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Care home activities can provide a wealth of benefits for elderly residents.
The ideal activities will involve being socially and/or physically active, which can help maintain cognitive function and improve both emotional and physical health.
In fact, research has shown that older people who have more social interactions are more likely to be physically active and have better emotional wellbeing, which are both contributors to leading a longer, happier life.
Our top 8 care home activities for the elderly
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why planning meaningful activities in care homes is important.
Here are eight ideas for care home activities that will keep residents active, engaged and connected.
1. Group exercise classes
Regular exercise is great for improving mobility, strength and mood, making it one of the best care home activities.
Dance classes are a good choice, as the combination of physical activity and music can stimulate reminiscence as well as improving cognitive ability and balance.
Yoga is also brilliant for improving flexibility and strength, as well as reducing stress and anxiety. For residents who are less mobile, yoga poses can be adapted to be performed in a chair or seated position.
We recommend engaging qualified instructors, preferably with experience of working with elderly people, to lead exercise classes in your care home.
2. Gardening or pot planting
Gardening can be an incredibly enjoyable way to bring care home residents together with a shared purpose, and has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health.
It may also bring back fond memories, triggering reminiscence stories about gardens, greenhouses and allotments from the past.
For relatively mobile residents who are able to get outside, you could organise group gardening projects like growing vegetables or planting a flower bed.
For those who are less mobile, planting seeds in pots is a good alternative. Tending to the young plants and watching them grow can be immensely rewarding. Sunflowers, runner beans and cress all work well.
3. Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts are among the most popular activities in care homes, and you don’t need to be a professional artist to lead an enjoyable and valuable session.
The act of drawing, painting or making is not only therapeutic in itself, but care home residents are often surprised and delighted by what they achieve in arts and crafts sessions.
They may even tap into skills from long ago that they’d forgotten they had.
Decorating tote bags or making greetings cards or jewellery often go down well as residents are able to use what they’ve made afterwards.
4. Music and singing
Music has an incredible power to stimulate, soothe and uplift, and research suggests it can enhance cognitive function in older people.
Musical activities are particularly beneficial for elderly people as they can bring back memories and resonate with emotions, helping residents express themselves and connect with others.
A simple singalong usually goes down well, with residents singing, clapping, humming or miming along. Choose music that was popular when your residents were in their teens or twenties, or ask them which songs they can remember singing.
5. Animal therapy
Anyone who has had a pet will know the value that animals can bring. Having a pet to bond with and look after can be a wonderful source of companionship, purpose and unconditional love.
Many care homes have begun to adopt animal therapy as a way to improve residents’ wellbeing. Interacting with animals can have a calming effect and help to alleviate depression and loneliness.
Animal therapy companies can arrange animals to visit your care home (with a trained handler, of course!) and interact with your residents.
As well as classic pets like cats, dogs and rabbits, many companies offer visits from more unusual animals like donkeys, alpacas, reptiles and even birds of prey.
6. Picture prompts
Images are a great way to prompt reminiscence and conversation. Try printing out and laminating a variety of pictures onto pieces of card, and hand them out to your group.
Ask your residents what they can see in the picture, and whether it brings back any memories. Encourage any and all suggestions and see where the conversation leads - it may go in some unexpected directions!
The best pictures to use are clearly defined and easy to recognise, so that those with visual impairments can identify them.
If you choose pictures of people, close-ups of faces work best. You may want to choose pictures that relate to a theme, or that stir memories of a particular time.
7. Intergenerational activities
Intergenerational activities in care homes are gathering pace as an excellent way to promote positive social contact between young people and older people.
Intergenerational contact can be beneficial for everyone involved, leading to better attitudes towards older people, less anxiety about ageing and less stereotyping.
Try contacting local schools and nurseries to find out what opportunities for intergenerational activities might be available.
While in-person visits may not be possible at the moment, exchanging letters, sending photos and videos or speaking via phone or video call are all meaningful ways to connect.
Children are often fascinated by the past, so encourage your residents to reminisce and tell stories about times gone by.
8. Special events
We all love a good party - so why not organise one for your care home?
An event will give residents something special to look forward to, and is a lovely way to bring everyone together. Some of our favourite event ideas include:
- Karaoke night
- Masked ball
- Wine and cheese night
- Afternoon tea
- Quiz night
As well as the fun of the actual day, events provide lots of opportunities for residents to get involved in organising.
Depending on their interests, residents might like helping to decorate the care home, make invitations, prepare food and drinks or choose the music.
Care home activities for the elderly: Conclusion
We hope the above has provided plenty of inspiration for activities you can try with your elderly residents.
Whichever activity you choose, it’s bound to be a beneficial experience for your residents.
Here at uRoster, we are developing a comprehensive care management system for domiciliary care providers, launching in 2021.
Our complete solution will support providers to stay connected with their employees and clients, while easily recording and sharing compliant and accurate care records.
If you’d like to know more, get in touch with us today - we’re always keen to chat.Contact Us
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