i agree with all the previous comments. i work at a nursing home and we do gardening, games, trivia, aerobics, puzzlemaking, crocheting, sewing, collectibles (like collecting something like stamps, cards, ect..), photo albums. There's a lot of stuff. see what your residents are into and suggest something that suites their taste.
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Perhaps growing herbs would work well. It'd allow them to be outside, or you could use container gardening. :)
They could also decorate picture frames for their rooms. You could get a variety of beads, ribbons, paints, etc. to decorate with. Picture frames are cheap, too!
Beading, knitting and crocheting are also low cost projects that can be done on a large scale. But some residents might have issue with motor control due to age or arthritis, so they might need a little help. :)
I would suggest growing tomato stalks, like in high school. it is something the residents can feel resposible for, kind of like a small child, and you could start a community garden.
Dorodango (http://www.dorodango.com/create.html) All you need is dirt and water. It lets the residents get their hands dirty as well