10 Great Hobbies for Seniors & Elderly People

Elderly people playing cards.

Retirement can be a big shift for many older adults. For most people, it is a positive shift. You will find the opportunity to do things you never had time for before. However, for others, the shift may be more difficult. These retirees may experience more problems with mobility and daily activities, as well as increased illnesses, and decreased mental health. For some people, their job was their identity, and when it is gone, they may start to feel purposeless. However, engaging in new skills or activities can turn this way of thinking around. Elderly people can use this newfound free time to engage in fulfilling hobbies that they enjoy, allowing them to experience more meaning and purpose in life.

Some seniors may be restricted in their ability to participate in some activities. However, there are plenty of hobbies that are perfect for those confined to a sedentary lifestyle. Even though the physical body may be restricted, exercising the mind can have a major positive impact on your long-term health. 

Picking Out Your New Hobby

So let’s explore what sort of hobbies may be right for you. Think about your interests, as well as physical limitations. Let’s take a closer look to figure out what kind of hobbies would suit you best. Ask yourself:

Would you like a group activity or solo activity? Solo activities can include things like photography, bird watching, painting, or candle making. Group activities could include card games, traveling, RVing, or swing dancing. 

Was there an old hobby in the past you didn’t have time for? Think back to the past, maybe even as far back as childhood. Some things we enjoyed in our childhood can give us some of the greatest joys, even later in life. You may be able to reignite an old passion by picking up that forgotten pastime. 

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time? During your working years, did you perhaps see or hear about things that interested you? Perhaps you thought you would enjoy it, but you were too busy at the time. Well now is the time to explore it!

Would you enjoy an Inside hobby or an outside one? If you are a home care patient, you will have to find an indoor activity that caregivers can assist you with. This may include computer games, bird watching, or jewelry-making. Or perhaps you would like to spend more time outside. Think about what you love to do outside and go for what interests you most. 

Would you like to challenge your physical capabilities or mental ones? If you are looking to sharpen your mental skills, perhaps you will be suited for reading, playing games, or learning a new language. If you want to do something more physical, think about taking up pickleball, golf, aerobics, or bowling. 

Would you like to engage in a new activity on the water or land? If you are near a body of water, try swimming, boating, fishing, or snorkeling. If you are on land, try hiking, ax throwing, or horseback riding.

Do you want a hobby that makes a difference around you and gives a sense of purpose? If so, consider volunteering, fundraising, or fostering an animal. You could also consider taking an online class learning something you could implement in your daily life to benefit others around you. For instance, take a cooking class and prepare fine meals for your family and friends. 

Do you want to explore a new hobby online? Get more familiar with online platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or Facebook. Try out a new app that may be helpful to you. Consider buying or selling products on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon. You could also subscribe to podcasts that interest you. Or consider joining an online gaming community to make some friends around the world.

Hopefully, these introspective questions have gotten your motivation juices flowing. Perhaps you have already come up with a new hobby you are interested in pursuing. If you are still stumped, here is a list of some of our favorite hobby ideas for elderly people.

Reading is a great way for seniors to relax.

1. Reading

When was the last time you got lost in a good book? Not only are books a fun escape for our imaginations, but reading can also enhance seniors’ cognitive abilities. It may even help delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. And having these improvements in cognition can in turn preserve one’s lifespan. Let’s explore some of the cognitive benefits of reading: 

  • Improves memory: Studies have shown that people who stimulate their brain through reading can experience a slower rate of memory decline than those who didn’t. Even if you haven’t read in years, if you start engaging in a frequent cognitive activity like reading now, you may reduce your rate of decline by 32%! When you read, you engage your short-term memory to recall earlier parts of the book. As a result, your short-term memory in everyday life can improve as well. You can also mold your brain in this way to become more receptive to learning, as well as being able to retain more things in your memory. 
  • Improves decision-making skills: Challenging your brain through reading can enhance your ability to analyze and reason to solve problems. This is an ability that declines throughout adulthood. 
  • Delays onset of memory-related diseases: When you engage in activities that challenge your brain, you build a reserve of neural connections. Having more means it will take longer for Alzheimer’s or dementia to destroy these neurons, and thus will take longer for symptoms to emerge. 
  • Reduces stress: Research has shown that getting lost in a book can reduce stress faster than many other relaxing activities. This includes listening to music, going for a walk, or having a cup of tea. For readers, it can take only 6 minutes for heart rate and muscle tension to relax once they have picked up a book. 
  • Better sleep: Turning the pages of a book at bedtime is more likely to help you fall asleep faster than changing the channels on TV. This is because turning reading into a regular bedtime activity will signal your body that it is time to sleep. Not only will TV keep you up longer, but it can also disrupt your rest. Pick up a book instead, and you may even continue the story in your dreams!

Besides the listed cognitive benefits, you may even experience social ones as well. We suggest joining a book club or hanging out at a local library. You can find someone to discuss your favorite books with, or explore new ones together. 

2. Bird Watching

You’ll be surprised by what you notice when you just stop and watch the world around you. Birds can be very fun to watch. You will notice their intelligence, humor, cleverness, craftiness, and social interaction. If you are no longer mobile, bird watching may be a great new activity to try. It can easily be done from the comfort of a home window or around the neighborhood. As you watch over time, you will get familiar with your local birds and their personalities. 

Birdwatching is quickly becoming one of the most popular hobbies around the country, and for a few good reasons. It is simple, inexpensive, and encourages us to get outdoors. Not only that, this hobby can stimulate memory, alertness, and attention to detail. Getting to know the rhythm and pattern of local birds coming and going can be stress-relieving for seniors.

Getting started doesn’t take much. Focus on creating a welcome space for birds, keeping in mind food, water, and shelter. Here are a few things you can use to create a bird-friendly environment: 

Bird feeders: Place feeders throughout the yard, hanging from trees, bushes, or any structure that can hold the weight. Fill the feeders with nutritious seeds like sunflower, safflower, shelled and cracked corn, peanuts, flaxseed, sorghum, etc. 

Birdhouses: Including a birdhouse will set you up for lots of prime bird watching. Some of the most fascinating bird activity happens during the nesting season. With the addition of a house for birds to nest in, you will be able to observe courting, nest building, laying of eggs, and hatching.

Water baths: Birdbaths and water features are not only a source of hydration, the water can help birds clean and care for their feathers. Place the birdbath in a flat part of the yard that doesn’t get too much sun.

Binoculars: If you don’t have the convenience of close-up bird watching, invest in a pair of binoculars. If you are going somewhere, you can bring the binoculars along to observe a new bird environment. 

Bird guide: Find a bird guide that features birds in your local area to help you identify and learn about your neighborhood feathered friends.

Another helpful way to create an ideal environment for birds is to include a variety of bird-friendly plants in your yard. Find out what is local to your region, preferably plants that survive in all seasons. The birds will eat the fruit, nuts, seeds, and berries of these plants, and feed unwelcome insects to their young. 

3. Gardening

Besides attracting wonderful birds to your yard, gardening has an endless amount of other benefits. It provides a hefty amount of physical activity, allowing you to burn calories and strengthen muscles. The sun’s rays will provide you essential vitamin D, and you will feel the stress melt away as you enjoy the relaxing effects of connecting with nature. Consider implementing raised beds or vertical gardening to minimize the strain on your back and joints. Also keep in mind the environment you live in, and which plants will ideally grow. Native species are always a good bet, but here are a few ideas of easy things you can plant: 

Fruits and vegetables:

  • Bell peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cabbage
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic 
  • Cucumbers


  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Thyme 
  • Parsley


  • Sunflowers
  • Nigella
  • Sweet peas
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums
  • Fuschias
  • Pansy

4. Volunteering

Volunteering can enhance the overall well-being of seniors. It provides a sense of purpose and meaning, which can often be diminished after retirement. It can also contribute to improved self-esteem, knowing you are making a positive difference in the world. Seniors tend to withdraw and isolate as they age, often causing them to suffer from depression. However, the new friends that can be made and the sense of community that comes with volunteering is a lifeline for senior’s mental health. Here are some ideas of areas and places where seniors can volunteer:

  • Humane societies or animal shelters
  • Legal advocate i.e. International Seniors Lawyers Project
  • Political campaigns
  • Tour guide
  • Disaster relief i.e. Red Cross
  • Hunger relief i.e. Meals on Wheels
  • Working with children i.e. Big Brothers Big Sisters
  • Helping veterans i.e. USO
  • Habitat for Humanity

5. Research Family History 

Tracing one’s genealogy is becoming an increasingly popular trend. And now being able to use the Internet as a helpful resource, older adults can find out more than they ever could have imagined. Seniors can compile family records and heirlooms, record stories, or take DNA tests. They can easily contact relatives around the world, as well as discover the family medical history that may affect them. Elderly people will enjoy sharing their stories through video recordings, scrapbooking of family photos, or write down family history for their loved ones to treasure and pass down. 

Understanding more about where they come from can help seniors feel a sense of identity, which can provide them with peace. They may gain a sense of pride by knowing and understanding everything their ancestors did to ensure the thriving of their family. Additionally, thinking back to their own life experiences will exercise their memory recall, therefore strengthening their cognition.

Learning how to play music is a great way to enjoy your day.

6. Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

Have you ever wanted to play music, but never had the time to learn? In the senior years is one of the best times to take on such a hobby. Not only will it keep the brain active and stimulated, but it will also help with memory retention, hand-eye coordination, and sharpen dexterity. Depending on what level of difficulty you want, here are a variety of instruments you can learn:


  • Ukulele
  • Harmonica
  • Piano

More difficult:

  • Guitar
  • Recorder/Tin Whistle
  • Bongos/Drums

7. Playing Games

Games aren’t just for kids. People of all ages can enjoy them. Seniors can benefit greatly from playing a variety of games. Games can improve memory and other brain functions. Stimulating the brain through play can even help deter the progression of dementia. Not only does playing games provide cognitive benefits, but it also encourages social activity. Playing games with grandkids or a group of friends can prevent isolation and loneliness, a common problem in seniors. Get together, laugh, and try some of these games with your loved ones: 

Puzzle, Tile, and Board Games: 

  • Chess
  • Monopoly
  • Backgammon
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Checkers
  • Dominos 
  • Mahjong
  • Jenga
  • Cranium
  • Scrabble
  • Jigsaw puzzles

Card games:

  • Rummy
  • Cribbage
  • Canasta
  • Pinochle
  • UNO
  • Bridge
  • Spades
  • Crazy Eights
  • Old Main

Video/Computer/Phone Games:

  • Bejeweled
  • Candy Crush Saga
  • World of Warcraft
  • Words with Friends 2
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris

Word and Number Games:

  • Crossword puzzles
  • Sudoku
  • Boggle 
  • Scattergories
  • Balderdash
  • Word Search

8. Learn a New Language

After retirement, seniors are overwhelmed with free time. Some seniors choose to spend this free time traveling and exploring the world, something they have never had the opportunity to do. A good way to prepare for traveling is to learn the language of the country you will be visiting. Not only will it enhance the enjoyment of your trip by making it less stressful, but you will also benefit from the enhanced cognition that comes along with language learning. 

Learning a new language challenges the brain to recognize words, determine meaning, and enhance overall communication. Bilingual people are said to have better problem-solving and decision-making skills. Committing yourself to the study of a new language may put you out of your comfort zone, but the new world it opens up will be so rewarding.

9. Walking

Living a sedentary lifestyle is one of the quickest ways to experience a cognitive and physical decline. Walking, as well as any other physical activity, should be implemented into our lives for the following benefits:

  • Improves heart health
  • Fresh air exposure
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces pain by strengthening muscles
  • Low participation cost
  • Promotes social interaction

And lastly, this low-impact activity can help improve your general sense of well-being by reducing anxiety and boosting your mood. As you walk, you will find yourself feeling more positive and optimistic about life. Grab a friend and explore the neighborhood, stopping to enjoy nature sights, as well as connecting with your neighbors. 

10. Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts are powerful mediums of self-expression. Get in touch with your inner artist, whether you consider yourself talented or not. The experience of getting lost in creating will help you release stress while improving cognition and motor skills. Plus, whatever you create can be shared as a gift to the world. The ability to inspire others and make them smile through your art creation will spur on further projects. This will make it more and more worthwhile as your ability improves. Here are some fun arts and crafts activities that seniors love:

  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Ornament-making
  • Knitting
  • Pottery
  • Scrapbooking
  • Jewelry-making
  • Quilting
  • Woodworking

Ignite New Passion in Your Golden Years

The best hobbies are the ones that ignite a new passion for you. This newfound motivation will bring you more health benefits, not to mention healthy aging. We here at CareAsOne hope this article has inspired you to pursue an exciting new path in your golden years.

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