Jordan Fuller

While the COVID-19 pandemic presses on, the period of social isolation is keeping families from visiting and spending time with loved ones in nursing homes. The challenge of keeping residents 6 feet apart has driven a need to become creative when it comes to activities to keep seniors engaged so that the social distancing normal that has become daily life doesn’t turn into isolation.

After some research, here are some of the more creative ideas:

Hallway ice cream socials/birthday parties

Everyone likes ice cream, so how about adding some fun ice cream parties for the residents during the warmer days? Have some unique events that can get everyone involved by having plastic spoons for everyone, and have a cart pass along the hallway to put on a tasting party. Affix coolers to the carts and have ice cream toppings set up for a “make-your-own” sundae party or load bags of popsicles to pass out along the hallway with everyone sitting in wait. If there’s room in a common area to keep everyone properly spaced, have everyone together for an ice cream social, or celebrate any birthdays that may have happened or been upcoming.

Play a little ‘golf’

If the common area has the room, gather some portable indoor putting greens and set up some obstacles to challenge the players as they make their way through the “course” and have a mini-golf tournament. You can even coordinate with the pros and have rounds during the week building up to a big Sunday tournament. If your residents are even more eager to take a swing, with a little investment indoor golf simulators are becoming more affordable and common. With a couple of senior clubs and a relatively modest simulator setup, residents can have the feel of being back on the course again.

Take an armchair vacation

With the help of technology, many senior communities are taking “virtual trips” to foreign countries and exotic locations across the globe. Google Earth is an amazing way to make a trip to nearly anywhere while staying in place. Maybe find locations that residents have been to before, or where they spent their honeymoon or anniversary vacation and search the internet and see what it looks like now. If they have photos from their trips, they can compare the new views online with those from their journeys, For the more adventurous, take a new trip to explore the colorful reefs of the Caribbean or the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. Take it a step further, and have a “Travel Day”, having staff dress as pilots, flight attendants or hotel staff to make the “trip” one to remember.

Doorway bingo

Who doesn’t like to play bingo? Have all the residents sit in their doorways with a bedside table, and pass out bingo cards and chips. Then all you need is a central location to call out the letter and numbers, and you have a socially distanced bingo game.

In-room scavenger hunts

Pass out some magazines and books, and have residents go on a scavenger hunt looking for certain items within the publications. Have them cut them out and make collages and give prizes for the resident with the most items found.

Jordan Fuller is a retired golfer. He also writes about golf on his golf publication site,