Seniors, Stay Engaged and Stay Active This Winter

January 26, 2021

Staying active and engaged at home during the long winter months takes a little determination and foresight, but is not impossible! Prioritize your overall mental, physical and social well-being, stretching your creative mind to come up with new and safe activities during this unprecedented time! Become your own activities director and use these ideas to plan your days with fun things you and your loved one can look forward to.

Do an Art Project or Craft. Some of us have hobbies that come naturally, like knitting or woodworking, but many of us need a little inspiration to begin a new project. With local craft stores and so many online resources, it is easy to find a new craft you might enjoy. Or take turns with a family member to share your skills!

  • Decorate something that will create a nice aroma for your home! Link here to a video instruction by McLean Home Care Community Liaison Tully Meyer to learn how to make an orange and clove fragrant ornament that you can keep in your home all year long.
  • Learn how to scrapbook! Scrapbooking is a creative way to spend your time, while also helping to declutter your home by using many of your old family photos taking up space in your drawer. It is fun to reminisce while putting your book together — you may event want to gift your book to a child or grandchild. Local craft stores or online shops will have all the materials you need to get started.
  • Make your own valentines for family members or local organizations!

Plan an Exercise Routine. One of the benefits of living in Connecticut is the having the option to walk out the front door and be able to take in the fresh air and stroll around our neighborhoods or local recreation spots. When the temperature dips too low and walkways become icy, set up a yoga mat or arm chair, and develop a routine you can do safely in the comfort of your home. Virtual classes can be found online and through local senior centers. Tune into SCTV Tuesday mornings at 8:30 and 11:30 for a class taught by McLean Boundless Wellness Instructor Kimberly Wright, to learn some of the exercises she teaches our Independent Living and Assisted Living residents, or link here for a demonstration.

Here are some simple balance exercises you can try:

Marching in Place – Stand behind a sturdy chair, table or counter for balance; lift your right leg up as high as you can (bending at the knee), lower your leg and then raise your left leg up while bending at the knee. Repeat two sets of 20 repetitions twice a day.

Leg to the Side- This exercise should also be performed with a sturdy chair, table or counter as balance. Keep knee straight, moving involved leg outward. Return to starting position and repeat with other leg. Keep trunk upright. Repeat two sets of 20 repetitions twice a day

Take Part in Virtual Activities. Zoom events, classes and tours have become so popular, you can visit a world- renowned museum and listen to speakers covering an unlimited variety of topics without leaving your family room couch. People are setting up their own activities through Zoom and Facetime, too; book clubs, card games, and social visits/celebrations. It is free to set up an account at

Bake/Cook. Now is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes or cook up some old favorites. If you are living alone, make extra to freeze or surprise a neighbor with a home-cooked meal or dessert! McLean’s Executive Chef has some ideas here you might want to try. Call us at 860-658-3786 if you would like the full recipe emailed to you.

For fun activities you and your loved one can do together in your kitchen, decorate cookies, make playdough or plan a themed meal together. McLean’s Dining often plans themes to coincide with holidays, international meals or national appreciation days like National Chocolate Cake Day! An impromptu holiday lifts everyone’s spirits and quickly turns the dining experience into a more festive event. Set up your own hot chocolate, coffee, or oatmeal bar with a variety of toppings, or make ice cream sundaes.

Play Background Music or a Podcast. The house doesn’t seem as empty when there is enjoyable background music or voices to listen to, plus music has been proven to help lift spirits and bring comfort to those with memory loss. From streaming services to YouTube, or simply popping in your favorite CD, …you and your loved one can enjoy watching a live performance or dance or simply listening to some uplifting tunes. Do you have an Amazon Alexa? Test your skills and play “Name That Song” together!

Explore podcasts that sound interesting, or listen to a book read through Audible. There are so many interesting topics to learn about, many of them for free.

Pamper Yourself – If you aren’t comfortable going to your local nail salon or for a massage, treat yourself to some hydrating lotions, a new nail color, and some scented oils for your bath. Soak your tired feet in bath salts while you catch up on your favorite show during the evening. Look for new herbal tea flavors to warm you on a cold winter afternoon.

Play Games – Games have most likely been a favorite pastime since you were a child, and many of the classics are still around to enjoy: a deck of cards, an old family board game, even the crossword puzzle in the newspaper. Puzzles are not only fun but are a great way to exercise your brain. Set up a table and work on a jigsaw puzzle that you can glue together and frame when you are finished. Or organize a virtual game with grandchildren or a group of friends.

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe and healthy this winter, and have some fun creating new things. There is so much you can do together to make each day a little more interesting!

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