A few years back I worked at an assisted living home. I served as the activities director for the facility and spent the majority of my time planning meaningful things to do with the residents. We had a daily walking club and weekly bingo games, among many other activities scheduled throughout the week. During my time at the home I learned some valuable lessons about elderly care. First, even though the physical and mental health of some older people may decrease in later years, pretty much everyone needs a friend and something to do. Second, activities planned for a more senior group need to include mental stimulation and thoughtful planning.
While working with the elderly, I learned that everyone liked to feel special, even if they couldn’t remember who I was from day to day. Many of the residents’ health was failing, but regardless of physical ailments everyone loved getting a personal invitation to an activity or a happy greeting in the hall. Some of our residents couldn’t leave their rooms due to health problems and so activities had to be catered to them in a more singular setting. Whatever the health or mental state of the resident, I tried my best to make each feel special and accounted for. This meant discussing with the nurses each particular resident’s health situation and medical needs.
Along with reaching out and making each individual resident feel needed and special, I learned that I needed to plan activities that sparked conversation and were mentally stimulating. This wasn’t easy. I learned through trial and error what worked and what didn’t. Some activities that I thought were going to be lots of fun and invigorating for the residents fell flat and didn’t work so well. I used some online resources and found that the best place to go for advice on planning activities for the elderly is on medicare services websites. Not only do these websites provide constructive advice for planning activities for the elderly, some even give care workers suggestions on how to interact with patients and residents on different levels of care. For example, Medicare Advantage patients may require a different set of activities to keep their minds active than other care recipients.
In summation, planning activities for the elderly can be fun, but it also takes a bit of trial and error and thoughtful consideration. Every resident has special needs. Sometimes an activity can be just a quick visit and a chat about life experiences. Other times an elaborate party or musical program is in order to liven up spirits and get people exited. It’s important to take into account the specific mental and physical needs of each resident when planning activities. This may entail planning many different events for a wide variety of tastes and interests. If you are in charge of planning activities for a group of seniors, don’t get discouraged if not every activity is a complete success for everyone. Just plan with purpose and select activities that appeal to the specific needs of the residents.