What can a somewhat lonely old man do to fill up his time?

Since my nan died last year, my granddad is bored and lonely being in the house on his own. He has friends and he does go down the pub of an evening, but he’s got nothing to do during the day. He spends all his time cleaning. You’ve never seen more polished brass.

I’ve suggested he take up lawn bowles or something like that, but it’s not really his style. I suggested he start reading more but somehow I think that’s unlikely. He’s got a dodgy heart so it can’t be anything too strenuous, but it’s not like he’s a frail old man. He’s 81 but he still works part-time as a chauffeur. He helps out occasionally at a homeless shelter. I guess I could encourage him to get more involved there.

I don’t like to think of him at home all day with nothing to do. Suggestions welcomed.

Here are a few ideas for you.
I know some people aren’t, but would he be interested in having a pet? A cat, dog, or bird perhaps? Of course I don’t know his living situation either, and whether he would be allowed to have one (if living in an apartment or rented home). IMHO, pets are the next best thing to people when it comes to companionship (okay, well sometimes they are the best!).
Does he enjoy playing cards? My grandma plays cards a couple times a week with groups of friends. He could check into it at a local senior center.
Some colleges have what is called “senior college” especially for senior citizens on a variety of interesting topics.
Would he be interested in volunteering? He could volunteer to read to children one morning a week. Or he could deliver meals on wheels to homebound senior citizens. Many senior centers or nursing homes provide this service.
Does he garden? Because of his heart condition, you wouldn’t want him to do too much, but perhaps he’d enjoy a little patch of ground or a window box to tend.
Don’t know if any of these will help. Good luck!

Fifteen dollars and a serviceable internet connection, and you can have him hooked on Dope like the rest of us. :wink:

val’s suggestions were very thoughtful, I’m afraid I can’t add much.


When my Grandfather died my Grandmother was very lucky to have her little terrier dog- Missy. I truly beleived that helped fill a chunk of that void. It gave her someone to take care of… Unfortunatly the dog died a few years later. Then she joined some sort of masonic club for older women and she loves it. Keeps her very busy. She seems happy and she is out and about instead of sitting at home.

Jumping on the bandwagon…have seen that pets (for some reason, especially dogs) seem to work well. Makes it important to get up at a certain time, go out for a walk, get to the store to get dog food…simple daily life experience that someone in a funk might just forget to do, or decide it is not important. But seeing the look on a dog’s face makes it ok to get off your butt and do what needs to be done.

Has worked wonders for family members in similar situations.

But the other suggestions are good too…

He could take day trips too. Some senior centers or community centers offer these kinds of things. They all load up in a bus and go to a place of interest. My MIL does this occasionally and always has a good time.

Get him a computer and a copy of Diablo II


Does he like working with his hands? Maybe some kind of woodworking or crafts project might be of interest.

What’s wrong with shiny brass? That is doing something. Maybe he could go into the business and branch out into silver. :wink:

I’m surprised he doesn’t already have the older widows after him, what with having a home and time on his hands. Not to be crude, but a lady friend to squire around might be just the ticket.

Most senior citizen centres offer all sorts of different activities. Check out his local one to see what they have on offer, I’m sure there’ll be something he can become involved in. Failing that check all the other clubs and groups in his area and put forward suggestions.

I second getting him online. My mother is in her mid-seventies and once she got a computer and got online she was amazed at how much it expanded her world.

Do you think he’d like drawing or painting? If he thinks he can’t draw but would like to be able to get him a copy of “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain” by Betty Edwards. It really is true that anyone can draw if they just know how to go about it. And painting, especially with oils or acrylics, offers endless fascinating opportunities and mental stimulation. Often it’s fun to start out trying to copy other works and then once enough experience and confidence has been gained, he could start producing works of his own. Very rewarding!

I suggest Grandad get a flock of small sheep to tend. :wink: What about whittling, or toy-making for charity, if he’s so inclined?

I understand he lives in Ireland (or is that the other grandfather?), so you can’t be there with him a lot, but you’re a good grand-daughter from the way you talk about him.

The pet idea is good. If that’s impractical, perhaps you could give him a bird feeder. They take a bit of work to maintain and can provide hours of bird-watching enjoyment. A humming bird feeder might be nice also; the feeder needs to be cleaned and changed daily to keep from poisoning the humming birds.

Whatever his interests or hobbies, getting online will open a whole new world. Before the Web, I thought I might be the only person who collects pencil sharpeners. Now I belong to an international club of collectors and can spend a lot of time checking for what’s on sale online.
If a home P.C. isn’t feasible, is there a library nearby where he could get online?

I like the pet idea- all kinds of physical and emotional benefits from having one. At the risk of being indelicate, though, it might be somewhat impractical for an 81-yr old man to have a young pet, unless there’s a family member who can take over care of the pet if it becomes necessary. However, a lot of shelters and rescue groups use “foster homes” until they can rehome an animal. There are advantages for the shelter / rescue group and the animal- the shelter gets more space and doesn’t have to expend its limited resources on the animal, and the animal gets used to being in a home and gets socialized. Maybe he could be a doggie (or kitty) foster dad! And, if he falls hopelessly in love with one, he can adopt it.

I know some old folks who are volunteer dog walkers. It’s great exercise and the unconditional love that dogs are known for will really make him feel welcomed and needed.

My Grandad died in December. To fill up her time my Grandma joined a widow group. Maybe your Grandad could do something similar.

Something which he might want to know, you can pick up RTE radio 1 on longwave 252 now, I believe.

If he’s at all handy he can volunteer to do light repair work and maintenance at some local non-profit. My grandfather was a Mr. Fix-it for the local recreation center, and my father makes props and sets for an amateur theater group.

Your grandfather’s brass polishing and cleaning skills might be needed at a local museum or church. Small museums (or libraries or churches or you name it) always need volunteers! When I was in the business, we always used seniors to do envelope stuffing, or even working with the collections or giving tours. I had a retired college dean working on a photograph collection. He really got a kick out of organizing old pictures of the town he grew up in, and he was priceless for identifying people and places.

I loved working with the seniors, they are very conscientious about their work and showing up on time, and they have great stories to tell. As a curator in a local history museum those stories were like gold to me.

Thanks for all the suggestions. He does actually have a foster cat. It hangs out with my granddad during the day and then goes home at nights. But a bird might be a very good idea. I think he’d like looking after a budgie.

Gingy - he’s Irish but he’s lived in London for the past sixty years. He was visiting Ireland when he had his recent heart scare - that’s probably what confused you. I speak to him almost every day and try to see him at least once a month. Twisty - thanks for the RTE info, I think he’d like that.

I am going to encourage him to get more involved at the homeless shelter he helps out at, and perhaps suggest some other community things he could get involved in. Thanks again.