What to Do When You’re Homebound: 7 Activity Ideas for Seniors and Caregivers

For seniors who are bedbound or homebound (as well as their caregivers), it’s important to stay engaged and active. Here are 7 ideas to inspire you.By Michelle Seitzer

Before his dementia advanced, my grandfather was busy creating woodcarvings and other treasures in his workshop—his strong, work-worn hands guiding heavy pieces of wood through table saws with ease and grace. But when he lost the ability to walk, getting him to the workshop was next to impossible – not to mention he wouldn’t have been able to safely manipulate the tools and equipment.

For seniors who are bedbound or homebound (as well as their caregivers), it’s important to stay engaged and active in order to avoid depression, isolation, and boredom, which can sometimes lead to other physical ailments too (i.e. bedsores, insomnia, weight loss). Here are 8 activity ideas to inspire you:

  1. Explore the world via the World Wide Web. Some older adults are still hesitant about using computers, but there are so many ways to get online these days – and so much to do when there – that it’s often worth the time, expense, and effort of introducing it. Look up your alma mater, , play games, stay in touch with family and friends, make new friends, research everything you’ve wondered about: the possibilities are endless.
  2. Mind the view. This is especially important for those who are bedbound. In the article Staying Happy When You’re Homebound, you’ll find great suggestions for keeping the view outside the window(s) interesting, and how they can be  a source of ongoing intrigue and activity (i.e. people-watching, bird-watching, gardening).
  3. Board games don’t have to be boring. From Scrabble to solitaire and jigsaw puzzles to Jenga, games are a great way to connect generations and keep caregivers/carees from resorting to hours of mindless TV-watching. If you’re open to digital games, there’s a host of them online, and many retirement communities have found the Wii to be a wonderful way for seniors to stay physically active without leaving the building.
  4. Write a letter or call someone — without using a computer. It’s such a simple activity, but has great benefits. Correspondence keeps you socially connected, gives you something to look forward to, and ensures that someone outside the house knows how you’re doing.
  5. Tinker. So maybe you can’t work on a vehicle or build a piece of furniture if you’re bedbound, but there are certainly smaller items you can take apart and reassemble, refurbish, and rewire.
  6. Do something creative or learn something new. Drawing, knitting, crocheting, painting, calligraphy, working with modeling clay, writing poetry, listening to music or lectures: these can all be done at home and even from bed.
  7. Work/volunteer. Whether it’s making follow-up calls or providing advice to businesses or tutoring students, many jobs can be done from home these days. Learn more in this article from AARP: Work from Home Jobs for Retirees. Or do it the old-fashioned way: look up a few local non-profits in your phone book and call to see if they need any help.

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Comments (5)

  1. Chazah  March 20, 2015

    What a wonderful blog. I am not elderly but I am housebound and I love my computer and activities online, but there is one activity I love above all… Skyping!! Its free and you can chat to anyone anywhere in the world. I love it so much as it keeps me in contact with my family overseas. My eldest son lives in England, he’s married and they now have a little girl. Every week we skype and chat and interact with my son, daughter-i-Lw and g’daughter … its wonderful and helps me with the feelings of isolation and depression that overwhelms me at times. Please would u kindly include this in your blog? Many housebounds can chat away for a few mins to a few hours if they want too and make new friends with other housebound ppl. Thk u. Many blessings and kind regards, Chazah [South Africa]

  2. Michelle Seitzer  September 30, 2013

    Thanks for your comments, Nancy! Glad you can affirm that staying active mentally is an important part of healthy aging (of course, alongside of staying active physically and socially). I’m pleased that you found the post informative!

  3. Nancy Weikel, RN  September 29, 2013

    A good aspect about the things you mentioned – board games, tinkering, and learning something new – is that they keeps the mind active. In working with the elderly over time, I’ve found that the ones who just sit on the couch and watch TV all day don’t do nearly as well as the ones who keep active mentally, physically (to the best extent possible) and socially. Keeping busy and interacting with hobbies and people keeps the mind more sharp and creates longevity for the person. Keeping active and being social can add decades to a person’s life. As you suggest, it is very important.

    Thanks for the post, it was informative.

  4. Michelle Seitzer  September 16, 2013

    Thanks for your comment. We’re glad you liked the post and we’re happy to have shared it here!
    You’re absolutely right on both points! The internet is a great connector and resource, offering an avenue to interaction despite being homebound.

  5. Home Care Pulse  August 16, 2013

    While the Internet will never be able to fully mimic real, social interaction, for someone who is homebound, it can be a great way to stay connected. Smart devices like iPads and other tablets are also beneficial, because they’re user friendly, but still require engagement and the focus of the senior in order to be used.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.