The forum is filled with people coming together to share valuable information. We’ve compiled experienced caregivers’ best suggestions for activities and opportunities that can provide valuable social interaction for elders.

Activities that Encourage Socialization

“If your loved one has always been someone who gave themselves to a good cause and it means a lot to stay engaged with other people, maybe there is a place in town for them during the day to volunteer? Try the local museum, library, pet shelter, hospital or YMCA.” –MomDaughterRN

“This would not work for everyone, but we volunteer at the humane society and take in kittens who need to be bottle fed. This has done wonders for my mother. She meets people and gets some animal therapy. She takes care of the cats and it gives her something to focus on (besides me haha.) Of course, I need to be there to supervise, but she really does well. I think as we age we need something young in our lives.” –hadenough

“Adult day care was a godsend for Mom and me. It cost $60 a day or $55 if no lunch was needed. It was available from 7:30 AM until 5 PM, and an afternoon snack was included. Mom had an opportunity to socialize and she was greeted and treated to the smiling, welcoming faces of staff. We sent her once a week. Both mom AND I enjoyed it immensely. I wish we had started doing it sooner.” –MaggieMarshall

“I wanted my dad to be more social, but since his physical capabilities are limited, he is content to be home most of the time where the environment is familiar and he feels secure. He likes having family members around for limited visits. Mostly I think he likes knowing there is someone in the house just in case he needs help. That isn't to say he wouldn't welcome a visit from a friend or be willing to go out to dinner, but he likes the familiar. If you can bring a friend into your house for dinner or a visit, I think that is a way to bridge the social gap.” –Invisible

“You might consider Meals on Wheels if you’re gone during the day—not necessarily for the food, but for the companionship. The very generous and friendly volunteers who bring my father’s meals come in and chat with him. One wants to take him out for lunch, and it’s a pleasant break in the day for him. If your loved one is a veteran, there might be programs at the American Legion or VFW halls. One of our local Big Boy restaurants has a corner devoted to veterans, with each service's logo on the wall. I'm told that vets meet there for breakfast there weekly. ROMEO (“Retired Old Men Eating Out”) is a group for senior men to get together periodically to reminisce, socialize and just renew friendships. Libraries also have a variety of programs, like coffee get-togethers, book and discussion groups, special exhibits, musical performances, and computer classes. I learned during some research yesterday that our county has a list of groups, including one religious one, which offers ‘friendship’ visits to seniors.” –GardenArtist

“If your loved one is able, you might see if there’s a way they could do the daily wellness checks on other seniors that some local organizations offer to make sure they're OK. That could help provide a sense of purpose and give them a sense of connection. If they have trouble with phones because of hearing loss, you can check out Clarity phones that are made for folks with impaired hearing. We got one for my dad and he did pretty well with it.” –blannie

“Is your loved one physically and mentally capable of volunteering? My father-in-law volunteers at a school for playground monitoring (11 AM to 1 PM) and classroom reading for 1st graders (1 PM to 2 PM). He loves it. He’s made many little friends that light up when they see him. My dad is housebound, but I try to have him talk to my son about history, too. My 7-year-old is fascinated with WWII, so I have my dad talk to him about it and help him with his school reports. I also have a friend whose dad is a retired CPA and volunteers to help seniors at tax time.” –Kimber166

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“I tutor a child in third grade once a week for 30 minutes (trying to improve his reading skills). English is not his first language. He’s reading at about the first grade level, so my reading skills don’t have to be great. Your loved one could be a big help to a bilingual student in elementary school. Consider volunteer options in your area for tutors. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction every week!” –blannie

“Try expanding on one of the things your loved one already does well. For example, they might enjoy knitting and crocheting. Instead of knitting everyone in the house green flowered sweaters over and over, I urge you to look to the nearest hospital with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). These hospitals usually accept knitted or crocheted blankets and little hats, for premature and sick babies. These soft items can be a huge comfort to a little baby. Your loved one could inquire as to what is needed at the NICU, and get the proper patterns (the blankets for preemies are TINY, so normal baby blanket patterns are usually too big). They’re so small that they’re quick and easy projects to do, and they could do a bunch before delivering them. The hospital staff will make a huge fuss over your loved one upon delivery and it will make them feel needed and accomplished.” –Angelkw