The assisted living community has seen an increase in residency in the 21st century. With an increase in the global age steadily rising, more seniors are expected to enter assisted living communities in the near future. Assisted living facilities can accommodate new and current residents with an atmosphere that promotes quality of life and overall well-being for those who call the facility home. Here are some activities that researchers from all over the world have found to be meaningful to seniors and beneficial in assisted living communities. Some are on the leading edge of technology.
Keeping Life Interesting
Seniors can have too much time on their hands. With no job, few visits from family members, and in many cases, no transportation, time can become somewhat of a burden as seniors begin to feel isolated from the rest of the world. To keep life interesting and purposeful, assisted living facilities have a wonderful opportunity to spice things up by holding regular activities. These activities can liven up daily life and give seniors something to look forward to, something every age needs to have. But what activities are best suited to assisted living facilities with residents of all backgrounds and abilities?
Incorporate the Community
A global study conducted by Malaysian researchers and published by the Institute of Physics sought the most acclaimed senior centers internationally They wanted to know which assisted living facilities were the best and what made them so. They looked at architecture, community involvement, sustainable landscaping, and activities that enhanced cognitive performance. They found the centers that offered regular activities that incorporated the community they lived in had the best reputations. Seniors' engagement and liveliness were enhanced by such activities. Field trips were one of such activities, and they were part of one center's lifelong learning program.
Many assisted living facilities already have a room or two they use to hold activities. Reputable centers chose to use rooms to offer classes in new hobbies, new languages or about different religions. Activities that promote learning later in life promote a sense of usefulness and purpose to seniors. Other beneficial activities include gardening, coloring, and introducing new technical skills such as how to use a computer.
The Role of Technology in Assisted Living Activities
Belgian researchers De Shutter and Vandenabeele have found a rightful place for technology in the lives of senior citizens. Many seniors living in assisted living communities today are not familiar with computers, let alone today's tech trends, because they just didn't grow up in that type of society. Researchers wanted to look at projects that would help close the "digital divide" for elderly people so they could foster connectedness, cultivate themselves, and even contribute to society. These activities can play an important role in assisted living communities looking for new ways to improve quality of life and provide more opportunities for cognitive stimulation.
Technology classes can help bridge the gap in establishing a renewed sense of usefulness in society as well. Seniors' voices shouldn't be forgotten.
Seniors living in an assisted living facility can feel isolated from the rest of the world. Technology can help bridge that divide by allowing more frequent communication with family members. Seniors can chat with them and see pictures shared over social media outlets. Technology classes can help bridge the gap in establishing a renewed sense of usefulness in society as well. Seniors' voices shouldn't be forgotten. Today, emails are common ways to contact local government representatives. An assisted living facility that helps seniors to contact their local officials will be helping them feel more connected to the world.
Technology also plays a very critical role in entertainment. The Belgian researchers looked into the ways game developers could design a player-centered contextual game seniors could learn to play. They wanted to focus the development on aspects of a senior's life they were passionate about.
At the end of the study, they found that a majority of the seniors' passions were related to other people and accomplishing service-like tasks. As a result, game developers made the effort to incorporate multiplayer games. They came up with these ten gaming concepts:
It may be a while before this insightful concept of gaming grandparents catches on, but in the meantime, technology can be implemented along with other fun and challenging activities that include the surrounding community.
Researchers continue to find that the activities seniors like the best are the ones that promote connectivity with other residents and their surrounding community. Any activities that aim to help a senior feel less isolated is the best activity to have.
De Shutter, B., and Vandenabeele, V. (2008). Meaningful Play in Elderly Life. Paper presented at the 58th annual conference of the International Communication Association "Communicating for Social Impact." Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Le Centre Sheraton, May 22-26th, 2008. Available at https://lirias.kuleuven.be/bitstream/123456789/270392/1/meaningful_play_in_elderly_life.pdf. Last Visited April 1, 2016.
Wagiman, A., Mhidin, H. H. B., Ismail, A. S. (2016). Elderly Care Centre. IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 30. Institute of Physics. Available at http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/30/1/012008/pdf Last Visited April 8, 2016.