Easter is traditionally a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. Many Easter celebrations, however, are nonreligious, such as elements like the Easter bunny and dyeing Easter eggs. Because of this, there are a variety of ideas that the elderly and senior centers can use to celebrate Easter regardless of the religious beliefs of the seniors involved. Depending on the background and traditions of the senior, this holiday is a good opportunity to welcome springtime, attend church services, or engage in enjoyable craft activities.
Easter Ideas for Seniors
There are many Easter ideas for seniors to celebrate this holiday. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do anything elaborate, but that even a simple gesture is a great way to mark the passing of this holiday. Also, remember that for many people Easter is celebrated over a period of a few days leading up to Easter Sunday.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts for seniors should be easy and simple. Seniors can participate in egg decorating by coloring designs on eggs or using plastic eggs and adding stickers or glitter glue and putting candy inside. After all the eggs have been colored, the eggs can be gathered and donated to a preschool or community organization for a children’s Easter egg hunt. In this way, seniors get to participate in a nostalgic tradition. Making Easter baskets is another way to celebrate the season, as well as baking and sharing Easter cookies.
- Tip: After making baskets or crafts at a senior center, designate a table to display the creations. You could even have a contest for the best crafts, using several different categories.
Church or Songs
Many seniors may be interested in going to a church service. Services may be available at a variety of times between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. If you are unable to go to church, offer services or music at the senior center. Seniors might enjoy a special day of listening to the piano, hearing Easter songs from the past, or participating in singing. You can also read a traditional Easter poem or publish a whimsical poem in a newsletter for seniors.
- Tip: Easter songs that seniors may remember include “Easter Parade.” Try a CD by various artists, such as Happy Easter Songs.
There are a lot of simple but meaningful gestures that seniors will appreciate for the Easter season. If the senior is in a nursing home, buy an Easter lily as a gift to put into a window. This flower symbolizes hope and life and is connected to the Easter festival. You can also give seeds, or plant flowers with the senior to mark the beginning of spring or go on a bird watching field trip. Candles can also be lit as symbols of new life and rebirth.
- Tip: Ask the senior what he or she might enjoy as a symbolic way to honor the Easter holiday.
Why Celebrate Easter?
No matter what the background of the senior, there are likely Easter memories just waiting to be evoked. Celebrating Easter is a great way to reminisce about the past and welcome a new season.
It is also very important to incorporate themes from special holidays into mind-stimulating activities!
A study by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that it doesn’t matter so much what types of activities seniors engage in. The key is for seniors to participate in new and different activities that encourage them to use their brains, something that people are less apt to do in the later stages of life. Reading and writing can certainly help keep the brain active, but those are activities seniors have been engaging in for decades. Finding a new hobby can challenge the mind in exciting ways. The following is a list of activities that might be new and different to seniors, thereby increasing the mental stimulation associated with each one.
- Crossword Puzzles: Some seniors may have always ignored the Lifestyle section of their newspaper with the daily crossword puzzle, but now is a great time to start working on it.
- Painting and Drawing: Even for seniors who never thought of themselves as very artistic before this is a great activity. For newly-artistic folks, it will be tapping into a new section of their brains.
- Arts and Crafts: Participating in arts and crafts can be a great way for seniors to engage their minds while also improving hand-eye coordination.
- Bingo: There’s a reason why older people playing Bingo is such a colloquialism. It’s actually a very good brain activity to have to watch for those numbers, especially when they’re doing it on several cards at once.
- Board Games and Playing Cards: Seniors may not have played Monopoly, Life, Solitaire, or Bridge since they were younger. Now is a great time for them to pick it up again, especially if they play with their grandkids.
- Telling Stories of Their Lives: It’s not always as easy for seniors to recollect all the fabulous life stories they’ve had. They should be encouraged to record them on video or audio, or even write them down to encourage not only memory, but also writing, spelling, etc. It will also help younger generations to know where they came from, making this beneficial for multiple generations.
- Computer Activities: Computer activities can provide many benefits for seniors. Since it’s still something relatively new to lots of seniors, many resist it. However, many of those activities and games described above can be done on a computer, providing a new angle on a time-tested favorite activity.
Pairing Physical and Mental Activities
The New England Journal of Medicine study mentioned above suggests that the majority of physical activities don’t improve brain function. There is only one physical activity that was shown to improve brain function in the study: dancing. It can be as simple as doing a little dancing in the living room after dinner, or as organized as taking ballroom dance lessons.
To do a new mental activity and combine it with dance could be greatly beneficial for seniors. One such activity that would combine both would be the game Dance Dance Revolution. This is thought of as a young people’s game, but it has so many benefits for seniors if they’re up to it. It not only encourages their brains, but includes dancing skills as well.
It’s important to remember that the majority of these activities can be done in pairs or groups, which will provide not only mental stimulation, but also social connections to seniors. Encourage the seniors in your life to get together for regular game nights or art activities to keep their minds sharp and their spirits high.
Good luck, sincerely this Easter! Grove Medical wishes you all the best!