Moving parents to assisted living can be challenging, for both seniors and their families. First, there is the time involved with finding a suitable facility, and then the process of moving into a nursing home. Once they are settled, feelings of anxiety, boredom and loneliness can then also arise as they are dealing with an entirely new location and way of life and their independence may be challenged.

However, a lack of stimulation and social interaction can also have many negative outcomes for seniors. Lifestyle activities are a vital part of aged care settings and can help enrich the lives of residents. They can also provide social interaction, emotional support, mental stimulation and physical benefits. Here are some fun activities for seniors in nursing homes that can make a profound difference to their day-to-day lives and ongoing mental health.

Outings and excursions

When it comes to day trip ideas for your loved one, outings and excursions are a great way for them to explore new locations and activities that can lead to improvements in their physical, mental and emotional health.


A lovely lunch at a local restaurant can do wonders for your loved one’s mood and appetite! Sharing a meal can enhance communication and strengthen relationships, particularly if family are involved. If your loved one uses a walker or wheelchair, confirm the restaurant can deal with mobility issues (including in bathrooms) and has comfortable seating if your quick catch-up turns into a long lunch!


Local museums, art galleries, science museums, history museums and aquariums are all wonderful ways to engage seniors. Again, ensure the venues can deal with mobility issues, and if your loved one is overwhelmed by crowds or loud noises, try visiting cultural spots on weekdays or earlier in the morning.


Visiting a local library is a great way to explore the local area, and libraries are generally reasonably quiet venues that promote relaxation. Libraries also often have events that may be of interest, or your loved one can just spend some time quietly reading in a comfy chair.

Cultural activities

The ballet, the theatre, concerts, the movies, art shows, sporting events, historical sites, wineries, craft fairs, farmers’ markets, in terms of fun activities for seniors, the list is endless! One of the best ways to keep abreast of what’s happening in your local area is to visit your local council’s website. If you are in Brisbane, here are some ideas from the Brisbane City Council.

Exercise programs

Regular exercise can keep seniors active and healthy, and if they are in an aged care facility, it is one of the simplest social activities seniors can do in a safe and monitored environment. Exercise is also a mood-booster that can improve stability and strength, which can lessen the risk of a fall. Programs can include


Often the exercise of choice for seniors, walking doesn’t have to be strenuous so will have little impact on their joints. Plus, strolling through the open air of a local park or along a beach can restore focus, mitigate pain, improve circulation, improve sleep and boost energy levels and the immune system.


Whether it’s waltzing, ballroom dancing or salsa, dancing can be one of those fun activities for seniors that combines both exercise and emotional expression. It is also a fantastic way of meeting similarly-aged people and can improve balance and cognition and stimulate reminiscence


Swimming has minimal impact on our joints, so is ideal for seniors. It can improve cardiovascular health, balance and coordination, and strengthen the immune system and help seniors grow muscle mass. And it doesn’t have to be too energetic. Even gentle movements in water can have a positive impact.

Lawn bowls

The game of lawn bowls is slow-paced and doesn’t require too much exertion. It can improve fitness, coordination, and skill development and enhance confidence, self-esteem and mental well-being. It is also a great way to socialise with friends, which is why so many seniors attend regular bowling sessions!


Yoga is another low-impact activity that can improve strength and stability and relax the mind. Seated yoga classes often cater specifically to seniors who are less mobile. It can also reduce the fear of falling and help seniors who are not used to exercise begin to improve their balance and strength.

Reading and storytelling

Reading is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things that anyone can do, but it doesn’t just keep us entertained. It can strengthen and reactivate our neural pathways, which can boost our memories. Frequent brain exercises like reading can also decrease cognitive decline in seniors. Storytelling is also one of the valuable and fun activities for seniors in assisted living. If your loved one is suffering from grief, sadness or mental illnesses such as dementia or depression, regular storytelling sessions can help improve their mood. If their eyesight is an issue, most tablets, Smartphones and computers these days accommodate digital books, including those that can be read with large text on the screen or in audio format.

Arts and crafts

Crafting is a popular hobby for many seniors, allowing them to be creative and express themselves in a way that is unique to them. Many aged care facilities provide a variety of arts and crafts activities. These range from drawing, painting, colouring, scrapbooking, pottery and sculpture to memory collages from mementos, photographs and cut-outs. Nature-inspired art can also be incredibly inspiring, including nature-related paintings and pressed flower arrangements. It allows seniors to tap into the therapeutic benefits of the outdoors and further connect them with their environment in a positive way to boost their mood.

Singing and music

Whether it’s playing a musical instrument, listening to their favourite songs, or even just singing along, music has an incredible impact on the physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being of seniors. It can enhance their emotional well-being, reduce stress, enhance their cognitive function, assist with pain management and mood elevation, and improve social interactions. Music can also provide your loved one with an avenue for personal expression, allowing them to express thoughts, emotions and creativity, fostering a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

Puzzles and games

Puzzles and games are another of the fun group activities for seniors that can stimulate the mind and boost mood. Some of the best cognitive training exercises for elderly people include:


Because bingo can be held with a large group of people at one time, it not only challenges the mind, it encourages social interaction as well.

Jigsaw puzzles

Puzzles come in a wide variety of difficulties, from small jigsaws with just a few pieces to more challenging puzzles. They can improve spatial skills, memory and the ability to collaborate, making them one of the best brain training exercises for seniors.


Fun active games for seniors can promote finger dexterity, provide a mental challenge that encourages seniors to problem solve and bring seniors together over friendly competition. Some that seniors will love include Jenga, Scrabble, Connect-4, dominoes and card games.


Gardening is a fantastic way to encourage aged care residents to go outside and enjoy the fresh air. It is a healthy activity that can improve strength, endurance and mobility. It can also provide a sense of achievement in enjoying plants that have been planted and cultivated. If your loved one tended to a garden at home, it can provide a sense of independence. And it also allows residents to socialise with each other while they plant, weed and nurture their new ‘garden babies’!


Self-care is vital for all of us, including seniors, and can involve a range of activities that aren’t just about physical health. It is equally important that we fortify our emotional and mental well-being. Spending time in nature can counteract anxiety, enhance cognitive function, and help combat Vitamin D deficiency, which is a common risk factor for heart attack, stroke and osteoporosis.

Catching up with loved ones is also important. As human beings, staying connected to other people doesn’t just feel great, it has helpful benefits. These include an improved immune system, higher levels of happiness, lower stress levels, improved memory, strong self-esteem and a reduced incidence of many health conditions. Self-care for seniors can also involve activities that help them feel relaxed, rested and rejuvenated, including having a massage, a manicure or pedicure, a facial, or even just a haircut.

RSL Day Clubs

Run by the Australian Government’s Department of Veterans Affairs, RSL Day Clubs provide opportunities for seniors to develop and maintain social contact outside their residence through activities like games, sports, fitness, information sessions and arts and crafts. Day Clubs are run by local ex-service or community-based organisations, and each club tailors its activities to the interests and skills of the club’s members. For information about individual Day Clubs, contact the organisations directly.

For expert advice on managing the affairs of an estate following the passing of a loved one, or managing property matters on behalf of a loved one who has moved to full-time care, contact us today.