Finding activities for elderly nursing home residents, who often have wildly varying competencies, can be frustrating. Incorporating activities geared toward those with vision impairments such as low vision can be even more challenging.
Engaging those with low vision in individual or group activities is possible if activities are designed to provide stimulation that is not dependent on sight. In addition, many activities that are ideal for those with low vision are easily adaptable for solo or group use.
Word and Trivia Games
Not all games require dice, cards, or high vision. Word and trivia games allow even those with limited vision to be involved in the fun.
Trivia games targeted to the elderly provide a fun activity that engages the mind. Use trivia books or games designed for seniors and give out prizes to the winners.
Riddles and brainteasers also keep the brain active, regardless of vision level. Other word games, such as spelling bees, hangman, and fill-in-the-blank played on large whiteboards or presentation paper are fun and engaging for those with low vision.
Activities that focus on hearing rather than sight are perfect for those with low vision.
Listening to music is an activity that can be enjoyed one on one or in a group. Group listening activities allow for discussion of performances and reminiscing. Sing-alongs allow groups to enjoy and sing together songs they know and love.
Enjoying radio programs from yesteryear is another audio activity that is great for individual or group activities. The wide range of available radio programs from the 1930s to the 1950s means there's something for everyone's tastes: serials, comedies, and celebrity broadcasts. The memories these broadcasts prompt makes this a perfect activity for groups.
Elderly adults with low vision levels who have a love for literature do not have to miss out on their favorite books and magazines. Audio or magnified readers allow residents with a low vision level to enjoy literature in spite of vision loss.
Magnified readers or projectors can increase text size, allowing residents with low vision to read books and magazines. Large-print books and magazines make reading even easier.
Audio books, available on CD or special audio-book machines, read books, magazines, and other materials to people with low vision. Audio books and magazines can be enjoyed individually or in a group, allowing for activities such as book- or magazine-discussion groups.
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts activities can be successful with elderly residents with low vision.
Crafts such as pottery, knitting and crocheting, and some woodwork projects are suitable for those with low vision. Elderly residents who have enjoyed these activities in the past will require little assistance, although teaching these crafts to residents with low vision who have never attempted them in the past may be challenging.
Art projects such as collages, decoupage, and painting on large formats are recommended for seniors with low vision because they require little detailed work.
A writer and information professional, J.E. Cornett has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lincoln Memorial University and a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of Kentucky. A former newspaper reporter with two Kentucky Press Association awards to her credit, she has over 10 years experience writing professionally.