16 January 2008

Be an active elderly person

Here are guidelines on how to keep your mind active.

Have you ever thought about how you can be active and healthy in your home environment and community, without incurring high expenses?

Here are a few practical guidelines for your everyday life:

Family and friends

  • Stay (positively) in touch with family and friends, e.g. send birthday cards, write letters, phone.
  • Undertake stimulating outings: go to the beach together, go out for coffee, attend sport matches, go away for a weekend.
  • Spend quality time together to create memories.
  • Visit a friend at least once a week.


  • Become involved with spiritual activities e.g. church or meditation.
  • Create time to think and focus.
  • Join a church group along with other elderly people.

  • Keep yourself busy with household chores.
  • Exercise within your physical limits e.g. walking, swimming, bowling.
  • Make a point to go for regular examinations.
  • Follow a balanced diet.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol and nicotine.
  • Rest regularly – do not take an afternoon nap if you have difficulties sleeping at night.


  • Keep a monthly budget.
  • Draw up a shopping list.
  • Go to the shops to do your own shopping, to compare prices, to be on the lookout for bargains.

Brain stimulating activities

  • Cognitive stimulation e.g. crossword puzzles, attending discussion groups, building puzzles, brainteasers.
  • Be informed about what is happening by reading newspapers and listening to the news, in order to have meaningful conversations.
  • Keep track of the financial markets.
  • Watch educational television programmes e.g. 50/50, Who wants to be a millionaire.
  • Enjoy clubs/groups e.g. bingo, cards, bridge, birding clubs.
  • Play boardgames with family and friends e.g. Scrabble, Dominoes, Trivial Pursuit.
  • Learn new hobbies e.g. basic woodwork, how to use the internet, painting, ballroom dancing.
  • Read both fiction and non-fiction.
  • Listen to music/the radio.
  • Start a collection e.g. stamps, porcelain dolls.
  • Start a cultural interest group and attend plays, musicals, shows, read poetry and literature, visit museums.


  • Complete taks in and around the home.
  • Enjoy working in the garden or caring for potplants.
  • Make your services available as a voluntary worker e.g. making teddybears for the “Beertjie Projek” at Tygerberg Hospital, baking for bazaars.
  • Learn how to use electronic equipment e.g. cellphones and computers.
  • Learn new skills e.g. how to send e-mails to your grandchildren.
  • File your accounts, letters etc. regularly.

Use the above ideas effectively to keep yourself active and on the go!

Written by Liesl Jonker, occupational therapist.

For more information visit: Dementia SA: or Alzheimer’s South Africa:


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