Senior activity attendance is a crucial metric for activity directors and senior living staff. Providing opportunities for engagement and socialization became more difficult than ever during the COVID pandemic.
Two years of viral outbreaks and quarantine periods forced many residents to stay in their rooms and only meet in small groups. Unfortunately, these COVID-era habits can be hard to break. As we climb out of the pandemic, it’s important for residents to get back to the activities and passions they love.
When senior activity attendance is low, your community’s residents are doing more than missing an opportunity to connect with their neighbors. They might be putting their own health at risk.
Activity programs aren’t just a way to pass the time. Activities like playing games, working on crafts, using a computer and socializing with other residents can reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment by up to 30% for adults 70 and over, according to Reuters. Nonetheless, an activity director’s efforts are optimized only when residents attend the events on the calendar.
Residents should always have the right to choose which events they attend. However, there’s a serious risk when residents aren’t engaging with their community. Social isolation and loneliness amongst seniors are associated with increased stress, depression and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. AARP found that social isolation causes roughly $6.7 billion in additional Medicare spending each year.
Activity attendance is crucial to your senior living community’s health. To help busy activity directors, we’ve compiled some tips to make your activity calendar more attractive for residents. We’ll also spotlight a few communities that are using purposeful technology to drive increased attendance.
Helpful habits to improve senior activity attendance
Whether your community is struggling with activity attendance – or you’re just looking to foster more engagement – these three habits will help your team:
Be consistent with scheduling
Life in many senior living communities is defined by routine. Many seniors enjoy the comfort of a consistent schedule: meals at the same times, a static bedtime and activities built into that schedule.
For example, if residents know to meet in the common area at 2 p.m. every day for an activity, they might be more likely to make activity attendance a part of their daily routine. If you’re hosting consistent “field trips” (like a trip to a farmers market), consider planning those on the first Saturday of every month to help solidify the tradition.
Collect feedback from your residents
Your residents likely bring different skills and passions to your community. Tap into your residents’ creativity and diversity by gathering their input as you plan your activity calendar. Consider tasking your community resident ambassadors with polling their neighbors and putting together a shortlist of potential new activities and adventures. When residents can directly impact activity scheduling, they’ll feel more empowered and connected.
Encourage friends and family members to join
Activity time is often a great opportunity to build camaraderie within your community. Residents will discover shared passions and work together with their neighbors.
Take socialization a step further by incorporating friends and family. Visitors often bring new and fun energy into your community, and residents might be more inclined to show up if they’ll have the chance to meet one of their neighbors’ loved ones.
Communities using technology to improve senior activity attendance
Activity directors across the country are using innovative technology solutions to complement their efforts for higher senior activity attendance. Here are four examples:
Touchtown is a system that displays community information (dining menus, activity calendars, fitness videos, etc) on devices like tablets, computers, smartphones, and Amazon Echo smart speakers.
Presbyterian SeniorCare Network, which operates the Longwood at Oakmont community near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, saw a 28% increase in participation in physical wellness activities after implementing the Touchtown system.
To help the system catch on, Longwood at Oakmont installed public kiosks with compatible devices. Resident committees offered support to help others learn.
Rendever’s VR headsets allow residents to experience virtual “worldwide” travel and live programming, which was especially engaging when the pandemic limited travel and family visits. Residents used the system to connect with each other, learn about the world and even engage in reminiscence therapy.
Monthly sessions with Rendever quadrupled in popularity from 2020 to 2021 for Ohio Living residents.
Eversound (together with Smile)
Staff at Commonwealth Senior Living wanted to get away from bingo, bibles and birthdays – and instead incorporate exciting activities like wine tours, balloon volleyball and “Dancing through the Decades.”
Leaders at 21 of Commonwealth’s Senior Living’s Virginia-based communities implemented Eversound, the easy-to-use wireless headphone system, to increase communication and assist patients experiencing hearing loss. Senior activity attendance increased by 20%, and residents were empowered to try more adventurous activities.
Commonwealth Senior Living staff were able to track resident participation through Smile, a web-based communication tool. Smile gave them the data they needed to expand their Eversound use and plan future activities.
Driving senior activity attendance with Eversound
Given the importance of senior activity attendance, activity directors need more tools at their disposal. Eversound’s wireless headphone system amplifies sound and enhances communication, helping communities mitigate the risks of untreated hearing loss, reduce the risk of falls, decrease the likelihood of dementia and increase revenue.
Eversound’s broadcast range (250 feet from the transmitter) affords residents the flexibility to listen to activities from their room, from outside, or while taking a walk around the community. Activities become more accessible, and trips to a vineyard or farmer’s market are made more enjoyable.
Eversound headphone users also gain free access to the members portal, an online database with 100s of activities so that you can fill up your activity calendar with ease.
Speaking of filling up your activity calendar, Eversound’s free Ultimate Activity Guide is available for download! The guide is an ideal part of every activity director and resident engagement experts’ toolkit. Included in the guide are:
- 100s of senior activities ideas for all year
- Hallway activity ideas, 1-on-1 activity ideas, and activity cart ideas
- Activity ideas for memory care residents
- Resources and tips from fellow activity professionals
Get your free Ultimate Activity Guide from Eversound to continue driving activity attendance for your senior living residents.