, cardio, and stretching all have in common? They can be done outside! If you’re taking an exercise class at your CCRC or local gym, recommend to your instructor to move class outside for the day if there’s a safe lawn that can be used. You may find a new environment may also make your work out more stimulating as well!


Bring your group outside

Are you part of a book club or a weekly card game? Why not move it outside? There’s no reason to sit inside with spring in full bloom when you’re one table and a few chairs away from a delightful afternoon experience outdoors.

Look for parks with tables and chairs, community lawns, building courtyards, or ask someone to give you a hand setting up the ideal space outside of your residence. The change of scenery will possibly bring new energy to a group that meets regularly. Also, pick activities where there aren’t too many physical things to arrange. A puzzle would be a huge bummer to start only to have to pack back up halfway through!

Can’t motivate a group to get together? Bring your crossword, afternoon tea, or favorite book outside and enjoy the breeze yourself!


Outdoor events

Springtime brings an abundance of activities outdoors to be enjoyed in the nice weather. Depending on your town, there will be a range of different things on offer. You may find outdoor theatre events, music performances, sporting events, food festivals, or craft fairs from time to time throughout the spring and into the summer.

Keep an eye on the sections of the paper that list events of interest to you, and pay close attention to any outside events; it can be a fresh way to enjoy something you already love.


Outdoor Hobbies

Winter automatically gets us off the wagon of doing our hobbies that live outside. But spring is the perfect opportunity to hop back on the wagon. Do you fish? Garden? Birdwatch? Getting back into these hobbies will keep your skills up but will also bring enjoyment.

If none of these hobbies relate to you, perhaps consider taking on a new one! Learning something new keeps the mind sharp, and nothing bridges the gap of a new social group than a shared hobby or interest.


Most of these activities can be also be done with a walker, wheelchair, or a companion — so if it’s safe to do, you have a great reason to get out there and see the world through the lens of spring! Remember, the goal here isn’t complicated. Even if your new commitment this spring is to simply request the table outside for lunch, make sure you’re finding a way to get in the fresh air that works for you. You won’t regret taking that time for yourself.

5 Questions to Ask Before Moving to Aged Care

Things to consider before selecting a Senior Living facility

Moving to a senior living community comes with many considerations. It’s a life change, potential expense, and can be instigated by health decline or emergency. When you consider the size and impact of this decision, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, it’s where you or a loved one will be living.

The following questions help you navigate this choice, but ultimately the questions you ask should be your personal preference. Before touring communities, think about what an ideal day looks like for you or a loved one. What is important? Are there any health concerns? What details add value or complication to daily life?

The perfect fit for one could be the wrong fit for another so trusting reviews and recommendations is not a complete approach in the decision-making process. Experience communities for yourself, meet the staff and residents, and learn all the details you can. Use these experiences to answer the following questions — they will help make the right decision for you.

1) What is included in the cost?

This may seem like an obvious question to ask, but there is a large range of what may or may not be included based on the type of home you visit. We are an all-inclusive continuing care retirement community (CCRC). There are no hidden costs or surprise fees with our all-inclusive approach.

Our all-inclusive price includes rent, housekeeping, utilities, parking, a fitness center, community activities, and more.

2) What is the community able to treat?

As a CCRC, we offer four levels of living: independent living, assisted living, short-term rehab, and long-term care. So if you’re an independent living resident and have an unfortunate fall, you can receive the short-term rehab help you need that is a few steps from your front door. This also gives your family peace of mind in knowing you will be cared for — no matter what happens.

3) Who are the staff?

The staff makes up a significant part of the community. They are responsible for the treatment, care, and experience of your stay. Ask these questions: what are their qualifications? What is the retention rate of staff members? What is the staff to patient ratio? How much time do residents spend with the same staff daily? Is there anyone on staff focusing on safety and security?

4) What activities are offered?

This can make or break an experience for a resident. Some enjoy organized activities such as game nights or crafting. Others want to be sure there is space to host family and friends. It’s common for residents to desire a connection with the community outside of the home, as well as shuttles to grocery stores or nearby movie theatres, could also be an important consideration. Many communities offer workout classes, therapy-based activities, and outreach programs that involve every resident and staff member.

Quality of life must be considered and can often be brushed over in the search for a community that offers the best medical care, cost, or safety for its residents. But moving to a new home should also offer the opportunity to meet new people and enjoy daily experiences, and the right questions can point the way to a home that suits you.

5) What is the food like?

This is important for several reasons. First, is it included? If you are looking at continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), different packages in the independent living care may not offer meal service. If it’s included, how many and how often are meals offered? It’s also important to note allergies, taste preference, and dietary needs for any health concerns you may have. If the kitchen on site is responsible for all meals, it’s important to know that you have options that not only suit your taste but also your dietary needs.

This is not an exhaustive list. There may be other considerations that could be deal breakers for you. Some could be:

  • Are pets allowed?
  • Can my family visit? Can they stay?
  • What is the proximity to a hospital?
  • Do you have different stages of living (Independent, assisted, or skilled nursing)?
  • What is the male to female ratio?
  • What is the view outside?

Only you know what is important to you. At the end of the day, your community choice must feel like home and also serve your needs. Use your five senses and your list of questions to get answers out of staff, residents, and family members of residents and then listen to the most important decision maker: your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. There is a large range of quality out there, and you have your own set of needs. Depending on your reason for the move, it may or may not be an exciting change. But it can be a positive one if you take the time and investigate what is important to you so you can find your right fit. After all, there’s no place like home.

Benefits of Pets for Seniors

Taking a look at how pets can offer health benefits to their aging owners

Pet ownership is common amongst families of all types, so have we ever stopped to ask the question: why? Yes, we love our furry friends, but there are underlying scientific reasons why humans have taken care of pets all this time. Pets actually offer many benefits to their owners.

Research has been done on the healing benefits of pet ownership, especially in senior citizens. In partnership with the University of Missouri, ReCHAI actually studies animal and human interaction. The research found has influenced the implementation of animal therapy programs, service dogs for numerous medical conditions, and encouraged seniors to spend more time with four-legged companions.


Social Life

When thinking about why pets improve our daily lives, social life is easily at the top of the list. Our pets are our companions. Of course, we play with them within the role of good pet owners, but many people also talk to their pets. Time spent with pets has even been shown to improve communication in dementia patients when human interaction has failed.

While having an animal to talk to and play with can ease loneliness, many seniors find that having an animal, especially a dog, helps with their social lives outside of the home as well. Having a sense of purpose improves confidence, which encourages seniors to be more outgoing. Walking the dog allows seniors to meet other people while they are out and expands their social interactions. Pet owners love to swap stories, which makes pets great conversation starters as well. They are truly social matchmakers for their owners.



Looking beyond the social benefits of pet ownership, the actual health benefits of pets are truly astounding. The hormonal response pets trigger can help with mental and physical ailments. Studies have shown pet owners have decreased anxiety, stress levels, and pain due to the release of oxytocin from an animal interaction. This hormonal release is what creates the bond between animal and human, but it turns out that it is a key element in an animal’s health benefits as well.

There is research that shows that pet ownership can lower the risk of certain types of cancer, hasten the healing process after heart attacks, and reduce the number of doctor visits during the year. The CDC confirms that animals can also lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels (which reduce the risk of heart disease).

Part of the reason dogs are so good for heart health is the increased opportunity for exercise. Many seniors find that they exercise more as dog owners because they feel the responsibility to take care of their dog. Dogs are great motivators because they are always in the mood for a walk — whether rain or shine!



A major concern for seniors and their families as they age is safety, especially if seniors are living alone. Dogs are great to have around to make their owners feel safe at home. As hearing degenerates, dogs are able to warn aging owners of unwelcome prowlers. They also can be trained to help accurately detect cancer or dangerous changes in sugar levels for diabetics. Whether guarding the home or keeping a nose on physical ailments, owning a dog can prove to be a lifesaver.


Live in the moment

An often overlooked but supremely true reason we love to keep our pet pals around is that they live in the moment. They shake off a setback, land on four legs, and don’t worry about the future. This is a rewarding energy to be around at any age, but this can be especially welcome for seniors as they often deal with a range of frustrations like aging or fears about the future. Animals are a charming and present reminder that life is happening right now. Even the briefest flashes of something shiny or the smallest treat can be a source of fascination and gratitude.


Risk vs Reward

As with all things in life, the debate of whether an animal is a right choice for you has validity on both sides. However, the benefits are many for human and animal interaction. If you decide a pet is right for you, there are some considerations to take to ensure a mutually-beneficial relationship.


As a senior and new pet owner, consider adopting an older animal. Not only do they require less mobility, but they also struggle to find welcoming homes as younger families want to raise young animals. Your pet will match your energy level and be infinitely grateful for a loving home.

If you don’t want a pet in your home but still want the companionship, there are additional options! Ask about local pet therapy programs or volunteer at a local shelter. You will get all the feel-good feelings of spending time with animals as well as the warm, fuzzy reward of doing a good deed. After all, nothing beats the warm affection of an animal friend.

Be sure to check out pet insurance too. Click here: https://money.com/best-pet-insurance/

Stretches to Relieve Back Pain (Part Four)

Part four of a four-part series on getting rid of back pain for good

The culmination of this four-part series on relieving back pain focuses on stability in functional movement. The exercises you’ve learned in isolation will take you far in terms of strength and flexibility, but the key is to make sure that their benefits are integrating into daily movement. So many injuries or physical aggravations come from overuse or misuse of the body in unconscious daily movement. By the end of this article, you will have great new tools to practice that will help you carry yourself through your day more safely and hopefully pain-free.


Ball Sit

Starting simple, let’s look at the benefit of exercise balls. You can construct an entire regimen around these handy workout helpers. They are a low-impact way of adding a little extra challenge to daily exercises because they challenge your stability. Any time we can teach the core to join the party of simple or gross movements, the better. Core stabilization protects the spine, encourages safe posture, and helps prevent falls.

The easiest way to incorporate the benefits of an exercise ball into your daily life won’t even require you to take time out for exercise. Use your exercise ball as a chair! While reading a book, eating a snack, working on the computer, or doing any other seated task, if you can do so safely you may as well do it while sitting on a ball! These daily tasks often distract us from thinking about good things like posture and core engagement, so the exercise ball encourages that activation and aids in developing new physical habits while doing everyday activities.

Another great way to utilize the exercise ball is to replace a chair with a ball in any of your seated exercises. In Part Two and Part Three of this series, we’ve given you several seated exercises to try. Substituting for a ball, amps up the challenge level of these exercises, so feel free to have a wall or a chair back nearby to aid with balance if needed.


Single Limb Balance

This exercise is mostly focused on the stability of the ankles but is a great way to incorporate a bit of hip flexor stretching if you would like to consolidate your exercises. Our feet are the base of our stance, and as we stand or walk, instability at the base can introduce risk. Functional use of the ankles improves balance, which will not only support good posture but also prevents slips, which limits the possibility of tweaking your lower back.

Holding onto the back of a chair or the wall, lift your right leg and balance on your left. Feeling wobbly on your ankle is completely normal, and letting the wobbles happen teaches your ankle its safe range of motion and helps it to stabilize. Repeat the same exercise on the other side.

If you are finding this easy and would like to incorporate the hip flexor stretch, bend the right knee and lift the heel back and up toward your glutes. You can hold on to the top of your foot with your right hand to aid with the stretch. You can also increase the challenge by taking your hands away from the chair or wall. Notice that with time the wobbles decrease and your balance improves.


Large Side Step

This is a great exercise for making sure your core is doing all the right work for you while making larger movements through space. Not only will the strength element help stabilize your spine, but working with balance also helps prevent future injury caused by unsupported movement.

You can start this one with your feet together and hands down, or on your hips if you struggle with balance. Pretend that there is a laundry basket next to you, and lift your right knee high and step your right foot out to the side over the imaginary basket. Plant your foot on the ground and use the same movement to bring your left foot to join the right. You can then repeat on the other side, stepping back over the basket the other way. Do five on each side.

If this is a challenge for you, feel free to hold on to a chair while making the move. The goal here is to make sure everything that you need to support balance and coordination is firing while you move, so be sure to think about activating the core muscles we’ve been strengthening.


Stand to Sit

We are now going to work the functional integration of your core and leg muscles into sitting standing. These everyday movements actually can introduce risk if not done safely and are commonly painful if you already struggle with lower back pain. The goal here is to make sure you are moving in a safe and supported way when getting into and out of a chair.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and have something nearby to hold on to if you need help with balance. Slowly lower your hips back into a chair, trying to make the landing gentle and controlled. Thinking about pressing into the heels as you sit will activate your upper leg muscles and give your descent that extra bit of support. After a pause, press into your feet and slowly stand up while taking care to keep your upper body in the same position. Think about core activation as your move in and out of your chair 10 times.

Make sure that this level of muscular engagement is involved any time you are sitting and standing. Check in with yourself as you are doing your ball exercises that you are engaging as you sit. When sitting down to dinner, be sure that you are not flopping into chairs or twisting your way out of them. The goal here is to bring what we learn in our exercises to our daily movement to decrease physical vulnerability and increase strength.


Each installment of this four-part series is extremely helpful for preventing and reversing back pain, and all can be utilized daily or in a rotation to be part of a well-rounded regimen. Sometimes, stretching will be called for more than strengthening. Perhaps eventually more challenging exercises will need to be introduced when you are feeling strong. No matter where you are in the process, what is most important is listening to your body and knowing what healthy movement feels like. Focusing on functional stability will show you where your weaknesses are and you can be the master of your own well-being by applying the exercises needed to reverse those weaknesses. Remember that our bodies are designed to work, and giving our bodies the love and support they need throughout all movement, big and small, allows us to work with our bodies to be able to walk through life safely and pain-free!

Stretches to Relieve Back Pain (Part Three)

Part three of a four-part series on getting rid of back pain for good

When dealing with back pain, it is easy to focus on the symptom without addressing a foundational cause. The truth is, one of the most influential factors in all injury but most especially in back pain is core strength. The core supports and stabilizes the spine, which becomes even more crucial as we age. If the larger muscle groups that are meant to be doing the hard work aren’t firing the way they should be, the job ends up getting dumped on connective tissue which is already weakening with age. We want our spine to be supported with strong, healthy core muscles for optimum function and minimal pain. These simple exercises will go a long way in improving stability, range of motion, and reducing lower back pain.


Curl Up

This exercise works the upper abdominals and the rectus-abdominis which are the superficial core muscles that get the most attention in core work. You’ve likely worked these before, but this time try to move mindfully rather than relying on momentum to do the work for you. Start by lying on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Engage your core muscles as you slowly lift your head and shoulders off the floor a few inches. The goal is not height here, but focusing on slow movement with effort in the core. If you feel gripping in your neck or shoulders, you have come up too high. Stay for a breath, and then roll down slowly and mindfully, keeping the core engaged until your head touches the ground. Repeat 5 times.


Extended Table Top

With this exercise, we are focusing on stabilization and keeping the core engaged through movement. This exercise begins on all fours in a position called table top. You may like to put a towel under your knees for extra support. You’ll begin with a deep engagement in your core, and slowly extend your right leg out behind you and slightly off the ground. When that feels stable, add the challenge of extending your left arm forward at the same time. Stay for 2 rounds of breath before returning to table top. Then you’ll move on to the other side, doing 3 reps on each side.

If this gets to be a lot on your wrists, take a break and stretch your wrists between each side. If you have yoga blocks, you can also use the block to bring the ground higher and rest your supporting forearm on the block for support rather than relying on your hands and wrists.


Leg Lifts

Leg lifts are a great way to engage your lower core, an area of the core that often gets less attention. Start lying on your back with your left leg bent and foot flat on the floor with your right leg extended out on the ground. Focus on keeping your lower back flat on the ground while you lift your right leg a few inches off the ground. Hold for a round of breath before slowly lowering your leg to the ground, being sure not to release your core or let your lower back lift from the ground until your leg touches the floor. Repeat five times before going on to the other side.

Once you’ve been practicing this exercise for awhile and have gotten some lower abdominal strength going, you can add to the challenge by turning this exercise into a leg lowering exercise. Starting on your back, with both legs up at ninety degrees and a slight bend in the knees. Slowly lower your right leg while keeping your lower back pressed down to the floor. At first, this may just be a lowering forty five degrees while you are focusing on keeping your hip flexors relaxed, core engaged and lower back on the floor. Slowly lift your leg back to meet the left leg before you switch sides. You can work your way up to lowering your leg a couple inches off the ground as long as your lower back doesn’t lift as you lower.


Seated Side Bends

Seated side bends focus on the obliques, which can be essential in helping with the stabilization of the spine. Start seated with your feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Find your core muscles engaged before you begin movement. Place your left hand behind your head while you lean to the right side, reaching your right arm down toward the floor. It doesn’t matter how far you go, you just want to be sure to focus on the left side body as you slowly contract your body back up to a seating position. Switch your arms and try on the other side. Repeat 3-5 times each side. Be sure to move with intention rather than allowing momentum to drive this exercise for maximum benefit.


While any of these exercises are great on their own, they each target a different part of the core and so work best when integrated together into a well-rounded workout routine. It is important to view core strength as the foundation of safe movement and it should be a non-negotiable in any workout regimen. The goal of this hard work is for your core strength to integrate into daily functional movement, which will be an essential part of preventing and reversing back pain and other injury.