What do you think of when you hear the word ‘toys?’ Most likely, it calls to mind little kids with train sets, tricycles, or perhaps even popular board games like Life or Monopoly. But kids don’t have a monopoly on toys...the seniors in your life can really benefit from them, too! Whether a toy is specifically created for seniors or repurposed, it may help with cognitive abilities, emotional stability, or increased physical dexterity. Let’s take a look at some toys and other objects that can bring great joy and help to the older loved ones in your life!
Toys for Physical Dexterity
You’ve probably seen the classic ball and wire structures that are in many pediatric waiting rooms, daycares, and other places you’ll find children. But these colorful, simple toys are a great way for anyone - especially those in senior care - to practice fine motor skills. Moving the ball up, down, and around the wire can also help with concentration and cognitive skills as well. Other toys that fit into this category are stackable objects, things that can be threaded, and most artistic tools like paintbrushes, colored pencils, etc.
Toys for Companionship
It’s a sad truth, but many seniors in our society become lonely in their later years, especially as they begin to lose spouses, partners, and other loved ones. While there is no perfect substitute for human companionship (see our services for in home care), there are some toys that have proven to be wonderful for creating a sense of caretaking and responsibility among seniors, especially those with cognitive difficulties like Alzheimer’s or dementia. These include lifelike robotic animals that respond to touch and motion to plain old stuffed animals or dolls! Hasbro has recently released a “Joy for All” line of toys specifically designed for the elderly. These “animals” (currently only cats) do not need food, water, veterinary care, or bathroom breaks, but they do purr and roll over in response to touch. Even if you don’t get an electronic animal, consider toys like baby dolls to give seniors a sense of purpose and caring for something.
Toys for Mental Acuity
There are a lot of ways to maintain (or sometimes improve!) cognitive function as we age, and the great news is that a lot of them are free or relatively cheap. Simple acts like filling out a crossword once a day, or setting up a weekly card game (poker, spades, euchre, etc) can help sharpen concentration, and provide opportunities for social interaction as well. Games that have typically been made for children, like the popular “Memory” game, can be repurposed for seniors as well. Of course, BINGO is a time-tested winner for seniors that can help with mental acuity as well.
Even though toys are great for kids, they might be even better for seniors...especially those who want to keep their senses and their wits as sharp as possible. Whether you’re a professional caretaker or a family member, all of these toys and games are great resources for caregivers. They can be brought to those receiving in home care, or purchased as birthday, Mother’s or Father’s Day, etc gifts. And now we want to know...what toys and games have you used with great success for the seniors in your life?