What to Look for in Activities at Senior Living Communities
April 28, 2016
7 dimensions of wellness through recreational offerings
A version of our article originally appeared on Angie's List.
Among the many perks of living at a senior community are the abundant opportunities for recreation and leisure endeavors. While age can sometimes alter a person’s physical abilities for recreational activities, the need for leisure and socialization does not waver. In fact, some would argue that these needs become more profound in the golden years, where isolation can be detrimental to physical and mental health.
If you took a peek into a senior living community today, chances are you’d find a packed calendar of recreational offerings for residents to choose from, and a warm neighborly attitude encouraging participation. While touring a community or seeking to learn more about it, be sure to take a look at their activity calendar and ask about opportunities of particular importance to you or your loved one. To verify a well-rounded slate of events, you should see offerings that fit into each of the following dimensions of wellness:
Nearly every offering on a senior living community’s calendar could fit into this category, which is a real benefit to an older adult’s overall wellbeing. Whether purely social in nature or an added bonus, any goings-on done with a neighbor or two count as social. A themed party, ice cream social, outing to a baseball game, or team trivia all cover this element. Look for: Parties, clubs, outings, anything “group”
Anything that directly or indirectly tunes up some part of the body enhances this aspect of wellbeing. The classic chair exercise or Zumba Gold class, a knitting group, or walking club are all physical in nature. Look for: Exercise, hands-on hobbies, fine or gross motor skills
Learning is a lifelong endeavor, and senior communities should have opportunities to make it easy to learn something new or brush up on something familiar. Look for: Classes, workshops, games, speakers, trivia
We can learn, exercise, and socialize all we want, but we can’t maintain a healthy, content state of mind without avenues to enrich emotional wellness. Being emotionally well is often described as a continual journey of experiencing, adapting, and growing, which carries on into retirement years and beyond. Look for: Activities that bring you or your loved one joy, hobbies, discussion or support groups, art or music therapy
Some people at a senior community may still work full or part time, and some do not. Opportunities to volunteer or work a few hours can bolster a sense of accomplishment and allow people to feel valued by contributing time and talents to make a difference. Look for: Volunteer options, clubs, councils, committees
Activities that help heighten appreciation for one’s environment (indoors or outdoors) fall into this category. Look for: Gardening, outdoor events, art
We all need a little food for the soul, which is where spiritual wellness comes in. Whether it’s a particular religious experience that would fulfill this aspect, or exercising a broad appreciation of something larger than ourselves, identifying personally suitable opportunities in this category is imperative. Look for: Church, bible study, speakers, visiting or staff chaplains, a setting for quiet reflection or meditation
Call them activities, recreational therapy, lifestyle programs, or special events – these are often the most mentioned aspect when residents are asked what they love about living at a senior community. Sometimes a staff member is responsible for planning and publishing the schedule of activities, and sometimes it’s volunteer or resident-driven. Regardless, having a full, balanced agenda of offerings to choose from is key so that each person can find the perfect blend of what “being involved,” “staying busy,” or “making a difference,” means to them. Older adults can choose to be as busy as they would like to be, or not, and this empowerment results in a sense of fulfillment and a boost to their overall wellbeing.
Have something to add? What are some of the most valuable or unique activity offerings you've seen at a senior community? Leave us a reply below!