The world is a big place, but for bedridden seniors, it can seem very small—and lonely.
Seniors with limited mobility can often feel as if they’re missing out on the big and small moments of normal life, but being bedridden doesn’t have to be limiting. There are plenty of activities that bedridden seniors can do that will keep them involved with the world outside their home.
Take a look at these six activities, which could be just the thing to help your loved one feel included and useful despite their limited mobility.
As always, be sure to check with your loved one’s doctor if you’re concerned about their ability to safely participate in any of these activities.
1. Bring the outside indoors
Think of the outdoor activities your loved one used to do when they were more mobile, then consider ways to bring those activities indoors.
Did they enjoy gardening? Purchase a few pots and simple plants, grab some potting soil and some handheld garden tools, and create an indoor garden for them. Set up a table near the bed, or use an over-the-bed table and help your loved one plant flowers or vegetables.
As the plants grow, continue to let your loved one care for them. Planting in pots means you can move them back and forth from the window to your loved one’s bed so they can help manage their care.
Or, maybe your loved one kills every plant they touch, but they really enjoy cookouts. Break out your best gingham tablecloth and fire up the grill. Provide all the fixings and decorations of a summertime cookout in your loved one’s room.
You can even find fun tabletop versions of outdoor games like cornhole your loved one can play with the whole family.
2. Learn a new language
Keeping the brain engaged is an important piece of keeping your loved one healthy. A variety of studies have shown that learning a second language can help prevent the development of dementia.
Make learning fun by making it a family affair. With online learning programs like Babbel or Rosetta Stone, the whole family can learn new words throughout the week. Then, when everyone gets together with your loved one, you can practice everything you’ve learned.
Once you’ve all learned enough to have a conversation, throw a dinner party with your loved one featuring food from a country that speaks the language you’ve learned and require everyone to only speak the new language.
3. Take a class
Is there something your loved one has always wanted to learn to do? Now’s a great time. Whether it’s actually earning a degree or simply learning to crochet, online classes allow your loved one to interact with other people while learning something new.
Check with your local community college, craft stores and senior centers to see if they offer interactive online classes.
Organizations like AARP also offer free online classes through their Senior Planet website. Classes range from exercise to finance to virtual museum tours.
Keeping your senior engaged with the world outside allows them to interact with people outside their immediate family and caregivers, allowing them to feel connected and valued.
4. Play games and do puzzles
Just because your loved one is bedridden doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy board games or puzzles. Games and puzzles are a great way for your loved one to interact with other people.
Consider setting up a weekly game night with some of your loved one’s friends and family. It will give them a regular activity to look forward to and provide a respite for their caregiver.
You might even consider a video game console, as studies have shown that seniors who play video games experience improved mental health. Many games can also be played online with others, giving your loved one yet another way to stay connected with those outside the walls of their home.
Just because your loved one is bedridden doesn’t mean exercise isn’t important. One of the biggest concerns for bedridden patients is disuse syndrome—when physical health declines because of immobility. This can include increased pain and discomfort as well as the loss of range of motion and muscle tone.
Making exercise a fun activity that also includes social interaction can help your loved one combat disuse syndrome. Consider incorporating exercise into family and friend visits. For example, blow up a balloon your loved one and their visitors can bat around. This helps your loved one work their arm muscles while still engaging with others—and it’s especially fun if grandchildren are in the room.
You can also incorporate a more formalized exercise program through the use of online programs or as something you and your loved one do together each day. Adding a social component to exercise will help your loved one engage and enjoy the activity.
6. Start a book or movie club
If your loved one likes to read or watch movies, put together a book or movie club. This can be in-person or done through video calls. Have everyone read the book or watch the movie separately, then plan an evening where you get together either in person or virtually to talk about the book or movie.
If you’re doing it virtually, send your loved one a box of themed snacks that go with the book or movie to eat during your club meeting.
While your loved one may be bedridden, it doesn’t have to mean the end of activities and fun. With a little creativity, you can keep your loved one active and engaged in the world around them, which can improve both their physical and mental health.