11 Meaningful Activities Seniors Can Do Indoors

Posted on: July 12, 2024

For a variety of reasons, older adults may find themselves experiencing isolation and boredom at times.

Yet taking time for activities you enjoy is one key to enjoying good mental health and staying connected to others. We’ve collected 12 ideas for simple indoor activities seniors can do, whether living alone or with a spouse. Try one or two today and see what you think!

  1. Read or listen to a book
  2. Look through photos or scrapbook
  3. Set up a video call with loved ones
  4. Practice a hobby
  5. Take an online class
  6. Exercise or focus on fitness
  7. Spend time outside
  8. Engage your spirituality 
  9. Write a memoir or fun stories
  10. Volunteer from home
  11. Get organized and spring-clean
  12. Plan for the future

11 Activities Seniors Can Do at Home


1. Read or Listen to a Book

Senior woman enjoying her time reading a book

This is the perfect time to relax indoors and revisit a favorite book or try a literary classic you’ve never read before. And even if you don’t have a hard copy at home, you have plenty of options to choose from:

  • Sites like Hoopla and the Ohio Digital Library allow you to sign in with your real-life library card and get access to thousands of books, magazines, and more online.
  • Prefer to listen to an audiobook? Audible offers a selection of free audiobooks you can listen to right now. Choose from fairy tales, classics, or even favorite children’s books.

Seniors can also make reading a book into a social activity. Try planning to read or listen to the same book as a friend or family member. Then schedule a phone, video call, or visit to discuss your progress and host a book club.


2. Look Through Photos or Scrapbook

Senior woman reminiscing past times looking through a scrapbook.

Set your mind on happy memories when you look at old photos or home videos. Older adults might find that even photos viewed dozens of times still find a way to delight.

If you enjoy scrapbooking, now is a great time to put your ideas down in your book. And if you’ve never tried your hand at it, why not start now?

Scrapbook.com is one site that offers free online classes, how-tos, a community forum, and more. Check it out if you need a little inspiration to get started.


3. Set Up a Video Call With Friends and Family

Senior couple enjoying a video call with their family.

With busy schedules and far-flung families, you may not be able to visit loved ones in person as much as you’d like. But video calling tools offer one way to see a familiar face, even if you’re far away.

All you need is internet access and a smartphone or computer with a webcam. Skype and Zoom are popular free options. You might also have FaceTime already installed with an iPhone or iPad. With an Android, Google Meet is likely already on your device.

With a little creativity, older adults can use video calls to do more than just chat – perhaps you’ll play games, watch a movie together, or give your loved ones a tour of your home.


4. Practice a Hobby

Senior man enjoying his time doing woodwork.

Revive an old hobby or start a new one. Whether you enjoy bread-baking, knitting, woodworking, or making music, seniors can do all these things at home.

Practicing a skill is not just enjoyable – it gives your brain something to do. And as you work toward mastering a skill, you might experience a gratifying state of creative flow. Being totally immersed in something you love and are creating can help you feel more relaxed, satisfied, and happy.

Today is also a perfect time to pick up a new or old hobby, with online videos, chat groups, and more all ready to help you perfect your craft.


5. Take an Online Class

Senior woman taking an online class.

Learning something new can also stem from taking a class. Online courses are more popular than ever, and you’ll be delighted to hear that Yale’s most-attended online course, “The Science of Well-Being,” is currently free and open for enrollment.

There are plenty of options available all around the web, whether you’re looking for classes about the humanities or astronomy. Coursera is one option. To earn a certificate, most courses are paid, but you can audit most of their classes for free.

Another option is Masterclass, which features classes taught by superstars – like Martin Scorsese for film, or Jane Goodall for conservation. It starts at $10 a month, billed annually, so decide if you want to commit before purchasing.


6. Exercise or Focus on Fitness

Senior women taking an exercise class

Did you know exercise has many health benefits, no matter your age? And it’s not just your fitness level that you’ll improve. Exercise can help improve your mood, get better-quality sleep, and help prevent the risk of falls, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Best of all, you can get a great workout right from your own home without any equipment. Below are some fun options for breaking a sweat.

  • 4 simple exercises you can do each day from Silver Sneakers.
  • Easy exercises including Tai Chi, barre, core workouts, and more from AARP.
  • A 6-minute strength routine from Healthline.

If you don’t like one of these options, simply searching YouTube for “senior exercises at home” will yield hundreds of easy-to-follow results. If the weather is fine, a brisk walk outdoors is also a wonderful way to lift your spirits. Speaking of being outdoors…


7. Spend Time Outside

Senior woman spending time outside walking her dog.

Technically, this isn’t an indoor activity, but you can do it from the comfort of your own porch or patio. Taking in some fresh air and moving your body can be a wonderful way to boost your mood and improve your overall well-being. Or, lace up your sneakers and go for a walk. Spending even a short time out of your house can provide a fresh perspective.

You might also choose to bring the outside in by starting a potted plant collection or indoor herb garden. Indoor gardening can give seniors a purposeful activity that yields delicious results – try it with a sunny windowsill!


8. Engage Your Spirituality

Seniors practicing their spirituality outdoors.

Whether you practice a formal religion or just enjoy time for peace and quiet, spirituality can have a profound impact on your mood.

Studies have shown that people who practice some form of spirituality – like praying or meditating – experience more positivity, a greater sense of hope, and connection to others, even if they aren’t physically nearby.

If you can’t attend a worship service or visit your church, seniors can still practice their faith at home. Spirituality doesn’t just mean going to religious services. It incorporates the way you think about some of life’s big questions and how you relate to other people.

Try one of these tips and ideas:

  • Spend quiet time in prayer or reflection. Some people enjoy journaling for this purpose. Don’t worry about perfection in your writing; focus on jotting down ideas that come to you.
  • At Otterbein, we’re open to all faiths and beliefs. We host a variety of activities like Bible studies and faith-sharing groups on campus. You might try to organize a group of your own to meet virtually or at your home.
  • Don’t forget about the power of gratitude. Even when situations seem dreary, chances are there’s still a lot to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude can help boost your mood and make you more positive over time.


9. Write a Memoir – Or Just Fun Stories

Senior man writing a memoir.

With time on your hands, it might be the perfect occasion to set down on paper (or via computer) everything about your life that you’ve ever wanted to share with others. Writing your life story can be a moving experience as you recall the bits and pieces of memories made over time.

Don’t worry about capturing everything perfectly – maybe you just want to share funny stories or moments you recall. Or maybe you want to inject your own sense of humor into past events. There’s no such thing as right or wrong here, so write away.

Never considered yourself a writer? There’s no reason you can’t start now! Get inspiration from other people who didn’t begin writing until retirement like the Scribblers at Otterbein Lebanon.


10. Volunteer From Your Home

Senior woman spending time volunteering.

There are plenty of opportunities for volunteering from the comfort of your own home. Here are a few ideas on ways seniors can make a difference in someone’s life today – all without leaving the house.

  • Make an online donation to a local food bank or charity of choice.
  • Order a meal to be delivered to a neighbor in need.
  • Call someone who may be lonely or struggling.

Some organizations also offer virtual volunteer opportunities – see examples here.


11. Get Organized and Do Some Cleaning

Otterbein employee washing dishes.

While you’re spending a lot of time in your home, you might have remembered that back bedroom that could use a good cleaning, or the basement shelves stuffed with – well, stuff.

Take some time to clear the clutter and get rid of things you don’t need or want. This can also be a good opportunity to donate items, and some organizations will come right to your door to pick up your items.

Your kitchen can be a great place to start. Get some tips for cleaning your kitchen here.


BONUS: Plan for the Future

Seniors enjoying coffee together while discussing the future.

It can be helpful to think about the future when your current situation is keeping you indoors more than you’d like. Having something to look forward to can be encouraging and uplifting.

You might think about everything from a weekend trip you want to take to where your next home will be. Plan out what you really want to do, and dream big. When you’re feeling down, think about your upcoming plans and take steps toward them to help lift your attitude.

What’s Next?

No matter how you choose to spend your time, we hope you’ll find plenty to do to keep busy, stay engaged, and remain connected to others.

Keeping your own health and wellness, and that of people around you, in tip-top shape should be your first priority. Did you know there’s more to health than just staying in shape? At Otterbein, we highlight nine areas of wellness, including:

  • Physical
  • Environmental
  • Vocational
  • Creative
  • Intellectual
  • Cultural
  • Spiritual
  • Social
  • Emotional

Learn more and get additional ideas for enhancing your wellness in our free guide: “Complete Wellness: Your Guide to a More Fulfilling Life.”

Read Nine Degrees of Wellness

This article was originally published in March 2020.