Negative Health Impacts of Boredom for Seniors

Boredom is a feeling that we all experience at one time or another, but feeling bored and under-stimulated too often can be harmful to health and wellbeing long-term. Being bored sometimes is a natural part of life for the average individual. The very nature of life requires a high level of steady maintenance for continued health and success. Daily routines are often necessary, but can become extremely tedious without variety and excitement.

We all have moments in our day or times during the week where we have nothing interesting to do, or just can’t seem to find anything that grabs our attention enough to keep us stimulated and engaged. Occasional boredom is alright, but some seniors find themselves feeling increasingly bored as time goes on. Older adults may find themselves beginning to worry that boredom will become a staple in their everyday lives, which can be a serious cause for concern. There are many ways for seniors to banish boredom and keep themselves interested and happy in the goings-on of their everyday lives. Sometimes, it just takes a little exploration and ingenuity to find the right pursuits and activities.

Detrimental Effects of Boredom

Studies indicate that individuals who experience excess boredom in their lives are at an increased risk for heart attacks, stroke, and earlier death than those who are stimulated and content on a regular basis. Boredom itself can be an uncomfortable state to be in for extended periods of time and seniors who are perpetually bored may become at a greater risk of experiencing the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Substance Abuse
  • Anger and Mood Problems
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Lower Cognitive Function

Seniors and Boredom

The later stages of life can introduce an assortment factors which can put seniors at a higher risk of experiencing more frequent boredom. Shifting family roles, retirement, and general life changes can often result in seniors no longer being involved in many of the things that once kept them busy, occupied, and stimulated. Older age is a whole new kettle of fish, and seniors who have let social relationships and regular activities fall by the wayside can find themselves with little to do.

Neglected activities, events, hobbies, and plans with friends and family can lead to social isolation and severe boredom. Seclusion and loneliness are commonly experienced by seniors and the loss of routine held prior to retirement can be challenging to deal with.

Keeping Busy

Boredom can present significant emotional and cognitive challenges, but there are many ways seniors can reduce the amount of time they spend feeling bored so they can continue to enjoy a high quality of daily living.

  • Pick Up a Hobby: Trying out a new hobby or going back to an old favourite can be a great way for seniors to keep themselves from being bored all the time. Whether it is something crafty, playing an instrument, creating or enjoying art, or even updating things around the house, having a hobby means that there is always something to turn to when the schedule for the day is looking a little sparse.
  • Social Events and Activities: Spending time with friends and family or attending social or community groups helps keep seniors socially connected and free of boredom. Seniors can join classes, volunteer, visit a place of worship, or just invite friends over for tea and a chat.
  • Go on Adventures: Getting outside and away from the house can help provide a new perspective and establish some distance from monotony. Whether it is just a stroll in the park or a full-on vacation to another city, getting out to see new things is stimulating and exciting.
  • Get Physical: Physical activity is great for the body and the mind. Seniors can pick up a sport, try yoga or tai chi, or engage in numerous other low-impact activities. Any form of physical exercise can be a great way to keep the mind busy and stimulated while elevating overall mood.
  • Experiment: Any new experience can be enjoyable and exciting, and may provide the means for ongoing fun and entertainment. The mental stimulation that comes with doing something you have never tried before can be invigorating and certainly keeps boredom at bay.

Incessant boredom can be a nasty thing to have to deal with, but there are so many ways to keep busy without over-exerting oneself. The key is striking the right balance between activity and down-time to prevent stewing in boredom and the negative emotions and thoughts that can so often accompany it.


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