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Creative Activities for Seniors at Home in NYC
by Hannah Kloepfer, ComForCare
03/09/2022

In a world that’s increasingly reliant on remote work (and play), we’re endlessly impressed by the ways our caregivers and clients reinvent and create new activities from home. A shared hobby can form a meaningful connection.  A new skill can energize a stale routine. And it’s often the simplest of shifts that make a lasting impact. 

We spoke to several of our clients and caregivers who have gone above and beyond when it comes to thinking outside the box and creatively transforming life at home. We hope the following list inspires new ways to engage with your own loved ones!

Take a Virtual Walking Tour On Google Maps

From childhood homes and first apartments to study abroad experiences and honeymoons, every New Yorker has a good travel tale to tell. 

Thanks to “Street View on Google Maps, revisiting former homes and favorite destinations is easier than ever! Type in any address of significance, click on the 360-degree photo, and begin your virtual “walking” tour!

Casey, one of our caregivers, shared how successful this activity has been with her older adult, Marie (name changed for privacy):   

“I actually enjoy looking through Google maps myself and was thinking about Marie while I was doing it one day. I thought she would enjoy it, and boy was I right! I asked for her past addresses, anything she could remember, and searched for them. I then went to Street View and it was like taking a walk around the neighborhood. 

Marie remembered more places as we “walked” around. We visited her homes and schools. We also went to some of the places she enjoyed going to like dance class and a movie theater. A lot changed, of course, but she wasn’t bothered by it… She absolutely loved it and kept asking to see it again.”

The possibilities are endless with this kind of playful exploration. Start by asking simple questions:

  • Where was your first home?
  • What was your first New York address?
  • What was the best trip you ever took? 

If you run out of places you’ve actually been, “travel” somewhere you’ve always wanted to go – the whole world is just a click away!

Create a Learning Plan for a Hobby

Remember the excitement of a new school year? Fresh pencils. New books. Art supplies. What if you could recreate that feeling year-round? 

When connecting with a loved one or older adult, tap into your own teachable skills! Fluent in a language? Interested in Art History? Play an instrument? Build a simple, structured curriculum around a favorite hobby. 

One of our caregivers, an experienced artist currently caring for a married couple, designed a series of art classes based on her expertise with watercolors; they began by ordering paints and art supplies together. Then came the introductory lessons. Using just markers and scrap paper, they began exploring style and technique. This “back to basics” approach helped accommodate physical needs (for example, the limitations of Parkinson’s Disease) and emotional needs (overcoming self-consciousness about sharing art).

Confidence increased with practice, so they began incorporating finer paper and paints which culminated in the completion of a debut work of art that now hangs on the wall!

Be it art, music, or science experiments, our caregivers have learned that a “back to school”-style schedule and “homework” create an environment of accountability and motivation for all involved! 

Elderly woman and caregiver looking at a painting in New York City

Increase Kitchen Confidence

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. Whether you’re a master chef or a total cooking novice, there are many ways to explore and experiment with food. 

Our caregiver Michael and client KC have sure found a lot of joy by honing a new culinary skill: Pickling! From cucumbers and onions to blueberries and beets, pickling is an ancient preservation technique that allows us to enjoy in-season produce all year long. 

Of the process, Michael shared, “KC likes hearing stories of my upbringing on a small farm, and about the room lined with shelves that groaned under the weight of my mother’s preserves and pickles that she made every autumn. 

Next thing we knew, KC and I were buying the supplies – just cider vinegar and brown sugar – and choosing and slicing vegetables. We’ve done two large batches so far and a few smaller ones, working mostly with red onions but also peppers, beets, okra, watermelon rind – hopefully green tomatoes will be next… We pour the boiling brine over the vegetables in their jars and leave them in the fridge to age. 

They’ve made nice gifts for KC’s family.”

Create an Indoor Mini-Golf Course

From frigid winter temperatures to safety concerns, there are many reasons we stay inside these days. This can present emotional and physical challenges for active people! So why not bring the outside in

One of our caregivers built an at-home mini-golf course right in his senior’s Upper West Side apartment. Using papier mache, he constructed 18 holes in aerial view, and the pair tee-up with ping pong balls as part of their daily routine! A little friendly competition is a great way to beat the winter blues. 

Become an Art Critic

From theater and television to dance, fashion, and music, art is happening everywhere in New York City. In fact, many of our clients and caregivers are professional creatives or simply pop culture mavens with plenty of stories, and wisdom (and criticism) to share. Together, they find a lot of fun in sparring over the latest Broadway show or timeless Hollywood film. 

One of our clients is a retired Opera singer and teacher, who performed throughout Europe for most of her career, and now she’s made an opera expert of her caregiver! 

They revisit great productions from the  Metropolitan Opera and compare performances by singers throughout history. In becoming a teacher again, our resident Opera star came to life, flooded with memories of a life well-lived. 

For your own arts and culture debate, consider subscribing to platforms like BroadwayHD, The Criterion Collection, or Medici TV. 

Feeling ambitious? Type up a review and publish your very own ‘Be a Critic’ newsletter!

***

If you’re looking to shake up your routine or your loved one’s routine at home, keep a few things in mind: 

Keep it simple: When beginning a new activity, focus on the fun and ease of use.

Sharing is caring: Activities like the ones in this article work best when everyone enjoys them! Choose something that will get the ball rolling and nurture a curious, playful environment to keep exploring new activities. 

Try Try Again: The old adage is true – if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Be patient with this process. 

Maybe you’ll unlock a new passion on the first attempt! Or maybe, learning that pickling or putt putt are not for you is all part of the fun. Whatever you discover together, we wish you an abundance of creative, meaningful time spent with your loved ones.

Ready for more great ideas? Our Senior Activity Calendar highlights a tremendous selection of programming for older adults who want to stay active. We’ve assembled a comprehensive list of the dates, times, and locations for programs spanning various categories, from art classes to music groups and so many others.


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