Many nursing home activities are designed to support and care for patients. While a resident’s health is of utmost importance, it is also essential to incorporate fun leisure activities into their daily schedule. According to Healthline, the benefits of recreational therapy for seniors and nursing home patients include enhanced mental health, better social connections, and improved outcomes after illness or injury. If you are a healthcare professional who is interested in ideas for recreational activities, we have plenty. Set aside the stethoscope for a moment to review these fun and exciting choices for nursing home residents. One or more of these ideas is sure to help you set your monthly activity calendar.
The idea of a “game day” is sure to get every resident excited. While there are so many games you can play indoors, there are also advantages to scheduling these types of activities. Board games like chess, Yahtzee, and Scrabble encourage residents to socialize while they also help to jog the memory and activate the mind. You may even find the benefits of video games for seniors in your facility. According to the National Institutes of Health, being exposed to a new and novel video game world can enhance cognition and improve memory.
Brain exercises like puzzles and word games may also help seniors to stay independent while boosting their mental abilities. In a recent study of more than 2,800 people over the age of 65, findings showed that several weeks of brain training games helped patients improve problem-solving skills. Some were even able to enhance their memory. Try crossword puzzles and word searches. Other ideas include sudoku or card games.
When you are done with the board games and puzzles, try a game that gets the body moving. Gather residents in the gym or activity room to bounce a beach ball or toss bean bags. Pass a football around the room like a hot potato or get excited about baseball season by taking turns holding a soft baseball and passing it to your glove. As long as the activity is safe and fun, it is sure to be a hit.
Ice Cream Social
Get residents chatting and enjoying themselves with a monthly ice cream social. Many nursing homes hold their event in the dining room after dinner, which helps give residents something to look forward to. Put it on the activity schedule with a date, time, and a proposed dessert menu. Invite patients to dress up and sit with their friends.
Check with your dietary team to see what you can whip up. Some facilities can serve freshly-churned ice cream or custard, while others will prefer lower-fat options like gelato or frozen yogurt. Decide whatever is best for your patients and then remember to give a few non-dairy choices. Let your residents know there is something for everyone, including those who are lactose-intolerant.
Provide fun toppings, like fruit pieces or tiny dark chocolate chips. Ask them what they would like and then serve it in a fancy dish. Play music from decades long ago to take residents back in time to a lively ice cream parlor. Provide plenty of napkins and wet towelettes to make clean-up quick and easy.
Holidays and seasonal parties offer plenty of opportunities for recreation in the nursing home. In spring, you can have an egg hunt or usher in warmer weather by planting a few flowers in colorful pots. Summer holidays offer the chance to hold a barbecue for the entire facility. Get patriotic by waving flags and listening to old-time music. Tell residents to wear their favorite summer outfits so they can socialize, dance, and play seasonal games. Offer healthy treats, like fresh fruit or hummus with crackers.
When the calendar turns to fall and winter, it is the perfect time to get festive. Schedule autumn craft parties and harvest dances to get patients into the seasonal spirit. Toward the end of the year, gift exchanges with fellow residents and parties with friends and family members can help to boost social and communication skills.
Give residents the chance to plan the parties with you. Some nursing homes have an event committee made up of enthusiastic patients. You can also ask for suggestions when you tell residents about an upcoming event. By holding exciting activities at celebratory times of the year, your schedule will always seem like fun.
It is easy for seniors and nursing home residents to overheat outdoors. For this reason, outdoor activities should always be limited to the cooler times of the day. It is also important to avoid spending too much time outside. Once you determine the right schedule for your patients, you can take them outdoors to get fresh air. A short walk in the courtyard offers residents plenty of oxygen, as well as vitamin D from the sunshine. Ask about what they see. Are there trees, bushes, or flowers? Are there any animals along the way?
Some facilities can get their residents involved in gardening. A community garden is an excellent chance to grow herbs and vegetables together. The crops can be used for meals at the facility. Imagine your residents’ pride when they know their plants are part of breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Other ideas include tai chi classes in the grass, bird watching, and outdoor story-time sessions. Allow patients to try different outdoor activities. Remind them to drink water and wear protective gear if they are sensitive to the sun or heat. With your guidance and care, they can enjoy some well-deserved time and space outside their rooms and common areas.
Make Recreation More Fun for Patients
As a healthcare professional at a nursing home, you have many responsibilities. Your organizational skills and commitment to your patients help to keep them strong and healthy. However, you need to care for yourself, too. Make things a little bit easier on yourself by packing your supplies the night before, shopping for work supplies like uniforms and scrub sets for women online, and planning your recreational activities.
Take a look at these activities while writing your calendars 90 days ahead. When you have your schedule planned for the future, you will find it easier to fine-tune it as it gets closer. You will also have more time to focus on what is most important: excellent patient care.