Fresh Activities for Senior Homes

Sarah Jennings has been taking care of others her whole life. In 2005, she moved her mother into her family home. She uses her personal experience to share with others about caring for the elderly.  She currently writes for Brookdale assisted living.

We all need things to do, not least of all people who have been moved to assisted living facilities for health reasons. Living around others can offer its own entertainment, but not always enough. For older people, it can be difficult to make the steps to get to know people. By coordinating desirable events, Assisted Living Staff can improve the quality of life of their patients.
Unfortunately, it seems that every nursing home in the world has the same ideas for events, and they’re not always appealing. Throwback dances can be nostalgic and a great change of pace, but they take a lot of work, cannot often be a regular event, and can really take the energy out of patients. Game nights can be a lot of fun, but are often executed with half-hearted enthusiasm. It’s nice of you to throw a few decks of cards out on some tables and provide coffee for everyone, but that’s not an event, that is coffee hour and can happen every day. In fact, it should happen every day, but don’t expect to be exalted and praised for providing the basics. Here are some activities you can plan that can add to the long-term satisfaction of your residents without breaking your budget.

Craft Circles

The goal for group activities is not only to provide things for people to do, but provide opportunities to build relationships. By initiating a craft circle, you provide a regular opportunity for people to get together, share their skills, and learn from each other. You can have a specific theme such as knitting or crocheting, or allow people to participate in whatever way they like.
Provide materials and make a goal, such as making a certain number of hats or blankets for therapy. Be sure to ask residents what talents they have that can be showcased. Maybe someone can teach an art lesson one week. The options are endless.

This is a great way for seniors to realize that they can still learn things in their old age. Creating something beautiful will give them a sense of purpose and the camaraderie of the group will positively affect everyday life.

Meal Groups

Whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a meal group can be a great way to get to know people. Set a day and a topic of conversation to get things started. Food brings people together. Talking while eating will build stronger connections than a simple conversation group.

By having regular meetings, you also instill a sense of routine, which is valuable in an assisted living setting. The group will also give residents something to look forward to.

Show and Tell

A great way to celebrate the diversity of your facility is to have individuals share stories from their lives. Set up a night where a certain number of people share something about themselves. Be sure to set a time limit so that you can get to everyone who is scheduled. Rotate through all the residents; include staff if you feel it is appropriate.

This is an opportunity to share special moments in people’s lives, stories about objects and people who are important to them, and fun travel stories. Give a few ideas to get people started and be sure to notify presenters with plenty of time to plan. Remind them the day of as well.

If a patient has trouble remembering, have them share a current story, or have them write down their presentation in advance. Staff can also help in the presentations, assisting those that fear public speaking or have trouble being heard.

Concerts and Shows

Life in a retirement home can get a bit repetitive, so it’s always good to shake things up. A lot of community groups and university choirs are more than willing to visit senior homes on weekends or during their tours. Contact local performing groups and see what arrangements can be made.

You can either bring performances to you or make a trip to see a show. Field trips to performances can be a much-needed change of pace. On the other hand, not all residents can leave the facility. It also adds an air of special-ness when a group goes out of their way to visit a certain place.

There are many events and activities that you can arrange for your assisted living residents. Many things affect satisfaction and quality of life. Among the most important is the feeling that there are people who care for you. By taking the time to ask your residents what activities they would like to see, you can improve the way you serve them.

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