Don't forget to ask about the activities!
When looking into assisted living and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), you will undoubtedly take a critical look at the premises, the staff, the amenities, and even the food. Just don’t forget to ask about the activities because activities matter more than you might realize!
While activities might seem trivial in the grand scheme of things, they are in fact important to the health and well-being of your elderly loved one. Physical activities can help fight disease and keep blood pressure down; social activities help beat depression; and learning activities stimulate the mind and keep thinking sharp. All of those help keep seniors healthier in mind, spirit and body and help stave off disease.
That’s why at The Courville Communities, we take activities very seriously. Each of our centers is staffed with licensed and certified activities professionals. They work together with nursing, therapy and dietary staff, and the residents, to plan and prepare stimulating, fun and enjoyable things to do.While you might be envisioning Bingo, and arts and crafts, senior activities can – and should be – much more than that. At The Courville Communities we offer our residents things to do such as:
- Physical activities including bowling, yoga, tai chi and Nintendo Wii games
- Morning “coffee talk” groups that discuss current events, horoscopes, this day in history, etc.
- Pet therapy and animal visits
- Mentally stimulating games such as Rummikub, Uno, crosswords, and Sudoku puzzles.
- Entertainers, such as vocalists, children’s dance troops, pianists, etc.
- Community outings
- Holiday parties, special events, barbeques, and other fun events
- Resident Councils
- Religious services and visits
Our activities are designed to encourage socialization, keep our residents engaged in new or old hobbies, provide avenues for families to join their loved one in a favorite pastime (or a new one), and promote exercise and movement in a fun way.
Why Activities Matter
In the journal Educational Gerontology, researchers noted that when residents participate in “activities that amount to something” they have a greater sense of purpose and that “engagement in activities beyond routine primary care is an important indicator of quality of life in nursing homes.” So, when it comes to assisted living, activities matter.
Medical experts talk about six dimension of health (emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual and vocational). We can add environmental as a seventh dimension. Daily events and activities clearly help promote senior wellness across all six dimensions, and each of the six dimensions works with the others to promote holistic well-being:
Emotional: Emotional wellness contributes to an overall sense of well-being, reducing stress and helping to keep illness at bay.
Intellectual: Mind-building activities can help maintain brain function and help prevent the decline due to dementia. Games, books, crosswords – and even video games – help keep brains active and sharp.
Physical: A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “regular physical activity could represent an important and potent protective factor for cognitive decline and dementia in elderly persons.” Exercise can release endorphins, which help with natural pain relief and recovery. Physical activities can also help with balance and mobility and help lessen the risk of falls.
Social: Because seniors are at high risk of isolation, interacting with other people is extremely important. Isolation can affect mental health, manifesting itself in depression and anxiety.
Spiritual: Continuing to practice one’s spiritual beliefs helps maintain peacefulness and serenity, and gives life more meaning.
Vocational: Seniors in nursing homes don’t work, so like anyone else, they need to stay busy and active to continue to lead fulfilling lives. Activities help fill the time and keep seniors active and looking forward to each day.
Environmental: Did you know that going outside or being around plants can increase memory retention by up to 20%? And that having trees in neighborhoods have positive effects on health? Doing activities outside can play a big role in wellness.
When researching assisted living or SNF, some of things to ask about include: if residents are included in decisions about activities; whether the activity program manager is professionally trained; how the activity calendar is created; and whether residents are made aware of the activities available to them. Also, if the resident is vision or hearing impaired or has other physical challenges, are accommodations made for them?
Having a range of activities to choose from can be empowering for seniors in assisted living. Having an opportunity to try and learn new things broadens horizons and leads to better wellness outcomes. So, when researching assisted living or SNFs, make sure you don’t neglect to ask about the activities program!
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At Courville Communities, we have built our success on being the place for families to turn to when it’s time to consider alternative options for a healthier, safer, and less-isolated living arrangement. Reach out to us to get a tour of our facilities or for more information!