Top 5 Indoor Winter Activities for Older People

As the chilly British winter weather approaches, you may ponder different ways to keep your older relatives entertained and stimulated indoors.

It is important that we look out for our older loved ones all year round and ensure that they are exercising their cognitive skills to help prevent them from experiencing loneliness or boredom.

According to one study by Ronan M Conroy, 'Loneliness and boredom-proneness are associated with reduced cognitive function in older age, and cluster with other factors associated with cognitive reserve.'

We have put together a list of 5 indoor winter activities that have cognitive benefits for older people. Hopefully, these ideas will help your loved one remain amused and happy this winter!

Top 5 Indoor Winter Activities for older people...

1. Jigsaw puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles are a great hobby for older people to pick up during the winter months. Just like humans, puzzles come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes! Puzzles are brilliant for exercising the brain and can be done as a social activity with the family. Nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment when you place the final jigsaw piece!


  • Improved memory
  • Increased IQ
  • Improved mood
  • Improved problem-solving skills
  • Lower stress-levels
  • Improved visual-spatial reasoning

A study done by the University of Michigan even found that people who do puzzles for 25 minutes a day showed an improvement in their IQ scores by four points."

World of Medical Saviours (WOMS)

Best places to get jigsaw puzzles:

  • Local Charity shops - Find charity shops near you using Charity Retail Association's 'Find a charity shop' tool. Most charity shops will have a great selection of pre-loved or even brand-new jigsaw's to choose from!
  • Swap with friends - Do you or your loved one have any fellow jigsaw-puzzler friends? Why not help each other out and swap the ones you've completed?
  • In-store retailers - John Lewis, The Works & WHSmith are all popular High Street retail stores that sell a lovely range of puzzles from wildlife scenes, to seaside towns or beautiful landscapes.
  • Online retailers - Amazon, eBay and Photobox are all brilliant online retailers that sell a wide range of puzzles for all kinds of different abilities. Photobox allows you to order a puzzle using one of your own photos as the image!

2. Painting

Painting is a wonderfully relaxing activity that can be completed from the comfort of your loved one's own home. Painting has many health benefits including improved mental health and cognitive function. There are many forms of painting to try including watercolours, oil paints and acrylic paints. Completing a painting can work wonders for a person's self-esteem and create feelings of satisfaction.


  • Improved mood
  • Feelings of satisfaction
  • Enhanced motor skills
  • Improved mental health
  • Increased cognitive function
  • Improved coordination

People who engage in artistic activities such as painting, drawing and sculpting in both middle and old age are 73% less likely to have memory and thinking problems such as mild cognitive impairment that leads to dementia."

Study by: Rosebud O. Roberts, Ruth H. Cha, Michelle M. Mielke, Yonas E. Geda, Bradley F. Boeve, Mary M. Machulda, David S. Knopman, Ronald C. Petersen

Painting ideas:

  • Join a local art club - Your loved one's passion for painting could be a social activity! Use the SSA Communities Local Art Club Finder tool to find an art club in the area they live. Joining an art club is a great way to make new friends with shared interests and exchange ideas.
  • Create an arts & crafts area at home - Assist your loved one with creating a designated arts & crafts area or room in a well-lit area of their house. Here, they can get in the zone and enjoy some painting in the comfort of their own home. They could paint photos that they have taken, images cut from magazines or even the view from their window!
  • Card making - Sending greeting cards is still very much a tradition in the UK, particularly for the older generations. Your older loved one could begin painting cards for friends and relatives with upcoming birthdays or celebrations. A handmade card is certainly more meaningful than one bought from a shop!

Read about 3 creative art ideas to promote well-being of older people.

3. Reading

Reading is a theraputic activity which can keep your loved one entertained for hours. There's nothing like getting stuck into a good book!  Reading opens opportunities for your loved one to increase their knowledge on a particular topic or emerse themselves in a completely different world to help relieve stress.


  • Enhanced cognitive skills
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves memory, particularly short-term
  • Increase knowledge & learn new things
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves attention-span

Reading for just 6 minutes reduces stress levels by 68%, more than going for a walk, listening to music or having a cup of tea!"

University of Sussex

Best places to get books:

  • Charity shops - Charity shops always have a wide selection of pre-loved books available at a fraction of the brand-new price! Find charity shops near you using Charity Retail Association's 'Find a charity shop' tool. Your loved one could even donate books that they have already read at the same time to make more room for new ones!
  • Libraries - Libraries are the perfect place to find a new book to read! You can find your loved one's local library using Gov UK's local library services tool. Just make sure that your loved one makes a note of when the book needs to be returned!
  • Online retailers - Amazon, and World of Books are great online retailers that sell either new or used books
  • Bookstores - Waterstones is no doubt the most popular bookstore seen on the High Street. There's nothing like the smell of new books when you walk into a bookstore! Why not take your loved one on a shopping trip and pop in to pick a book?


Find out ways that you can help a loved one cope with vision loss.

  • Dexterity difficulties - As we age, we become more prone to a loss of dexterity in our hands which can be caused by a range of conditions such as arthritis, carpel tunnel syndrome and ganglion cysts. These can affect a person's ability to physically hold and grip a book, particularly for periods of time. Fortunately, there are still ways that people with dexterity problems can enjoy reading:

Research suggests that as many as one in three elderly persons has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65 years."

David A. Quillen, M.D

4. Bird Watching


  • Improved mental health
  • Can enjoy it from the comfort of your own home
  • Doesn't require mobility
  • Decreases stress & anxiety

Useful equipment:

Birdwatching Tips:

5. Baking


  • Reduces stress
  • Stimulates the senses
  • Promotes independence
  • Triggers memories
  • Encourages creativity
  • You get to eat whatever you bake at the end!

Baking for others can increase a feeling of well-being, contribute to stress relief and make you feel like you’ve done something good for the world, which perhaps increases your meaning in life and connection with other people.”


Where to find simple baking recipes:


  • EquipmentMake sure your loved one has appropriate equipment which isn't too heavy for them - it's best to ensure that they have lightweight shatterproof options that won't smash if dropped.
  • AbilitiesPeople's abilities vary and can be affected by a variety of factors such as ageing, health and cognitive function. It’s important to think about the practicalities of your loved one baking solo. It may be that they need the support of someone else. Safety always comes first!
  • Recipe difficulty levelIt’s probably best for your loved one to stay away from complex recipes that have an ‘Intermediate’ difficulty level so that baking doesn't have the opposite effect on their well-being and cause them stress.
  • Food intolerances - Does your loved one have any food intolerances? If so, they may appreciate your support with finding suitable recipes or researching substitute products that they can use.

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