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Winter activities for older people

5th February 2018

London, The Thames with View of the City and St Paul’s Cathedral’ (Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, from £7.25)

Winter can be a difficult time for so many reasons. The cold weather can put a strain on health and wellbeing, as well as presenting problems with getting from A to B, and the long, dark evenings make it all but impossible to spend much time outside after 6PM or so.

For many people, there is nothing at all wrong with being indoors and relaxing in front of a roaring fire whilst the rain or snow falls outside. For others, however – particularly those who have been used to leading very active lives – the idea of staying in for any prolonged period, especially if alone, can be quite stressful.

However, help is at hand. The following article provides a few tips on how to enjoy the long winter evenings, compiled with the assistance of a number of experts who have shared details of some great things to do when it’s cold outside. By taking advantage of the ideas listed below, anyone who is worried about how to spend the chilly nights will soon find that the hours will be flying by!



It may have been around for thousands of years, but the art of sewing has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent times – including among significant numbers of younger people. One example of the kind of group that has been cropping up all over the UK in support of this much-loved, accessible yet challenging activity is Sew Over It, a London-based provider of sewing classes, courses and all manner of sewing equipment.

Here’s what the team at Sew Over It had to say about why sewing is such a rewarding hobby to take up during the long winter months and how easy it is to learn more about this most timeless of pastimes:

“Sewing is our kind of winter sport. It's something you can do in your own home with a cup of tea and the radio on, and after a few hours you have a new cushion, wash bag or even dress! With a new generation signed up to sewing classes and designing their own wardrobes it's become trendy again, and because of the number of new independent pattern companies popping up, you can make your own clothes your own way - whether you're into keeping up with fashion or adore vintage style.

“But more than having a beautiful wardrobe or lovely new pouffe, sewing can give you an emotional boost too. Getting into a project and reaching that state of flow is proven to have positive effects on your mental health, strengthening self-esteem and building confidence in your abilities. Making something tangible is satisfying and a perfect way to flex those creative muscles - which you might not even believe you have!

“Beginners should start with simple projects such as a cushion cover, simple skirt or basic top. The online sewing community is huge and always ready to offer help to anyone stuck, so sewing blogs, Facebook groups and YouTube channels are a fantastic place to seek out inspiration as well as advice.

“Watch our sewing videos at or join our community of supportive makers in our private Facebook group at


To get in touch with the Sew Over It team or keep on top of their latest news, use any of the following details:



Telephone: 0207 326 0376






‘Wish Upon a Bookshop’ (Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, from £29.00)

Jigsaws may not have been practised for quite as long as sewing but, with wooden puzzles thought to have been invented in the 18th century, they are certainly not a modern invention either. Much like sewing, jigsaws have also made something of a popular comeback of late – to the point that they re-entered the Consumer Price Index in 2017!

Adult colouring books have become extremely popular in the last two to three years, but the features which make them attractive – their ability to encourage feelings of calmness and serenity in whoever is using them – are precisely the same reasons why jigsaws have always been loved by so many people (and, of course, are such a source of comfort in the winter months).

As well as being a huge source of information, providing quick and simple answers to questions like ‘how much do stairlifts cost?’, one of the great things about the internet is that it allows people to search for exactly the kind of product they are interested in, and to purchase high quality items which are not always readily available on the High Street. One such example is Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, who, since 1994, have been creating unique and intricate puzzles which benefit from featuring beautiful illustrations and being sold in a range of sizes, meaning they can be almost as straightforward or as challenging as desired.

Although the company’s jigsaws can be found in the gift shops of prestigious organisations like the National Trust and National Gallery, the simplest way to source them is by ordering directly through their website, which can be found here:  

‘Spring Flowers and Poole Pottery’ (Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, from £29.00)

Wentworth were able to provide some more information about what makes their puzzles – and jigsaws in general – so popular amongst people of all ages:

“Based in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, Wentworth Wooden Puzzles produce beautifully crafted wooden jigsaws that represent the very best of British craftsmanship. Each Wentworth Wooden Puzzle has specialist jigsaw cut designs to suit their images. The puzzles always include themed, shaped puzzle pieces, known as whimsies, plus by adding straight edge pieces within the middle of a puzzle and dissected corners they challenge even the most experienced of puzzlers. Wentworth’s wooden jigsaws make perfect gifts and are a delightful distraction from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

“In a world where it's easy to get consumed by the sole pursuit of electronic gadgets, Wentworth’s unique brand of wooden jigsaws are an entertaining and rewarding alternative. No matter what your age or experience, Wentworth have a jigsaw for everyone – from 25 to 1,500-piece puzzles to suit the amateur hobbyist or the hardcore veteran.”

Appropriately enough, Wentworth Wooden Puzzles recently wrote their own blog post about why completing a jigsaw is the perfect entertainment option during winter, which can be read on their website.

Finally, here is a selection of some of Wentworth’s best sellers, which will provide a better idea of their puzzles’ designs and pricing:

Of course, an increasing number of people across the UK are living with dementia and, as such, may no longer be able to complete some of the puzzles listed above. However, there are a range of excellent products available which are specifically designed to cater for people with dementia at its various stages of progression, meaning that anyone who enjoyed completing puzzles when younger will still be able to.

Active Minds specialises in providing a variety of activities - not only puzzles but also art packs, games, sensory reminiscence activities and more – suitable for use by the approximately 800,000 people living with dementia in Britain. Here’s what Active Minds had to say about why puzzles are an excellent way for anyone, whatever their level of ability, to spend time, as well as some more information about their dementia-friendly products:

‘Sheep Dog’ (Active Minds, £11.99)

“As winter arrives, the days get colder and the nights draw in, people can begin to withdraw which can make it the most isolating time of the year. Engaging activities such as puzzles and painting can help to reconnect people with their surroundings and reduce problems such as depression and boredom. Since 2010 Active Minds have been researching and developing activities to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia, their families, friends and carers. Active Minds work with several companies and charitable organisations including the NHS, Age UK, and Bupa.

“Founder of Active Minds, Ben Atkinson-Willes, is an advocate of activity products as a treatment for people affected by dementia. Ben explains:

‘I have experienced the difficulties carers face first hand. My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and, as he became less mobile, he became a jigsaw enthusiast. As his ability to complete puzzles diminished, he turned to children’s puzzles. This situation is reflected in many care homes, with children's activities being used or carers having to devise their own. As a designer, I decided that I could use my skills alongside the experience of those in the care sector to develop age-appropriate activities.’

‘Winter Snow’ (Active Minds, £11.99)

“Active Minds Head of Design, Alice Osbourne, comments on their range of award-winning puzzles:

‘Our puzzles are designed specially to assist and encourage people to complete them themselves and are suitable for all abilities. We choose familiar and emotive images to stimulate memories and conversation such as our best-selling sheepdog and winter snow scenes. All puzzles are made from plastic to ensure that they meet infection control standards, and are durable and easy to clean. With many more products under development, we’re dedicated to continually improving the quality of life of people living with dementia with our activities.’

For more information and to view the full range of Active Minds’ dementia-friendly products, visit their website.


Another great benefit of the internet is that many activities which previously could only be enjoyed by purchasing physical products can now be replicated online – often at no cost to the user.

Several websites host a huge and regularly updated selection of virtual jigsaw puzzles which can be accessed for free at any time. Convenient, shareable on social media like Facebook, and particularly appropriate for anyone who may struggle handling and fitting together small pieces, online puzzles are certainly worth looking into for those who have not yet tried them.

One of the best of the websites providing digital puzzles is Jigsaw Explorer. The team behind this site spoke about the enduring appeal of jigsaws, how they have been adapted for the internet era, and why their site has one of the best offerings around:

“Jigsaw puzzles have been a favourite pastime for generations. Like many other games, jigsaw puzzles have evolved in the digital age and are now played online. A great example of this trend is the Jigsaw Explorer website. Jigsaw Explorer offers thousands of free, family-friendly jigsaw puzzles played right in your own web browser. The puzzles can be played on both PCs and Macs as well tablets and even smartphones.

“The website offers two new jigsaw puzzles every day on its homepage, and it provides easy access to all of its puzzles which are arranged in categories. You can even use Jigsaw Explorer's search facility to find jigsaw puzzles on any subject or destination you wish. The level of desired challenge can be easily selected by changing the number of pieces for any jigsaw puzzle from as few as six pieces to as many as one thousand pieces. Progress on the assembly of a puzzle is automatically saved so you can return to an uncompleted puzzle at a later time and continue where you left off. 


“Jigsaw puzzles are a great way to stimulate the mind and benefit brain health. For those who enjoy a special challenge, Jigsaw Explorer also offers a weekly ‘mystery puzzle’. Unlike regular jigsaw puzzles, the subject of a mystery puzzle is not fully revealed until the puzzle is completed. Jigsaw Explorer also allows you to open your own photos as jigsaw puzzles as well as create jigsaw puzzles you can share with family and friends via a web link.

“So, the next time you feel like taking a break, grab a cup of tea, settle into a comfortable chair, and relax with a stimulating jigsaw puzzle of one of the many beautiful puzzle scenes at Jigsaw Explorer.”

Image Credits: Wentworth Wooden Puzzles, Kris Atomic, Clem Onojeghuo, Jigsaw Explorer, Alex, Active Minds

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.