Importance of Activities in a Skilled Nursing Facility

Theresa Kalka
Activities Director
Southern Hills Nursing & Rehab Center

ActivitiesMost people do not realize the importance of activities in nursing homes. The purpose of the activities staff is to improve the quality of life for these residents. It helps a resident realize that they are not alone, and that there are others in the same situation.  Activities benefit the residents psychologically, socially, spiritually, and physically.

The psychological health of the residents impacts their lives in such a big way.  If they are feeling emotionally ill, then that can wear on their physical health.  Participation in activities will help improve their mental well-being and can eliminate depression.  Being with a group of people can forge friendships and support systems.  There are many residents that do not have an active family support system, which can lead to loneliness and depression.  Building friendships can give them the community support that they need to deal with their failing health and life situation, which improves their psychological and social health.  An active social life helps improve a resident’s mental health.  Activities give structure to the day for residents, which give them a sense of safety, helps with passing the time, and give a purpose to their life.  There is a certain level of safety in knowing what exactly to expect from the entirety of the day.  Residents could spend their entire day staring at a clock, but being busy with something helps make the day fly by.  Activities can utilize interests from their previous professions, which helps make the transition from home to a long term nursing facility easier.  A resident that used to be a woodworker can still be given woodworking activities or even could lead a wood working class.  It is important to remind the residents of their passions and hobbies that they enjoyed previously. This allows them to have fun and even discover new talents and hobbies.

Variety of Activities

There are a variety of activities that can improve your physical health.  It can be as easy as throwing a ball, bopping a balloon around, golfing, bowling, ring toss, corn hole, or chair yoga.  Also, in order to attend the activity, the resident can self-propel themselves to the activity room.  This helps the resident stay independent as well as getting exercise.  These activities help you work on eye and hand coordination, arm strength, upper extremity range of motion, and core strength.  Overall, it will help strengthen basic muscles needed for your activities of daily living such as eating, dressing, and bathing.  With chair yoga, the resident is not only improving their physical health, but also their mental health.  Chair yoga has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.  Chair yoga can increase body strength, improve body control, reduce strain on joints and muscles, and reduce blood pressure.  By increasing body strength, it will help strengthen muscles needed for daily life.  Improvement of body control will make it easier to prevent falls and improve body coordination. By reducing strain on muscles and joints, it will keep them strengthened, which in the long run will help with balance and keeping an independent life.  And, reducing blood pressure will lower the chances of other chronic diseases.

Spiritual Aspect

The psychological, social, and physical health of residents is important, but many forget about the spiritual aspect.  It helps residents to continue on religious traditions that have been a part of their entire life.  This gives them comfort and solace as they are nearing the end of their days.  These religious traditions can bring them memories of childhood or just give them a sense of community in worshiping and praying together.  Religion is a reminder of there being more than just the pain and suffering that they are dealing with in this life.  It gives hope in a future of happiness and peace.  These religious activities give the residents a chance to connect with each other and God.  Overall, there is a substantial amount of evidence showing the benefits of activities for the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being of the residents.  Hobbies and extracurricular activities can improve quality of life in and outside nursing home facilities!