Poetry and Other Writing Activities for Seniors to Enhance Their Minds

12Oaks-An elderly man taking notes in his planner-pxls-Poetry and Other Writing Activities for Seniors to Enhance Their Minds-Feature

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Believe it or not, writing is much more versatile than we thought. It is not exclusive to students or professional writers, but many age groups can join and start crafting their full stories or retelling unforgettable events in their lives. Many research studies find that reading and writing can help seniors stave off memory issues, preserve brain structure, and maintain their mental sharpness in older age. Read on to learn about the benefits of writing and introduce some poetry for senior citizens and writing activities to keep them mentally agile.


Fun & Simple Writing Activities for Seniors to Keep Their Minds Sharp

Poetry for Seniors: Writing Activities to Keep Seniors’ Brain Active

Express Emotions Through a Hand-Written Letter

12Oaks-Elderly woman on the bed writing letter-pxls-1 Express Emotions Through a Hand-Written Letter

Hand-written letters are not dead! Before the evolution of electronic messages and communication applications like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, writing letters was an important method of keeping in touch with others and is still an experience worth exploring.  After all, who doesn’t love to receive a handwritten letter?

Ask your parents to pick a friend or family member to write to. While they can write anything that comes into their minds, encourage them to write about what has recently happened in their lives. Such writing activity can help seniors exercise their brains, improve their agility, and boost their cognitive functions.


Embrace the Beauty of Poems

12Oaks-Elderly woman writing on paper-pxls-2 Embrace the Beauty of Poems

Many describe poems as songs without music. It is not easy to master poetry, but its popularity has boomed before and during the pandemic and continues to make an impact on everyone’s life. One of the best things about poetry is that while you can have structure to your poetry, like rhyming the stanzas or writing a Haiku, you can also write naturally from the heart and not follow any particular structural rules.

Begin the endeavor with a Haiku, a form of poetry with only three lines and 5-7-3 syllables per line. The four-line poem is another simple way for your parents to experience the fun of conveying their vivid emotions in just 4 lines.


Tell Me About Your Days with Journals

12Oaks-Senior man holding a pen and eyeglasses-pxls-3 Tell Me About Your Days with Journals

Journaling is an inspiring way to help seniors express their emotions, record how they spend a day, and share cherished memories. Sometimes, they can use it to log their random thoughts. That’s why journaling topics are relatively extensive, and there is always something interesting to write about for every senior. It can be as simple as daily routines or as complicated as wisdom and inspirational life events. This simple act of writing helps seniors exercise their brains by encouraging them to recall their collective memories and illustrate these thoughts in words.


Explore Freewriting

12Oaks-Senior man making notes-pxls-4 Explore Freewriting

While other forms of writing activities may unintentionally urge seniors to put their perspectives in a more structured place, freewriting is an excellent technique for non-experienced writers to follow the pursuit of writing without any worry about meeting the traditional writing standards. When writing non-stop, seniors are given absolute freedom to jot down whatever fleeting thoughts come into their minds, allowing them to explore new ideas and construct new logical thinking while polishing their writing skills over time.


Generate a Story From a Photo

12Oaks-Elderly parents showing photo album to their adult son-pxls-5 Generate a Story From a Photo

Did you know that writers are sometimes inspired by specific periods, places, and people to produce some world-renowned novels and timeless short stories? Many studies show that visual cues help people ignite ideas and draw out their narratives. For this writing activity, provide your parents with a bunch of random photos, ask them to select one, and then depict a short story based on what they can see or feel from the image.


Recall the Past with a Memoir

12Oaks-Grandmother and granddaugher having an interesting conversation-pxls-6 Recall the Past with a Memoir

Writing about life experiences and events, known as a memoir or autobiography, is a beautiful way for seniors to pass their experience and perspective on to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In a way, it helps seniors’ memories live on among family and friends. A memoir can create a family heirloom and help preserve the history of a family for future generations, while also giving the writer an opportunity to reflect on their own life and gain insight through the writing process on their life experience.


Get the Creativity Flowing with Fictional Stories

12Oaks-Senior woman writing a book-cnv-7 Get the Creativity Flowing with Fictional Stories

In a world of mundane tasks and the same old daily routines, drafting a story from start to finish with make-up characters might pave the way for a more exciting life for your parents. Writing fiction can be as interesting as solving crosswords or puzzles, as indulging in a storyline encourages writers to develop plot twists for every new chapter.


Examples of Senior Writing Prompts

Don’t know how to get your parents started with writing? Here are some examples of writing prompts for seniors to work through.

Daily Routine: 

  • What’s on your mind?
  • What are your favorite activities throughout the day?
  • What is your daily routine?
  • What is your morning/afternoon/evening routine?
  • How have you spent your day?


Family and Friends:

  • Who are your closest friends?
  • Who are your closest family members?
  • What do you love most about your specific friends/family members?
  • What are your strengths and shortcomings in relationships?
  • What do you value most in a relationship?



  • Describe impactful life lessons you have learned
  • Describe your first love/best friend
  • Describe your then-self using an old photograph
  • What are the proudest moments in your life?
  • What nightmares did you experience?



  • Which emotions are the hardest to experience, and how did you overcome them?
  • What are 3 things that make you happy or bring you down?
  • What are your fears, and how did you handle them?
  • What choices do you regret the most to this day?
  • Who do you trust to confide in your deepest feelings?


Live the Best Life: 

  • Describe your favorite things to do to overcome sadness or bad moods
  • Describe your life goals and how to achieve them
  • Describe 5 things that bring you the most joy
  • How do you practice self-care?
  • What are your favorite hobbies to pass the time? Why?
  • Write a letter to express your gratitude towards an object/a place/a person



  • What scares you the most?
  • What are your 5 pet peeves?
  • What is your favorite movie/song/novel? Why?
  • List 30 random facts about yourself
  • List as many things as possible that you love about yourself/close friends/family members
  • Describe your favorite time of the year. Why?


Why Should Seniors Consider Writing?

Writing, as a form of creative expression, has no boundaries. While few people associate writing with seniors, there’s much more for seniors to gain from writing than to lose when taking up such a hobby in their later years. In addition to many health advantages, writing can teach priceless life lessons and provide valuable life experiences as it helps seniors tap into their personal growth and reflection while penning. Here are some reasons why writing may be worth the effort:

  • Less Stress: Writing is one of several stress-coping techniques. Whether seniors write short stories or jot down their hidden thoughts, it is a great way to manage their stress, release unfavorable emotions, and make room for better things to come. In a way, jotting down such complex feelings helps children or caregivers better understand their seniors, resolving tensions and strengthening their bonds.
  • More Discipline: Many seniors find it challenging to establish a solid daily routine due to the abundance of free time at their disposal after retiring. Building a habit from day to day helps promote a sense of self-discipline, pushing a person to reach specific goals and aspirations. By engaging in regular penning sessions, seniors become more adaptive to other wellness maintenance they might find mundane, such as exercising or eating nutritious (but boring) diets.
  • More Self-Confidence: In addition to journaling daily experiences and venting intimate emotions, writing is an excellent platform for seniors to keep their happy memories as keepsakes. So when they look back on their records over the years, these fleeting moments can spark immense enjoyment.
  • More Self-Growth: Besides a greater sense of self-confidence, writing often gives seniors more chances for self-growth as they develop personal reflection and discover their new sides. Many studies also show that mastering writing improves comprehension and speaking skills. This is especially beneficial for seniors with problems communicating and connecting with others.
  • Improved Brain Health: Did you know that your entire brain is working during a writing session? We are under mild pressure when writing, searching for words, and constructing sentences. So, writing may equate to a form of brain exercise. It helps seniors to maintain their agility, support hand-brain coordination, and improve their cognitive functions.
  • Fewer Distractions: In the world of technology, seniors are often sucked into the loops of social media and streaming services. While these platforms may add a lot of amusement to seniors’ lives, they can distract them from fulfilling their daily tasks. Writing is an ideal alternative to entertainment for seniors, as it helps seniors become more mentally engaged and aware of their surroundings amidst the noise of TV and notifications.
  • More Fun: Spelling is fun, and so is writing! Imagine digging into the complexities of imaginative characters and polishing the storyline when writing fiction. All of these can turn a boring pastime into a fun and fulfilling experience for seniors to use their time wisely.


If you have questions about poetry for seniors, writing activities, or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more. 

At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.

For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us. 


Searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a visit.

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