Activities for Older Family Members

Parent Q&A

  • Seeking activities for elderly parent

    (10 replies)

    My 76-year-old stepmother lives in central Berkeley near Martin Luther King Jr. Way and I'm seeking activities to which she could walk or take a short bus ride. We've explored the local senior center, but she seems disinclined to go very often. A volunteer position (that is not physically taxing) or a book club for seniors would be great. I'm looking at the adult literacy tutoring at the library and that's a possibility. I haven't found a book club for seniors that is local. She is shy and very well-educated, loves reading, gardening and music and is a retired programmer. Health issues have impeded her activities. Any suggestions for book groups, volunteering or other activities are most welcome.

    You might take a look at Ashby Village. The "Villages" are non-profits with the mission to keep seniors in their homes and engaged in their communities for as long as possible, and the Ashby Village is one of the most successful in the country. She would join as a member--most have social memberships (cheaper, with access to events) or full memberships (in which volunteers can help her with stuff around the home, give her rides, etc). It's a wonderful organization--I've worked with several of them around the Bay Area. URL is strange but below (or Google "Ashby Village," since I wouldn't click on that link from a stranger either).

    She might enjoy tutoring English with international students or visiting professors through the the YWCA on Bancroft.  I worked with a professor from Barcelona recently.  As long as she's close to the campus, they could meet in a nearby coffee shop or other location.

    Have her go to the Website MahJongg for everyone.A lovely woman teachers MahJongg in Berkeley and has monthly brunches for people who know how to play.It is fun and helps keep our minds sharp.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Father-in-law needs a social life!

Aug 2013

My MIL passed away in early July, and we are trying to help my FIL figure out what the next chapter in his life looks like. He's 76, but besides hearing (too stubborn to use a hearing aid), he's still very with it, and very capable. He's very stoic w a wry sense of humor, but not super social. Sadly most of his friends have passed away and because he's not a small talk kind of guy, he has only one close friend left. He's very aware of the fact that he needs some kind of activity, social life but is unsure what to do about it. I think his ideal thing would be some kind of activity where he does stuff with people and makes friends that way, instead of meeting via some get together. His current hobbies are shooting guns, working out at the gym, hiking, and collecting gold (I know, but hey, it keeps him happy). Anyone have advice on either senior communities or senior activities around the bay? keeping my fil busy

Where does your FIL live? Is he on his own? It might be good to investigate some of the nice senior apartment complexes like Rossmoor where there are a lot of activities and people of the same age living in proximity, so he's more likely to have socializing going on around him. If he likes hiking, he'd probably meet people at Sierra Club hikes or other places like REI that organize hikes. Volunteering is a good way to meet people too. Hope that helps. local mom

There are many hiking clubs that cater to older people. Some examples:
- Contra Costa Hills Club (in Berkeley and west of the tunnel, the name is historic)
- Sierra Club Thursday hikes
- Many East Bay Regional Parks weekday and weekend hikes; check their tabloid ''Regional In Nature'' or look online at
One of these is the ''Over the Hills Gang'' with ranger Dave Zuckermann from Tilden Nature Center. They are currently on hiatus, but a great group.

Hi. You may consider one of these options
1. OLLI - UC Berekeley's Life Long Learning Program. They offer classes, lecture series, etc. Great way to stay connected and have fun learning new things.
2. Does he live in the Berk area? Another good program is Ashby Village. It is a membership based program that encourages people to stay in their home by providing access to a network of support providers and creating a community through events, activities and programs.
3. Seniors helping seniors is a program that matches able older adults with less able people to help with social activities and companionship. It is a paid position AND you are engaged.
4. Last, consider a retirement community that has a robust enrichment (activities) program. Bayside Park in Emeryville has over 100 programs a month -- something for everyone. Sometimes having a little more structure can be a good thing. patty

City of Albany, City of El Cerrito and City of Berkeley all have very active senior centers with a wide range of activities, including hiking clubs. Bird watching, tai chi, country line dancing, cooking, billiards, organized outings and overnight trips to name a few. I don't know where you live but I'm sure there is a senior center nearby that would offer something of interest for your FIL. Also the East Bay Regional Parks has a hiking club for 55+ called the Over the Hill Gang. A fun group of active seniors who explore different regional parks together. This is a great place to be an active older adult!(although I'm not one yet) TC

Health Club Recommendation for Senior Parents

Feb 2013

Hello BPNers - my 69 and 71 year old parents moved to the Bay Area several months ago. They live in Old Oakland right near City Center, and are looking for recommendations for health clubs that would be good for seniors. They're not averse to a short drive or long walk, so the Oakland Y is certainly of interest, though the convenient location of Club One is enticing as well. I suspect they'll get the hard sell at Club One - probably a slightly softer sell at the Y - but I thought it was worth asking you all for recommendations. Where do your elderly parents work out? Or where do you work out, if you are in your 60s and 70s? We've discussed aqua aerobics, which they've never done, as well as some gentle yoga, which might be nice. Stairmasters and other machines are of interest as well. They'll likely want to do whatever they do together - my mother has mid-stage Alzheimers and isn't very comfortable without my Dad around. I'm sure they would also benefit from making some new connections. They may also just try to get into a regular ''walk around the lake and do some of the stairs at the Cleveland Cascade'' though then I think they'd miss some of the social aspects that could come from a club. Thoughts and recommendations are welcome. Thanks!

I highly recommend Club ONe for everyone. The Oakland Y is supposedly good too, but a more urban environment and perhaps less ''protected''. The Club One staff is fabulous and deals with people of all ages. Club One member

I recommend the YMCA over Club One. Better price, better sense of community -esp. for seniors. YMCA Fan

Helping my father make new connections

Oct 2007

My 67 year old father recently confided that he deeply regrets not having made more of an effort in his life to establish deep friendships. He and my mother's social life revolved around connections my mother made. But mom passed away some time ago, and dad remarried someone rather reserved and not very socialable herself, and a year ago they moved out of the Bay Area (where my father lived his entire life) to a brand new community in Folsom (it consists mostly of younger families, not retirees), and they're really starting to feel isolated.

I'd like to encourage him to make new connections, but although he's outwardly gregarious, I know deep down he feels a bit shy and awkward reaching out. Where can an agnostic, libretarian senior with no hobbies (not one for working on ''fiddly things'') or strong sports interest (not a golfer or a swimmer) go in the Sacramento area? (He is interested in politics, history and traveling). Thanks! Concerned Daughter

I suggest you get your parents into an adult day center. In the beginning, they might resist this move, but after time they may like being with other seniors. Depending on the services available, they may have nursing staff, social workers and usually an activities director. Most likely they will get fed a couple of meals, before going home. Adult day centers are wonderful places for seniors as they prevent social isolation, promotes cognitive stimulation; health and behavior is monitored and more importantly seniors continue to live independently in their own home. Good luck! Geriatric social worker

Tell your father about Elderhostel. They have trips relating to history and many other topics that may be of interest. Many of my parents friends have been on the trips and loved it. anon

Since your dad likes to travel, maybe he would enjoy Elder is hosteling for those 55+ in age. It may not connect him to those directly in his community, but just a thought. Maybe also getting involved in political groups in his part of Sacramento is another thought. These groups are often made up of folks of various ages, so are good intergenerational activities. Good Luck....Paula Paula