No matter the type or location of the elderly home, activities play a vital role in helping residents of all physical abilities live as fully as possible. Activities should be designed not only to honor residents' preferences and needs, but also to engage body, mind and spirit.
The evidence is clear that a mixture of physical activity, intellectual challenge, socialization and spirituality or quiet contemplation contribute to a fulfilled life. How is this implemented in various elderly home settings and what should you look for?
Regulations in Elderly Homes
Assisted living communities, care homes, memory care and skilled nursing facilities conduct pre-admission and/or admission assessments that include specific questions about a potential resident's preference and needs for activities. Each elderly home option is then responsible for developing a plan of care that spells out how those needs will be met.
Look for a range of activities that may be: independent and/or self-directed, group events and classes, and for those unable to participate, especially in the nursing home setting, one-to-one attention.
Typically activity areas are day rooms large enough to comfortably accommodate groups. Other spaces such as libraries, indoor common areas, designated outside gardens and patios can be used for a variety of small group or individual activities. Ask about the community's process of including residents in decisions about activities.
Important questions include:
- Is the activity program manager professionally trained?
- How is the activity calendar devised?
- Are special event flyers posted?
- Are accommodations made for residents who may have vision, hearing or other physical challenges?
While those on the outside may look at the activity calendar and think, "too much of the same thing," remember that responding to residents' preferences is the first step toward an engaging program. Be on the lookout for variety in each of the mind, body, spirit areas:
Puzzles and memory games
Exercise programs such as tai-chi or yoga
Men's breakfast groups
Uninterrupted quiet, private time