I once had the opportunity to work at a retirement center, and noticed that many of the activities there seemed a bit degrading. Coloring books, arts and crafts – it seemed more like a summer camp for young children than a community of elderly adults. I decided to suggest some activities for seniors that would allow them to enjoy themselves while not insulting or belittling them. It worked out pretty well.
I talked about the idea of asking them what kinds of things they enjoyed doing in their free time, and then consolidating their answers into a a few activities they would enjoy. I tried to explain that the activities for seniors could be a lot more fun and really raise morale if the seniors themselves had more say in what was going on. The director of the facility liked my idea, and we soon got to work.
One of the things that we found most of them liked was music. So of the four activities for seniors we selected, sing alongs were at the top of the list. We gathered together a group of songs that most of them knew or recognized and got one of our staff members who played the piano to play the songs, while everyone sang along. Everybody there had a great time and really got into it, and eventually, people started throwing out requests. It made me so proud to see my idea come to fruition!
The next thing that many of our residents mentioned was board games. They loved to play board games, and I was determined to include this as one of our activities for seniors by incorporating a game night, where we bought 15 to 20 board games and let everyone play while we had music going in the background and snacks for people to eat. We would mix things up by having tournaments on one particular game, with the winner receiving a prize of some kind. It was great.
Another idea that some of the seniors had was a movie night, where they would all vote on what they wanted to watch out of four or five choices, and the staff would pop some popcorn and play a movie. This was one of the activities for seniors that I especially enjoyed because it was something that we did at our own home.
The final activity was a weekly trip to the park, or a ball game, or something that did not cost a lot of money, but would allow them to get out of the center and enjoy the world. When I was talking to the director about the activities for seniors we created, I made it a point to say that the seniors were still people and deserved to be treated with dignity. He agreed and said he wished more people would take that attitude.