This blog was updated on January 27, 2020.
Assisted living no longer means retiring to a rocking chair to watch TV and occasionally play bingo. Today’s seniors demand adventure, plenty of stimulation, and a chance to learn something new. Indeed, most assisted living residents find that they have many more opportunities for engagement than they ever had at home. Check out these great options, which you may find at your local senior living community.
1. Group Exercise Classes
Group exercises, like yoga, tai chi, or Feldenkrais, are fun and social ways to improve flexibility and balance, which are key to preventing falls in older adults. Some communities offer chair exercise classes, while others may offer water aerobics programs, which can appeal to seniors who are living with arthritis.
2. Wii Sports
The senior in your life may not be able to shoot baskets anymore, but Nintendo’s Wii interactive console games, in which you move your body instead of pressing buttons or using a joystick, offer a nice alternative. There are a variety of games that the sports-minded seniors can play, including bowling, tennis, and golf, as well as the aforementioned basketball.
3. Walking Clubs
Walking around the community is an easy way for a senior to keep active, and can be a good avenue to making friends. Some communities even arrange transportation so that club members can walk in a nearby park or on a walking path.
Gardening is a superb way to go outside and stay active and connected to others. Digging in the dirt and planting and weeding can help seniors relax and unwind; not only that, but they also get to reap the benefits of their labor: beautiful flowers or tasty veggies.
5. Book Clubs
If the senior in your life is an avid reader, then chances are they’d love the opportunity to share their opinion about a book with others. Not only do book clubs support seniors’ efforts to stay sharp, mentally alert and in touch with the world, but they also have a huge social element.
6. Life Story Exercises
There may be no activity for elders that’s more meaningful than capturing their own unique life story, either in written form or by gathering their photos and mementos together in a scrapbook — not only do they preserve a slice of history, but they also get the chance to reflect on their own life experiences.
7. Lectures and Continuing Ed Classes
Expanding one’s knowledge base is a surefire way to stay mentally alert and engaged. To facilitate this, some communities provide on-site lectures or continuing ed classes, while others arrange for residents to take advantage of the academic and cultural offerings of nearby colleges.
8. Art Classes
For seniors who have worked hard all their lives just to make a living, retirement can open the door to a newfound creativity. Watercolor and acrylic painting as well as drawing and sketching are all high on the list of avenues for artistic expression, and making art in a group can be an enjoyable way to engage with others.
9. Field Trips and Excursions
No one wants to spend all their time at home, even when home is a vibrant assisted living community. The best communities offer special trips and excursions to local attractions such as museums, symphonies, and nature preserves. Some even partner with community service organizations to help seniors volunteer and give back.
Making necklaces or bracelets is another fun craft that can help seniors improve fine motor skills and provide an outlet for creativity — plus, participants get the bonus of wearing, gifting, or even selling the beautiful items they create.
11. Live Music
Today’s seniors are part of a generation that revolutionized music. Many are still sound aficionados, with decidedly specific tastes. Senior living communities cater to this interest by offering live music, including concerts by local artists. In communities that are home to former musicians, you might even get to attend a concert by a resident.
Music has an undeniable healing power, especially for those who live with dementia. Some assisted living communities bring in trained music therapists to entertain and provide small-group cognitive stimulation. In some communities, seniors with a history of musicianship can even participate to provide entertainment or music therapy activities for their friends and neighbors.
13. Pet Therapy
Rubbing a dog’s belly can make many of us feel all warm and fuzzy, and it’s particularly comforting to those who gave up pets when they moved into assisted living. Pet therapy programs that bring dogs in to snuggle with seniors can fill the gap. Spending time with animals may even improve a senior’s mental and physical health.
14. Spa Days and Self-Care
Everyone knows that self-care is important. Its value doesn’t end during one’s senior years. Many senior living communities offer special spa days — including haircuts, manicures, and even skin treatments — to foster well-being.
Every senior deserves a chance to relax, learn something new, and enjoy the retirement they’ve worked so hard for. Exceptional senior living communities honor seniors for who they are while helping them work to become who they want to be. Retirement can mark the beginning of an exciting new life chapter when you choose the right home.