Residents spend a lot of time keeping themselves company. Across all types of care facilities, a key aspect of operations is entertaining residents with activities where they can socialise with each other. Different residents require different levels of care, so the best activities are ones where everybody can get involved. Here are some classic activities and some modern ideas which all residencies can try.
It looks goofy from the outside, but aqua aerobics is an excellent form of exercise for people of all ages and all fitness levels. The free movement and support of the water provides for a safe exercise for those with joint stiffness and a variety of injuries and ailments. Even for those who consider themselves athletes, water can provide huge resistance and offer a tough workout.
Gardening is one of the most rewarding and healthiest activities for anybody. For the elderly in particular, gardening helps stimulate senses, and working with plants allows residents to interact with nature and get a sense of pride and accomplishment when they see a plant they cared for grow. While lifting and bending can be difficult for the elderly, gardens can be modified, adding benches, creating raised beds or making vertical gardens to reduce these difficulties.
Another common and nearly universally popular choice of activity is happy hour. The New Zealand Health Survey showed 79 percent of 65 to 74-year olds and 66 percent of those aged 75 or over drink, showing that the elderly still have a taste for alcohol. There is a bounty of seniors who want to have a couple of drinks to unwind at the end of the day. The happy hour idea is self-explanatory, the only factor which requires real consideration is regulating how often to run the event. A lot of places will run a happy hour once a week at an on-site bar. It’s a social event, a chance for residents to get together and share life experience.
Pioneered by Alzheimer’s Australia WA’s Mary Chester Club, the idea of a ‘Men’s Shed’ gives residents the chance to engross themselves in woodworking. The work gives seniors an objective to work towards using either skills learned on-site, pre-existing skills, or from other residents in the workshop. It also provides a shared space where residents can interact and facilitate friendships. The work helps them maintain strength, coordination, thinking skills, and gives them some independence. The idea doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘male-only, but in the Chester Club’s example it provided men with a meditative space to hone their creative skills in a purposeful way.
The level of ‘competition’ will be down to each competitor or team, but inter-home competitions for quizzes, bowls and other challenge-based activities are not only good for getting residents up and about, but also gets them working together.
A resident at Arcare Maroochydore in Australia established a ‘Scooter Club’. The club ‘hoon’ around the streets on their scooters, trying cafes, restaurants and other places that pique their interest. The idea is adaptable in all sorts of places, and gives residents the chance to get up to high speeds, give their scooter’s a spin and feel a bit of freedom.