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Playful Wellness: Fun Activities with Grandchildren to Keep Aging Adults Active

An Elderly Man Bonding with his Granddaughter at a Park

Spending time with your grandchildren is one of the greatest joys in life. You get to build your relationships with them and also see the world from their youthful perspectives. Nevertheless, there are a few ways you can use this time to get benefits in other areas.

A sense of playfulness can boost your mood and bolster your physical wellness. This is so vital as you get older, as being consistently active can become more challenging. It’s well worth thinking carefully about the types of activities you can do with your grandkids to maximize the fun while keeping your mind and body healthy.

Head to the Pool

If your senior living community has its own pool, or there’s one nearby, taking to the water can be a great activity with your grandkids. This doesn’t just have to be about swimming or lounging around in the sun. A few focused aquatic activities can offer physical benefits for you and your family. It improves cardiorespiratory health and can reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression. You’ll also find that time in the water puts less pressure on your bones and muscles while also strengthening them.

So, what are some of the fun activities you could do?

     Basketball: Don’t worry, no one’s expecting you to figure out how to dribble a ball underwater. Instead, you can place a floating basketball hoop at the end of the pool. You and your grandkids then take turns devising and attempting creative shots from different points in the pool.

     Water tag: This is basically the same as tag on dry ground, except you’re swimming. If you have grandkids that aren’t strong swimmers, you could adopt this so everyone doggy paddles or treads water.

     Follow-the-leader: Combine swimming with creative physical actions. Make sure each grandchild takes turns in being the leader, moving around the pool in funny, interesting, or challenging ways. Everyone else must try to mimic and follow these movements.

Remember to prioritize your own pool needs here, though. Struggles with mobility don't necessarily prevent you from being active. However, perhaps inquire with administrators at your senior care community about installing a chair lift or other mobility aids poolside. It’s also wise to simply do some warming-up exercises before you head into the water. This is something you can also make part of the fun with your grandchildren, turning some gentle stretches into a “Simon says” style game.

Embark on Scavenger Hunts

Declining cognition is one of the most frustrating — and scary — parts of aging. The good news is that exercise can help prevent brain shrinkage and improve functioning. Research suggests that it may increase the thickness of gray matter and even minimize brain cellular degeneration. This means that your activities with your grandchildren can boost your brain and your body. 

So, why not consider activities that maximize both elements? Embarking on the occasional scavenger hunt with your grandchildren combines fun, puzzle-solving, and physical movement.

If you want to devise your own scavenger hunt, some of the steps you should take include:

     Choose a location: Find a space where you can practically hide clues and objects, as well as one that’s practical to navigate. This might be an area around your senior living community. It could also be around town or local woodland. Map out in advance what elements you’d like your grandkids to explore.

     Devise your riddles: This is where exercising your brain comes into the equation. Figure out clues that your grandkids have to figure out to find the next location of the scavenger hunt. Aim to make these challenging, but also age-appropriate.

     Build in some tasks: Don’t just make the hunt about finding items and places. Include some tasks they need to perform at each location, such as dancing, a ball game, or singing. This adds some physical activities that you can join them in and boost the fun factor. 

Sometimes, though, it’s more fun to answer the riddles with your grandkids, rather than simply set them. Perhaps talk to activities coordinators in your senior living community. Suggest that they arrange a scavenger hunt that your neighbors and their grandkids can also get involved with. This can make for an enriching event for your whole community.

Go Foraging

If you live near some woodland or a National Park, foraging can be a fantastic activity to do with your grandchildren. It’s a chance to share in the wonders of the natural world and learn a little more about the world around you. It’s also a chance for you all to breathe some fresh air, get a little gentle aerobic exercise, and stretch your cognitive faculties. If this is already one of your hobbies, you can also find that sharing it with your grandchildren can strengthen the bonds you share.

There are a few ways you can approach foraging for fun. Certainly, you can look for edible items and use these to create a meal together later. Another option is to forage for natural materials for creative projects back at home, such as collages or sculptures.

This type of activity definitely benefits from some preparation. Some things to consider include:

     Target items: Different landscapes will have different items you can forage for. Think about the types of ingredients or materials you would like your grandkids to collect and learn about. This will help you to identify the most appropriate locations to forage in.

     Identification tools: Whether you’re teaching your grandchildren about nature or learning alongside them, it’s important to have accurate information. Get a reliable foraging identification book or mobile app to take with you. This also helps to keep you and your grandkids safe if you’re planning to eat the items you find.

     Dress for the season: Make sure you and your grandchildren have clothes to match the conditions and landscapes you’re visiting. Dressing appropriately for the weather will help keep you comfortable and safe outdoors. In the fall, dress in layers. Thermal tops act as an insulating base to keep warm, while looser outer clothing allows you freedom of movement. In summer months, use wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses that keep you cool and protect you from exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Be open to making time to play while you forage, too. The hunt for items can be fascinating, but break this up with periods purely dedicated to fun. Run around a little, play hide-and-seek, or explore new spaces. This makes the experience more relaxed.


By carefully designing some fun activities with your grandchildren, you can also experience physical, cognitive, and psychological benefits. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to treat your time together as some kind of strict wellness program. Your first priority should always be to enjoy one another’s company, after all. Nevertheless, paying a little consideration to your needs can help you find more delightful and creative ways to stay healthy.

Written By

Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about people, aging, wellness, and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.

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