Many seniors living in age-in-place communities can find themselves with plenty of time on their hands, but not many ways to fill up that time.
If you’re living in such a community and you’re looking for a fun and productive hobby that is good for your wellbeing, consider sprucing up your suite with natural life. Having a living thing to care for makes every day more enjoyable. Below, we present the benefits as well as some easy ways to get started.
1. Get Some Houseplants
Connecting with nature reduces stress and anxiety, and bringing some houseplants into your suite is an easy way to do this. This is especially important for less mobile seniors, who may have trouble getting outside by themselves. Having different plants around you can also provide you with sensory stimulation, which may help to slow down the progress of diseases like Alzheimer’s.
If you’re not sure where to start, join the gardening club at your seniors residence, or ask around at your local nursery. They will be able to find you plants that you’ll be able to care for according to your level of experience. As well, make sure to keep your plants in places that are not too high or too low; you’ll likely want to inspect your plants often to check on their growth, and putting a plant in a hard-to-reach spot can make this extremely difficult.
2. Get an Aquarium
Studies have proven that watching fish can relieve stress. They’re also an excellent pet for seniors who are unable to care for a companion that needs constant care and attention. On top of that, taking care of an aquarium is a great way for you to establish an easy routine. Having a routine has been shown to relieve feelings of anxiety, leading to lower levels of stress.
Aquariums can be easy to care for, depending on how you decide to set them up. Many beginners may want to start with a small tank, but consider getting a slightly larger tank if you have space in your suite; smaller tanks are more sensitive to changes in water chemistry, making them a bit more demanding to maintain. A slightly larger tank also means you have more options when it comes to choosing fish.
The joys of choosing the composition of the fish in your tank can be great fun.
- For color and vibrancy, choose a few eye-catching neon tetras for your tank. They’re known for being a calm fish, and because they only reach 2.2 cm. in average length, you can stock your tank with a bunch
- Guppies are a great addition to any tank because they’re easy to care for. They also have fun personalities so expect them to dart around the tank all day long.
- A less-common fish the rainbow fish is also easy to care for. Peaceful to the point of shyness, these fish will enjoy hiding behind any plants or sunken ships you add to your tank.
3. Get A Dog
Many seniors’ residences, such as All Seniors Care Living Centres, have recognized the importance of having a pet, and allow seniors to keep a pet in their suite at no additional charge. This is because pets in general, but especially dogs, allow seniors to practice mindfulness, or the ability to focus on the present moment. This can help you cope with stressful situations by sharing love and affection with a furry friend. Dogs are also a great excuse for you to get outside to enjoy some exercise and socialization.
There are many great low-impact breeds for seniors that you might consider.
- A poodle is a great choice, balancing low energy and low shedding with high trainability.
- A Yorkshire terrier is a great lapdog option. Also a low shedder, these protective breeds will always be by your side.
- A Boston terrier is well-behaved and highly trainable, making them a terrific choice for anyone looking for a cuddly companion.
While you can certainly purchase a dog from a reputable breeder, consider going to a shelter to adopt an older dog. Older dogs generally have established personalities, so you’ll be able to better judge if the dog you’re getting is compatible with your lifestyle. They’re also more likely to already understand acceptable boundaries and behaviors. On top of that, older dogs can be adopted from shelters for a lower fee. Not only will you be saving a life, but you’ll be enhancing your own life, too.
Taking care of another living thing can give your life a sense of purpose, which results in a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. And there’s no time like the present to bring one home.