Keeping activities fresh and interesting can be a difficult task for aged care staff, but not impossible. In the world we all live in today, external entertainment can quickly have access blocked, so staff should have activities available that are independent from the outside world, in case of a lockdown.
At ConnectAbility, we understand the needs of our elderly clients the same way you do and physical activity is a part of that. There are many cheap options that can help engage residents and break up monotonous routines. Here are some suggestions for activities for aged care residents.
Gardening for Aged Care Residents
Forming a residents’ gardening club is a great way to encourage aged care residents to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Research shows that gardening is a healthy activity that can improve endurance, strength, mobility. Gardening can provide a sense of achievement in enjoying flowers that have been planted and cultivated, and residents can socialise with each other whilst being physically active by weeding, planting, and digging. Gardening may even provide a sense of independence, if the resident used to tend to a well-maintained garden at home.
Try involving the resident’s families during regular visits to encourage enjoyment of group projects. You don’t need an enormous space at your aged care centre to grow an edible garden of herbs and vegetables, they can be planted in a very small area, in containers or pots.
Use the fruits of labour from the edible garden in the resident’s meals for an added sense of accomplishment, just make sure the plants are non-toxic varieties, are edible and don’t use chemical sprays or fertilisers in your edible garden.
Puzzles and Games
Puzzles and games are great mood setters – everyone loves game board night, and aged care residents are no different. There are many group games that can be enjoyed independent from the outside world, including:
- Bingo – a stereotype for a reason, bingo can be held for a large group of residents at one time, which encourages social interaction and challenges the mind.
- Jigsaws – ideal small group activity, jigsaws are a versatile activity and come in a wide variety of difficulties from small jigsaws with few pieces for advanced residents, to 3D more challenging puzzles.
- Tactile games – games like Jenga promote finger dexterity as well provide as a mental challenge to work out and can be done in small to medium groups.
- Board games – depending on the level of care required for individual residents, certain board games like Scrabble, Connect-4, and Dominoes are fun group activities that can bring residents together for socialisation over friendly competition.
- Card games – perfect for lower care residents, games like snap, go fish or even bridge are well known favourites for aged care residents.
- Outdoors – garden patios and grassed areas can be utilised by more mobile residents, and a game of skittles, boules or ring toss can brighten residents’ moods enjoying time outside on a sunny afternoon.
Music brings smiles to aged care residents. Debasish Mridha, author of Verses of Happiness, says “Music can heal the wounds which medicine cannot touch.” Especially true for aged care residents with dementia, music has successfully been used in aged care homes for years.
Some choir groups are available to attend the residency and present a show for free. Other centres like to bring in trained music therapists to entertain and provide tailored cognitive stimulation. You may like to organise a ‘sing-along’ with the aged care residents, with music from their younger days, to encourage positive memories.
Painting day is always welcome for aged care residents. Involving residents in arts and craft is not only a good way to get people socialising with like-minded individuals, it is also valuable as a tool to stimulate cognition and practice dexterity.
Painting is a popular activity, but why not try mixing that up a little, and organise a finger-painting session? Finger painting also provides the possibility for multi-sensory stimulation as it involves visual, tactile and physical interaction experiences, which gives aged care residents the opportunity to become cognitively and physically engaged.
As an added bonus, they get to experience the child-like enjoyment of the squishy feeling of paint between the fingers that we all secretly love. It is a creative way for residents to express their feelings, providing a medium of communication, just be prepared for things to get a little messy!
Have a Craft-a-thon
At Connectability, we recognise that there are many hidden talents in our elderly clients, and we are sure that the situation is the same with the residents of your aged care home. Try to bring them out by providing craft supplies and having a necklace or bracelet making session. This will help improve fine motor skills and is an outlet for creativity.
You may even like to attempt to sell some of the beautiful items they create, to fund future activities. Messy crafts like modelling clay and the ever-popular slime making are also great movements to practice for those with dexterity issues but can also be very therapeutic.
Exercise is a great activity for aged care and is a well-known mood booster that can improve strength and stability, which lessens the risk of a fall in aged care residents.
If you’d like to mix it up a little and have a change from the normal walking routine, try something like seated yoga. Regular yoga is a wonderful way to relax the mind and improve strength and stability, but did you know there are specialised seated yoga classes that can be run by trained fitness instructors who can tailor programs for participants who are less mobile? Yoga poses can be adapted to suit a seated position, to suit less mobile and less physically stable participants.
Dancing can also be a fabulous resource for exercise. It doesn’t require anything other than a safe space to move, and something to play music on. Dancing can stimulate reminiscence and can improve balance and cognition. Even those not inclined to hit the dance floor can enjoy this activity from the side and socialise with others.
Connect Through ConnectAbility Australia
As an NDIS registered organisation delivering Person-centred care, we are passionate about all people in all situations from all walks of life. To find out how we operate and how we can help you with Aged Care Support, email us at [email protected] or call us on (02) 4962 1000 (Warrabrook) or (02) 4349 3700 (Central Coast), or make a referral online b clicking here and we will be in touch as soon as possible.