It can sometimes be difficult for assisted living seniors to be fulfilled with their daily life because of the variety of losses they have experienced. They have raised their family, they no longer have a house to maintain, beloved family members or cherished friends may have died, or perhaps they have developed health conditions which limit their abilities. So it’s the responsibility of you and your team to increase your residents’ quality of life by engaging them in meaningful activities that improve their happiness, confidence, and self-worth.

What Are The Benefits of Creating Activities for Assisted Living Seniors?

Creating activity programs for your assisted living center is important as it fills residents’ days with activities they enjoy, while keeping them mentally, physically and socially fulfilled. When your community offers creative activities and programs for the residents to participate in, you will see a number of benefits including:

  1. Residents are happier when they have structure and their days are filled with engaging events.
  2. Activities and socialization can help to combat depression in seniors
  3. Participating in social events and meeting new friends can ease the transition period for new assisted living residents
  4. Spending time together helps to build a sense of community among residents and staff

Remember, Activities Can Be Formal and Informal

Because it’s important to create meaningful activities that meet the needs of all residents, it’s equally important to recognize this does not mean “one size fits all.” Take into consideration residents with limited mobility, those who suffer from dementia, and residents who are sight- or hearing- impaired.

While the activities calendar is filled with a formal activities program for seniors that serves the greatest number of residents, staff need to work to create informal moments with residents who cannot, or choose not to, participate in large group activities. For example, a lot of noise or too much stimulation may negatively affect residents suffering from dementia. However, quiet, one-on-one moments spent interacting with a resident (discussing a book you’ve both read, working on a puzzle, or quietly watching birds at the bird feeders) can be just as fulfilling as a large celebration or event.

Ideas to Help Create Activity Programs for Assisted Living Communities

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when creating activities for assisted living residents? Bingo! And there’s a good reason: it’s definitely a fan favorite. But many facilities struggle to expand their offerings beyond Bingo and sing-alongs.

Start crafting your activity calendar with universally appealing activities such as monthly birthday parties and weekly spiritual activities. Take advantage of holidays throughout the year to create celebratory days. But we’re not just talking Christmas, Hannukah or Thanksgiving. Fun can be had with St. Patty’s Day, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, or even National Donut Day!! Likewise, it is very reaffirming and validating to take time to recognize your residents’ personal histories on Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and other important dates in America’s history.

Remember that nothing brings people together like food, so think about incorporating festive events like a Sundae Monday, a hot chocolate bar during the first snowfall, tailgating parties for the Super Bowl, or cookouts during the summer months.

Whatever the frequency or type of social activities your team develops, what’s most important is that you create a series of activities that keep residents mentally and physically healthy and that encourage socialization to build friendships. Here are some additional ideas to fill your residents’ social calendar.

Activities to Keep A Sharp Mind

  • Book Clubs
  • Trivia Night/Game Night
  • Puzzles

Activities to Keep Bodies Strong

  • Morning Stretching, Exercising, or Walking Club
  • Gardening Club
  • Aromatherapy/Massage Sessions

Activities that Encourage Socialization

  • Classic Film Movie Nights
  • Cooking Clubs
  • Craft Club
  • Community Service

Not Just Bingo is a great resource for additional brainstorming. The website offers new activity ideas and a sample activity calendar on a monthly basis.

For more information on starting or expanding an activity program and how to encourage resident participation, utilize SLU’s In-Service newsletter, Creating Meaningful Activities or Community Life Certification program