15 uplifting activities for people with limited mobility

15 uplifting activities for people with limited mobility

Found In: Activities Articles Alzheimer's & Dementia One-on-One

Elderly people who are confined to bed for long periods of time because of diagnosis or frailty often experience severe mood swings. They get tired of sitting or lying down, become bored with life and miss social contact with others.
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People who are confined to bed for long periods of time because of diagnosis or frailty often experience severe mood swings. They get tired of sitting or lying down, become bored with life and miss social contact with others.

In nursing homes, these residents sometimes have mild dementia and other times more serious conditions. They often do not move from their beds unless staff place them on a wheelchair or 'comfy' chair and take them for a walk.

The Greatest Gift You Can Give Someone is Your Time

For these residents, the most important thing you can do is to give them your undivided attention as frequently as possible. Let them know that they are loved and valued; that they have not been forgotten. If you don't have the time, find a volunteer to help you.

Here are some one-on-one activities and ideas you can use to make the most of the time you have with them. Adjust them to suit your residents.

15 Uplifting Activities for People with Limited Mobility

1. Learn some words in a new language
Learn a few words from different languages to communicate with your non-English speaking residents. Simple sentences such as 'good morning', 'hello', 'hungry?', 'are you in pain?'. Look for someone to teach you the proper pronunciation. Learning to say some words in a new language is fun!

Related: Learning Opportunities for the Elderly in Long Term Care

2. Enjoy some brain games
Books of riddles / quizzes / word searches / sudoku and arithmetic logic are available at Newspaper shops. They provide endless hours of entertainment and fun; they are also inexpensive. Sit with your resident and work on a riddle or word search together to inspire them.

Related: Collection of Riddles

3. Write a letter or read a poem
Find out if your client would like to write a card or a letter to a friend or relative. Encourage and assist with this task. Also, read some poems to your client; Poems about friendship, Mother's and Father's Day, love, comic poems, limericks etc. It is a good topic of conversation and excellent for reminiscing.

Related: Poetry to Share

4. Visit the garden
It is important that people unable to ambulate by themselves spend some time outdoors on a daily basis (not in the sun). Daylight helps maintain their circadian clock and absorb Vitamin D, while at the same time enjoying the sights and sounds of the outdoors.
Related: Outdoor Activities

5. Provide a bird companion
Some residents enjoy solitary pursuits and some have probably been loners all their lives. A feisty budgie would be a great companion and distraction in the privacy of their own room. This activity would require a staff member or volunteer to assist with cleaning the cage on a regular basis.

Related: 15 Activities for Loners & Introverted Seniors

6. Entertain with old time movies & tv shows
Offer magazines, books and DVDs of their choice. Ask relatives what TV shows and movies they enjoyed, what kind of music and films they like etc. If possible watch the movie yourself and have a discussion about it later.

Related: Holiday Movie Recommendations for the Elderly

7. Offer comfort gifts
Gifts such as warm socks, satin pillows, tote bags, a baby blanket (for sensory stimulation and warming hands in the winter months) are suitable.

Related: How to Make TwiddleMuffs

8. Provide a relaxing massage
Before giving a massage to bedfast residents, consult senior health staff. There are some contra-indications to be careful of. Use pure essential oils mixed with a base of sweet almond oil or avocado oil. A hand or foot massage provides comfort, may relieve pain and is a good time to have a chat.

Related: Aromatherapy for the Elderly

9. Indulge in some delicious food
Find out what they love to eat - perhaps a different dessert or something typical to their country and offer it to them. If you have multi-cultural residents, you may engage the relatives in this activity by asking them to participate in a group cooking session with a popular national dish from their country.

Related: Cooking Activities

10. Get active with upper body exercises
Playing balloons one-on-one is a good upper body exercise. Singing songs with actions is another way to exercise the upper body; Songs such as: ‘YMCA’ and ‘Macarena’ are good to start with.

Related: Activities Incorporating Exercise

11. Become a beauty therapist for the ladies
Moisturize their faces, comb their hair, do their nails and put on some lipstick if they like it. Tender loving care does wonders for people confined to bed for long periods of time.

Related: Beauty Therapy Activity

12. Make paper airplanes with the men
Learn how to make some interesting paper airplanes and spend some time with your client making them.

Related: Paper Planes Reminiscing Game

13. Stimulate the sense with mobiles and wind chimes
Hang mobiles of birds, nature, African animals, cars, fishes and children from the ceiling so the resident has a nice view of something interesting. Change it weekly.

Related: Sensory Stimulation with Wind Chimes

14. Play Music
Music reduces stress and lifts spirits. The radio should be tuned into a station of their choice or if possible, provide them with an ipod with a playlist of music from their youth. If they speak a language other than English, borrow CDs from your local library with music from their country.

Related: The Benefits of Individual Music Activities for the Elderly

15. Put together some jigsaw puzzles
Large jigsaw puzzles with 16 to 24 pieces are ideal for the bed side table. Find puzzles with beautiful images for reminiscing - scenery, animals or even tools and objects from the past.

Good Luck!

Remember the best gift you can give a person with limited mobility is the gift of your time; just being there to hear them or hold their hand.

We'd love to hear your feedback!
What activities have you found to work well for people confined to bed?

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Comments   Post a Comment

Mel 20th Sep 2023
what are the different activities that can be suggested to an elderly who is bedridden and have arthritis in fingers?
The person loves to talk but have dementia
Susan 23rd Sep 2023 Activity Director
Hi Mel
Talking is a great activity so let this person talk
Singing is also a great thing to do
If you want to be creative, then you can take a song and change it or add to it
One I’d like to do is if you’re happy and you know it and think of all the things you can do that start with every letter of the alphabet or just random things see how many he can remember which will help the memory
Bobbie 18th Dec 2022
Our residents are very fond of an inflated dice, I call it ‘math dice’ they roll the dice twice, then they call out the answer, I write it down and the winner is announced after everyone has had a turn.
Susan 19th Dec 2022 Activity Director
Good idea, Bobbie
Marion 9th Aug 2021
My husband has Alzheimer’s along with Adisons, diabetes, illeostomy, and small tumour, on his kidney, and is awaiting to have a cancer removed from his face. I am finding what I can do to give him a break from being continually in bed he sometimes sits in his chair but I would love the help to get him in his wheelchair carera s don’t have the time. If you know of any organisation that could help I would appreciate it as I do not want him in a nursing home.
Susan 9th Aug 2021 Activity Director
Hi Marion
I am sure there a resources in your community
You could contact an elder care association Alzheimer’s Association
You could also think about hospice care
It’s not just for end of life but for those who need extra
Hospice will provide many resources for you
Helen 24th Jun 2021 Home Manager
For us at Heartfelt if someone is mobile there is nothing like a bit of sunshine. A stroll in the garden.
We have a man coming back from hospital having broken his femur. Not possible to operate. Need every idea to keep a busy deaf man in bed for 2 to 3 weeks. the fishing pole with magnet sounded good. thanks,
Donna 30th May 2021
These are a few suggestions that come to mind. I hope they are helpful.
For some people a Tablet may be ideal. Games, books to read, or Audio books, movies, puzzles, articles of interest, are available on them, often free. It may not be known that some people use to crochet. Inquire of family about this. I have crocheted for years, so maybe some of these people use to do that. You Tube has a lot of learn how to's on it Some may draw, sketch or doodle. Others may like to journal.
For those who may be in bed most of the time...open the curtains each day so they can see outside. Arrange their bed by the window if possible. Sunshine makes people feel happier. Bird watching is a fun thing to do, too. Get them a bird book for their state.
I have limited mobility myself. I try to find things I can do seated so much. I find that it can be creative coming up with new or interesting things to do. I'm not big on television watching. But Audio books are helpful.
Responding to blogs in comments are also a way to feel useful and helpful to others. It's the next best thing to visiting someone when you are limited in going anywhere.
Susan 31st May 2021 Activity Director
Hi Donna
Thank you for all your helpful suggestions
Susan 4th Aug 2020 Activity Director
Hi Mary
I am also very sorry for your condition
Just out of curiosity are there any exercises you can do even if they are simple
I assume you have seen a therapist that has reevaluated your situation
Perhaps you can ask someone who cares for you about simple exercises
Also besides what Solange has suggested have you tried meditation
You probably will have to modify this activity to suit your needs but you get the jist of it
Are you able to talk on the phone even if you have to use the speaker feature??
I am sure you can get a conversation going with some friends and family
Are you able to use a smart phone because there are many games that are mind stimulating you can play that will help you pass the time
I hope this helps and I hope you keep a positive attitude because that is so important
Mary Lister 3rd Aug 2020
I am bed bound and can only lay on my right side 22 hrs. a day. Can not sit up at all due to double sciaticas. What can I do for stimilation in this confined pisition? Thank you!
Solange 3rd Aug 2020 Diversional Therapist
Hi Mary, I am very sorry for your troubles. I hope you get better soon. Meanwhile, a media device propped up near your bed could stave off boredom. Also, you could 'travel' with Golden Carers in the "Armchair Travel' activity on a large TV. You could also have a positive and enthusiastic person to talk to, read you the news (good news!), or if you are an animal lover you could have a kitten to cuddle or a dog visiting you. I hope you find strength with each day; and that each day brings you closer to a full recovery. Sending love your way.
Ellen Palumbo 14th Jun 2020
I bought a go fish game from Hobby Lobby. It has 2 fishing poles and fish with magnets. It helps with her coordination.
Susan 15th Jun 2020 Activity Director
What a good idea Ellen thanks for sharing
Yanina 29th Jun 2019 PSICOLOGA
me encanto, muchas gracias
Susan 30th Jun 2019 Activity Director
Podríamos ser de ayuda
Elaura 3rd Dec 2018
So glad I found this! It's getting rough. She's bored and agitated. She always wants something, but can't ever tell me what when I ask. 83, multiple strokes, but she can still manage to get herself out of her diaper and out of bed with the rails up. Then she hollers because she's cold and can't go anywhere.
Trying the music, coloring books, and stuffed animal today.
Talita 8th Dec 2018
Thanks so much for your feedback Elaura!
pam 27th Mar 2018
You could try activities that stimulate the senses like tray clothes that have different materials with various texture sewn on to them or materials that rustle. Use things like rain tubes. use cuddly toys or dolls [ cuddling a doll can bring out feelings of nurturing and purpose]. It is a bonafide therapy for people with dementia.
Misbunny 21st Mar 2018
I thought yeah when I found this list for my Mom bed ridden at 76 from MS in a nursing home. Well dang it I've all ready done it all and more but she still refuses to participate in life unless she can do it like she did "For 40 years" which is no longer physically possible. Yikes I could just give up....
sarah fisher 15th Jan 2018
These are gr8 ideas but what about the bedbounds who can't talk? Apart from nailcare and massages is there anything else?
Solange 15th Jan 2018 Diversional Therapist
Hi Sarah,

There are a few good activities one on one; if you don’t have the time maybe a volunteer could help you. Here are a few suggestions that do not rely on speech:
- Read aloud for client (topics that interest him/her)
- Listen to Talking Books or music together
- Do a large print CROSSWORD together; answer the questions yourself but ask client if he agrees with you.
- Grooming hair and makeup
- Simple crafts: 'Hand of God' or unravel old wool sweaters
- Paint or colour a picture
- Plant seedlings together
- Make a poster together: client can point out where pictures go, choose and cut pictures
- Place client on a wheelchair and take them lunch/Church, Coffee drinking.
Susan 31st Dec 2016 Freelance Activity Co-ordinator
I go to a nursing home and all residents are in bed. It is very difficult to think of things to do with them, so thankyou for this x
leanne 4th May 2016 Carer
At our facility we have started taking coloring books and template's to our residents that do not attend activity sessions and like to spend time a lone. They enjoy showing the staff and other residents the progress of their work. Our care staff have also shown interest in what the residents are doing and some wonderful conversations have started.
Shelley 2nd May 2016 Music therapist
I like the idea of the mobiles, I purchase the picture mobiles that can hold 10 photos so the person in bed can see them hanging, as they can not see them on a bulletin board in the room. thank you for the ideas
Faith 5th May 2015 Diversional Therapist / Lifestyle Assistant
Is there any suggestions for people confined to Princess chairs majority don't speak or don't interact but this can change from moment to moment I find manicures work well but I can't do this all the time and music is a obvious one.
Sue 23rd Sep 2014 Lifestyle Officer
Thankyou these ideas are great, I love "The golden Carers"
Lesley 27th Jan 2014 Diversional Therapist
Lesley 27 Jan 2014
Thank you ! so much for the wonderful ideas and examples. I am so glad that I found this site.. It makes me feel as if I'm not the only person who has an uphill battle sometimes with various comments on how or what should be done for the residents. It is hard to do planning which I mostly do at home anyway and also the activitiy program, evaluations and reviews etc. in the time allocated. Congratulations to all the Lifestyle people out there we must feel proud of what we do as we are bringing some pleasure and laughter to our wonderful residents.!!!
Juliette 8th Jan 2014 study recreation therapist
I love this!!
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