By Regina Dessausure
Activities Director
Southern Hills Skilled Nursing & Rehab

Activities Make a Different

activitiesEngagement in social and leisure activities is an indicator of quality of life and well-being in nursing homes.  Activities can provide a sense of purpose when residents produce something, use skills from former work, or make a contribution.Many people enter a nursing facility when they have lots of life in them yet, and look forward to years of fun and companionship, with daily activities to keep both their bodies and brains active.

In fact, studies have shown that regular stimulating activities help half a decline in depression among nursing home residents, staving off dementia and keeping their spirits as well as their bodies alive. Activities are vital to keeping up residents’ mental and physical well-being, and even staff and visiting family and friends can take part – willingly – in the activities a good nursing home provides.

If you are looking to find a nursing home for a loved one who’s still capable of loving life, it’s important that you discover what types of activities are on offer – and how often they are available. Few participants engaged in self-directed activities such as walking, visiting other residents and family members, and attending in church services.  “I think the residents I talk to who tell me there is nothing for them to do but sleep, eat and read the paper are looking for purpose to get up every morning,”

Engagement in activities beyond routine primary care is an important indicator of quality of life in nursing homes. Having “choice of activities” and “activities that amount to something” is important for improving a sense of independence and positive self-image in nursing home residents.

A wide variety of activities should be on offer at every nursing home, so make sure this is the case when considering a nursing home. Some residents may enjoy going out for lunch several times a week, shopping or visiting the local parks.

Self-Starting Activities

Gardening. Depending on residents’ scope of mobility and interest, gardening can be as rigorous or as gentle as they want it to be.

Arts and crafts. Even older residents enjoy making something – especially when they feel it’s going to a good cause.

Games. One-on-one games are great for encouraging closer relationships among residents, and group games are also good for fostering a sense of community.

sing-alongs – you may even have professional musicians among the residents, or you may discover some hidden talents. Volunteer-led Activities

Nail care, Bible study, hair salon day – all you need is a volunteer with a skill – and the time to make a difference in someone’s life.

Themed events, such as birthdays or religious celebrations. Some creative residents get together with staff to plan events such as Hawaiian nights, Chinese New Year celebrations or Halloween or Thanksgiving festivities. Friends and family can be invited to join in – perhaps even residents of neighboring nursing homes as well.

Outdoor activities such as barbecues, picnics or a stroll through a park or garden center.

Keeping people as happy and healthy as possible for as long as possible. both physically and mentally, should be the goal of every nursing home. Activities should be varied and interesting, suited to the different abilities, needs and interests of the residents. They should be not only fun but worthwhile, enabling residents to form new relationships, develop new skills, and keep up their fitness levels.