Keeping seniors entertained is important for their physical, mental, and emotional health. Entertainment stimulates the brain, improving memory and focus—and relieving anxiety and depression. Yet it can be difficult to ensure that seniors keep their brains stimulated, especially as they undoubtedly have different interests, hobbies, and habits. Here are a few ideas for keeping seniors in your assisted living community active and happy.
Building Your Assisted Living Community Around Activities
Many new living communities are becoming towns in their own rights, with movie centers, libraries, and gyms. When renovating or restructuring your community, consider bringing these activities closer to home for your residents. Even the addition of a small, centrally-located cafe could be enough to keep your seniors active and social.
Book Clubs, Game Nights, and Movie Showings
Consider regular events such as book clubs, game nights, and movie showings. You can have someone run these or have residents vote on the movies, books, and games featured. Board game nights have been shown to increase mental acuity, as they are both an intellectual and social activity. Meanwhile, movie nights are a great way to get people out who otherwise might not want to chat or socialize. Provide snacks and consider hosting a discussion afterward.
Bingo has been a longstanding option for assisted living communities, as it's an exciting game that most everyone knows how to play. Consider things like in-house bingo games to bring people together and really foster a sense of being a greater community.
Create a Community Garden
Community gardens have been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Not only do they give gardeners something to do every day, but they also make them feel as though their hobby has a tangible benefit: fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruit. A community garden is somewhere that people can socialize, as well as planning out their gardens and taking care of them.
In addition to providing fresh vegetables and herbs, a community garden can also serve to beautify an assisted living community, while giving each resident an area that they can really call their own.
Arrange a Field Trip
Field trips to museums, libraries, and parks are a great way to get people out of their normal environment. Sometimes just breaking routine can improve mental health and activity. Field trips are also a way to get people walking around and staying mobile. Physical health directly leads into mental health: the more active residents are, the better their memory and focus will be.
Create a Walking Group
Walking groups can go to new locations, explore, and stay active. Whether it's just walking or speed walking, this is a way to keep people moving—and a walking group can become a "tour group" as well. Take walking groups to areas like a botanical garden, where the location is a destination in itself but also requires some walking to get around.
Host Some Classes
Art and music classes can get the creative juices going, giving residents something to look forward to and talk about. Ask residents about anything they would find interesting: they might like to paint, or they may prefer knitting. You may be able to get teachers from a local school to volunteer their time, or a particularly talented staff member.
In addition to creative classes, you can also consider exercise classes, such as cycling classes. It can be easier for anyone, not just seniors, to motivate themselves to exercise if something is scheduled.
Bring in the Pets
Pets have been shown to have a positive impact on seniors, both in terms of health and mood. Allowing seniors to have cats or dogs can truly enrich their lives, as they are now responsible for someone other than themselves. Having pets also keeps people active, as they need to both take care of the pet and play with the pet.
If it's not feasible to have people own their own pets, it's possible to visit animal shelters. Seniors can take pets out for walks or visit the "cat rooms" to play with the kittens, performing a valuable service for the animals while also enjoying the time themselves.
Consider Volunteer Work
Seniors often have trouble feeling as though they are doing something useful or meaningful. Consider creating opportunities for volunteering as a group. Seniors can help children to learn to read at the library, feed people at the soup kitchen, or volunteer with a local animal charity. You may be able to partner with a local volunteer group in order to give seniors more options.
Running an assisted living community can be a challenge. But with a little work, you can find activities that your senior residents really enjoy. Keeping your residents active will ultimately keep them healthy and happy.