The key to staying healthy and happy as we get older is remaining active and engaged in life. We’re encouraged to find a new passion, share precious moments with loved ones, and get out in the world. For seniors who live in a nursing home, this need to engage in life becomes a vital part of staying healthy. Sadly, it often becomes more difficult for older people to do the very things that they now have time to do because of a proliferation of physical and psychological disorders among the population.
Engaging By The Numbers
Recent studies have shown that nursing home residents spend approximately 65% of their time doing “nothing,” and among dementia patients and those with severe physical limitations, the numbers go up. Some nursing homes make a special effort to engage these seniors in daily activities, but many understaffed and overpopulated communities don’t have the ability to create meaningful activities for their residents. This needs to change. Research has shown that active seniors have a slower rate of memory decline than those who watch television or stay in the rooms all day.
What Kinds Of Activities Are Popular Among Seniors?
There was a time when bingo and shuffleboard were the two staple leisure activities for seniors who lived in nursing homes. Thankfully that has changed. Now, the most popular pastimes include reading, spiritual studies and traveling. Other prevalent activities include gardening, talking on the phone, and exercising. Watching television is still popular, but is used often as a last resort on rainy or low-energy days.
The New Trend Of Activity At Nursing Homes
Today’s seniors aren’t the docile, retirement-centered seniors of decades past. Seniors today want to stay active, they want to make a difference, some look at this period of their lives as the time to leave their mark on the world. Activities have to cater to the modern senior while considering the wide range of mental and physical limitations.
If you have glanced at the activity calendar of high-quality nursing homes, you’ve probably noticed that there is a wide mixture of activities offered, including
- Chair Yoga
- Continuing Education Courses
- Travel Club
- Word Games/Trivia
- Book Club
- Movie Night
- Ice Cream Socials
- Outside Shopping Trips
- Cooking Class
- Arts and Crafts
- Dance Class
Nontraditional Activities For Active Seniors
As nursing homes strive to claw their way out of a stereotypical image, more and more communities are offering seniors new methods of expression and a wider realm of activities to choose from. One nursing home in Massachusetts has added chickens to their property for seniors to care for; another nursing home has opened an on-site daycare for local kids where the seniors are the caretakers.
How To Advocate For Healthy Activities At Your Local Nursing Homes
The nursing home environment is slowly changing. If you have a loved one in a local nursing home that seems to be stuck in the past or is struggling to add new activities for your family member, you can advocate for him/her. Sometimes it’s a simple problem with understaffing or a lack of creativity. It could be that the home doesn’t have dependable transportation for leisure activities. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions for improvement or even volunteer to help bring more opportunities to the community. Your loved one will appreciate the improvements and may even discover a new passion.