Recreational activities have always been part and parcel of a nursing home program. Meaningful activities tailored to the needs and abilities of nursing home residents promote their sense of purpose and improve their self-esteem.
But with many different residents of varying interests and abilities, programming can be challenging. In fact, according to a study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, fifty-percent of nursing home residents have some form of dementia The limiting nature of this degenerative illness as well as other physical disabilities severely limit the types of activities available to some residents.
However, in a person-centered environment, the staff will access the needs and abilities of individual residents. Residents will naturally connect to activities that reflect their interests and lifestyle, are enjoyable, help them to feel useful, and provide a sense of belonging. To assess individual needs, staff will ask individual residents questions like:
- What types of hobbies did you have before you moved here?
- What is your preferred time of day to participate in an organized activity?
- What limits your participation? (i.e. wheelchair, memory impairment) and how can the activity be modified for your involvement?
- What form of support do you need to participate?
- Do you prefer being a part of a big group or a small group?
- Have you tried a new activity recently and how did you like it?
The information obtained from these interviews enables staff to create a more personalized plan for residents. With a flexible activity schedule and a more personalized plan, residents can find ways to engage in the nursing home community and be more active on a daily basis.
In addition to providing structure, scheduled activities promote socialization and can improve physical health. While bingo is a nice diversion and offers a structure for casual socialization, chair yoga is a specific activity that can positively affect a resident on both the physical and mental levels. Cooking and gardening may draw upon an individual’s expertise from their younger years. A classical music concert is a passive activity that can calm down and relax a resident.
For those residents that find it difficult to join the community, quieter activities like letter writing, puzzles, and walking outside can be equally effective.
Most importantly, caregivers should encourage residents in longterm care to participate in activities that they enjoy. These meaningful activities will promote a sense of purpose and improve self-esteem among nursing home residents.