At every senior community, activity teams develop extensive monthly activity calendars tailored to the specific needs and preferences of their residents.
To some, activity planning might sound like an easy task, but it does come with its challenges. Many factors are considered when creating a senior activity calendar, and the many unique physical, emotional, and mental needs of a center’s residents need to be met.
Below, we’ve laid out simple recommendations on how to create an engaging senior activity calendar that will leave your residents engaged, alert, and happy.
Table of Contents
- Evaluate Your Space
- Tailor To The Needs Of The Residents
- Goals To Accomplish
- Create Programs For All Facets Of Life
- Feel Activities Out
Evaluate Your Space
A lot of activity opportunities and limitations stem from the environment around you, whether it’s the climate or what your community offers.
For example, is your community located in sunny Florida where a lot of time is spent outside? Or are you in a suburb of Chicago where winters are long and snow is frequent?
If you are part of a large community, there might be multiple locations to host gatherings, screenings, and activities. But if you work in a smaller community, one activity room might present challenges in creating fresh, new experiences for the residents.
Other factors to consider:
- The amount of residents might limit intimate gatherings, but provide a chance for large interactions.
- If you’re in a small community, utilize spaces like the meal room or lobby area for new activities and a change of scenery.
- If there is a lot of outdoor space, maximize your activities outside. There is nothing healthier than time spent in the fresh air.
Tailor To The Needs Of The Residents
Some might not realize it but senior living residents participate in many more types of activities than the preconceived Bingo games. Activity directors plan a mix of events that stimulate residents on a mental, intellectual, emotional, and physical level.
So, understanding the needs of your residents is crucial. Do you have residents who need more help enhancing their mental capacity? Are some of your residents limited by physical disabilities? All of this plays into what activities you offer.
Also, it always helps to listen to the residents. Ask them how they enjoy spending their time. If some love to travel, incorporate more travel and global-inspired activities. If you’ve got history buffs and pop-culture experts at your community, play up your residents’ strengths with historical movies screenings and pop-culture trivia games. You can always learn a thing or two from your residents.
Goals To Accomplish
Once you’ve researched the type of activities your space allows and begin to understand the needs of your residents, it’s time to focus on what you want to accomplish with the activities you offer.
A month-long plan should include a good mix of activities that stimulate residents in all facets of life. We’ve listed a few goals you could work towards in creating a well-balanced activity calendar.
- Promote self awareness
- Offer a sense of empowerment
- Relieve stress, anxiety and confusion
- Improve motor and cognitive skills
- Facilitate communication
- Encourage social interaction
Create Programs For All Facets Of Life
Now for the planning! Plotting out activities for each day of the month will require a lot of effort and brainstorming. A resident’s day should be filled with multiple events, resulting in over 100 activities a month to plan.
Remember, there should be a healthy balance of engagement that stimulates each part of the brain. Exercise can invigorate residents in the morning or late afternoon. While entertainment and educational activities can stimulate conversation.
Be sure to include the right amount of repetition in your calendar. For example, you may not want to run certain activities four times a week. Residents might grow tired of it or crave diversity.
See below for a wide variety of activities that have been proven to strengthen the social, physical and mental skills of seniors.
- Floor Exercises: Try bowling or balloon volleyball.
- Tournaments: Stir up friendly competition with a week-long ring toss or bocce ball tournament.
- Special Events: Hold physical activities inspired by cultural moments like the Olympics and Super Bowl.
- Art: Creates works of art with watercolors, acrylic paints, or gel pens.
- Objects: Make something residents can keep. Knit a scarf, weave a loom, or design unique jewelry.
- Gifting: Center some of your “making” around holidays, and have the residents gift the finished products to loved ones.
- Novels: Have each resident read a passage or page.
- Movies: Stick to what the residents like here. Take a survey and allow residents to pick one of two movies.
- Special Guests: Invite local musicians, artists, or yoga teachers to run an activity.
- Sacred Hymns: Music can incite many great memories for residents who have attended mass or practiced faith in their past.
- Spiritual Podcasts: Celebrate faith right at the community without having to bring in a special guest.
- Learn Something New: Educate in a hands-on way with a themed month. Dedicate a month to learning the language, cuisine, architecture, and history of a country. Start with Spain or Italy, and then pick a new country each month.
- Do Something Different: Introduce new ways to do old things, like different ways to play poker.
- Social Media: Teach them to set up and manage their very own Facebook account. This is gaining some serious momentum with seniors today.
- Enhance Activities: Use technology to make activities more enjoyable. With the use of Eversound headphones, hearing, engagement, and participation during activities is likely to improve.
- Stay Connected: Hold Skype sessions with family members, so residents stay in touch with loves ones.
Feel Activities Out
Now that you’ve mapped out your activities, try them out. Hold a trial month with the activities you’ve chosen and observe participation and engagement. Not all activities will be perfect for each resident.
So, give them a try. See what works. And adjust your calendar based on their needs and preferences, as well as your resources.