Senior Living Management & Operations Specialists

Enriching Assisted Living and Nursing Home Activities

Wondering what fun activities you can find in nursing homes or in assisted living communities? Learn about a variety of engaging activities for seniors here.

Activities for Seniors in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living

Whether you (or your loved one) is transitioning to a nursing home or assisted living facility knowing what activities the facility offers can provide you with peace-of-mind and a better look into their daily life.

But depending on the type of facility, will the activities be the same?

Not necessarily.

Continue reading to learn the difference between assisted living and nursing home activities, examples of activities each might provide, and how our commitment to serving residents throughout our senior living communities.

Table of Contents

Why Are Activities Important in Nursing Homes?
Factors to Consider for Nursing Home Activities
4 Types of Activities for the Elderly in Nursing Homes
How Assisted Living Communities May Offer Different Activities for Seniors
4 Assisted Living Activities That You Might Not Find in a Nursing Home
Looking for Senior Living Where the Fun Activities Never Stop? Check Out Senior Services of America

Why Are Activities Important in Nursing Homes?

No matter what stage of life you’re in, enjoyable activities are vital to maintaining and improving your quality of life. This is especially true for those living in nursing homes.

When searching for a nursing home for a loved one, you may not consider asking about the nursing home activities — but it’s important you do.

Nursing home activities not only benefit residents psychologically, but they also contribute to the social, physical, and spiritual well-being of residents living in long-term care facilities.

Studies show that recreational activities in nursing homes help to …

  • Reduce depression, agitation, and anxiety
  • Foster dignity and independence
  • Combat loneliness
  • Provide structure and a sense of normalcy

… and are an integral part of more person-centered care throughout long-term care facilities like nursing homes. Nursing home activities can help remind residents of the hobbies they were once passionate about.

Factors to Consider for Nursing Home Activities

When nursing home social directors consider different activities, several factors come into play — specifically, the physical and cognitive limitations of the residents.

One of the hardest parts of choosing the right activities is matching them to each residents’ needs and abilities.

To better understand each resident’s capabilities, activity directors have to work closely with the facility’s nursing staff to get a better understanding of residents’:

  • Limitations
  • Interests
  • Capabilities
  • Demeanor
  • And more

Aside from considering the residents’ personalities, it’s also important that activity directors think about the value the activities hold — what will residents take away from the activities? Will they benefit the residents or leave them feeling uncomfortable?

4 Types of Activities for the Elderly in Nursing Homes

#1: Social Activities for Nursing Home Residents

Building relationships in nursing homes can be difficult for residents. That’s why social activities can be a great way for seniors to foster relationships and feel like a part of the community.

Aside from reducing loneliness, research has found that social activities may:

  • Improve nighttime sleep
  • Maintain physical function; and
  • Reduce cognitive decline in seniors

Some of the most common social nursing home activities include:

  • Birthday parties
  • Coffee chats
  • Ice cream socials
  • Church services
  • Reading groups
  • Holiday celebrations
  • And more

#2: Physical Activities for Nursing Home Residents

The need for physical activities doesn’t change as we age.

Physical activities for nursing home residents can provide a host of benefits, including:

  • A reduced risk of falls
  • Reducing the risk of high blood pressure and helping lower blood pressure in those who already have hypertension
  • Improved mental health
  • Improved cognitive functions
  • And more

Physical nursing home activities may involve:

  • Stretching/Excercising
  • Walking
  • Chair Yoga

#3: Creative Activities for Nursing Home Residents

Creative activities are a great way to get seniors to continue to use their fine motor skills while providing cognitive stimulation.

Some creative activities for nursing home residents may include:

  • Sewing
  • Finger painting
  • Paper crafting
  • Decorating baked goods
  • Ceramics and pottery painting
  • Etc.

Creative activities can be especially useful in helping people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s by reducing agitation, anxiety, anger, confusion, and even improving sundowning.

#4: Mental Activities for Nursing Homes Residents

Mental activities for nursing home residents may help slow down cognitive impairment and help residents feel more independent.

These activities may involve using …

  • Instruments
  • Technology
  • Photos
  • Newspapers
  • Activity books — word searches, coloring books, sudoku puzzles, etc.

… and more to get the residents involved in the different nursing home activities and help bring back memories from when they were younger. Group mental activities also help residents socialize and foster relationships among each other.

How Assisted Living Communities May Offer Different Activities for Seniors

Assisted living communities and nursing homes sometimes get lumped into the same category when families begin thinking about senior living.

But assisted living facilities and nursing homes are not the same. Some of the top differences include:

  • Residents in nursing homes require more skilled, daily care than those who live in an assisted living community
  • The staff to patient ratio is often higher in nursing homes, and
  • Nursing homes generally are more of a clinical setting, less of an apartment setting

At Senior Services of America, our assisted living communities are similar to a renter/tenant agreement, with amenities, programs, and activities included as a bonus just for living in the facility.

While many assisted living facilities offer similar activities as nursing homes, assisted living facilities typically offer more activities for several reasons:

  1. Seniors living in assisted living typically need less care from staff members.
  2. Activities aren’t as highly regulated by federal agencies — although many facilities do their best to meet these regulations.

Senior Services of America assisted living communities offer seniors activities every day of the week — from church on Sundays to concerts on Fridays. We understand the importance of continuing to do activities that nurture personalities, independence and relationships — no matter what stage of life you (or your loved ones) are in.

4 Assisted Living Activities That You Might Not Find in a Nursing Home

Assisted living facilities are ideal for seniors who want to maintain their current lifestyle, but may:

  • Need minimal help with certain activities of daily living
  • Want transportation options to continue doing the things they love
  • Not be able to maintain a home the way they used to
  • Want to be able to build relationships with other seniors
  • Wish to play an active role in their community

Which is why the unique and full activity schedules in our facilities help our seniors feel right at home.

Unlike nursing home activities, which generally happen in a clinic-like setting, limiting the range of activities available. Seniors in assisted living facilities have a calendar full of events and outings available for seniors to participate in.

Here are some of the activities you may experience in assisted living that you may not find in a nursing home

#1: Restaurant-Style Dining

Many assisted living facilities offer a full dining experience, similar to that of a restaurant with:

  • A variety of menu options
  • Daily specials
  • The option to take meals “to-go”
  • A restaurant staff; and
  • Several different times that residents can come for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

Long-term care and skilled-nursing facilities are more limited on the dining experience they can offer. While they still may have a full dining staff, they aren’t able to provide as much freedom in dining times or menu options due to the dietary needs and assistance needed during mealtimes.

Another bonus to assisted living? Theyoften provide residents with special days to go out to eat with transportation already provided.

#2: Participation in More Active Sports and Leisure Activities

Seniors living in an assisted living facility, like Senior Services of America, have the freedom to participate in a wide variety of sports and leisure activities outside of the community, like:

  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Biking
  • Exercise and dance classes
  • Dance lessons
  • And more

Leisure activities aren’t just important for keeping residents of the community active, but help residents maintain a healthy and positive mindset as they continue to age.

#3: Enjoyment with Personal Pets

Many assisted living facilities offer apartment-style living, allowing residents of the community to continue to live with their pets even after they’ve moved away from their homes.

These senior living facilities understand how beneficial it can be for seniors to have their pets join them in their new home — reducing loneliness and promoting physical activity being two of the biggest benefits.

#4: More Outings Offered

Assisted living community members get to enjoy outings with transportation provided to them, taking away the stress of being unable to drive or uncomfortable doing so.

Examples of excursions assisted living members may partake in include going to:

  • Local theaters
  • Fairs
  • Shopping centers
  • Nature walks
  • Museums
  • Scenic drives
  • Local sporting events; or
  • Holiday themed events

Looking for Senior Living Where the Fun Activities Never Stop? Check Out Senior Services of America

If you (or your loved ones) are searching for a senior living facility that encourages residents to maintain their independence while continuing to live purposefully, Senior Services of America communities enable residents to do the activities they love even as they age.

At Senior Services of America, your (or your loved one’s) well-being is our top priority. Our communities have activities and events to help fill time and keep our seniors happy and thriving.

Find a nearby community to speak to an advisor today.

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