The importance of recreational activities for the elderly

creating and implementing practical activities for the aged with our aged care courses.

When you think of the elderly, your first thoughts might be of them sitting comfortably in a wheelchair or spending time in bed.

Recreational activities might be a secondary thought, but alongside visits from family and consultations with their nurses, these physical activities must be part of the elderly’s weekly schedule. 

Seniors rely on these to improve their physical, cognitive, and emotional health as well as their overall wellbeing and quality of life. 

And part of what an aged care worker does is facilitate these activities to empower the important people in their care!

Why is recreation important for seniors?

Inactivity among seniors (and people of all ages, as a matter of fact!) can lead to physical ailments and be detrimental to mental health. 

A lack of interaction with others can also cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is why aged care workers must highly prioritise leisure activities. 

Recreation then becomes a therapeutic activity that builds relationships, benefits mental health, and improves physical health, each of which is critical to the overall health and happiness of the elderly. 

Here are 3 key advantages of recreational activities for the elderly. 

1. Recreation improves emotional and cognitive wellbeing

Recreational activities play an important role in improving the cognitive and emotional wellbeing of the elderly. 

Individual and group activities improve seniors’ emotions and cognitive abilities in expressing themselves and what they feel. This can be through activities like arts and crafts or painting.

Cognitive activities such as jigsaw and word puzzles or card games strengthen organisational and problem-solving skills and improve mental alertness.

Even good old fashioned conversation can stimulate the mind!

2. Helps them lead a fulfilling social life

Seniors thrive in good company and in healthy relationships. Most of the time, the elderly rely on others to interact with.

Recreational activities planned especially for the elderly ensure they spend quality time with people similar to them, as they enjoy the gift of companionship and camaraderie.

Feelings of seclusion, anxiety, and isolation are eased, while mental and physical health is improved. 

Group activities such as bingo, chess and other board games can encourage seniors to connect with others and foster meaningful relationships.

3. Helps strengthen and improve physical health

Gentle exercises and light activities can help improve the mobility, balance, flexibility, and agility of the elderly.

Physical activity can also prevent disease and reduce the risk of falls and other injuries.

ACtivities can be as simple as daily walks or planned exercise such as swimming, stretching, or appropriate chair exercises. Other aerobic activities can also include dancing classes or even gardening!

Physical activity helps the aged gain more muscle strength and improve coordination and balance, even as they age. Light exercises and movement can also reduce muscle strain and spasms and strengthen their cardiovascular and respiratory wellbeing.

How can you encourage the elderly to participate in activities?

Motivation plays an important role in encouraging the elderly to participate in these planned recreational activities. 

At first, they may hesitate, whether from a fear of failure or a fear of injury. It’s important to remember that some of these people may have not enjoyed regular physical activity for some time, and may be scared to get started.

It’s important to start small and slowly – set realistic goals and simply be there for them when they need it most. Importantly, you should create activities that:

  1. Suit their physical conditions
  2. Can easily be incorporated into their day-to-day, and
  3. Foster relationships with fellow residents 

We break down each of these below.

Create suitable recreational activities for your participants

As you can understand, many seniors may not have exercised for quite some time, and as mentioned above, may be fearful of failure or the risk of injury.

So while it’s important to choose activities that suit their interests, it becomes critical that these activities also suit their fitness and mobily levels. 

You could even ask individuals what sorts of activities they would like to participate in, and collate a schedule using their input.

Incorporate activities into their day 

For many, routine contributes to improved sleep as well as a better sense of stability and security. 

As such, it’s important to not thwart their schedule dramatically. Instead, incorporate planned activities during their weekday routines. Again, you can start small, giving them the opportunity to get to know the program and what’s involved.

And don’t forget about ‘holistic’ exercise needs such as warming up and cooling down, and ensuring plenty of water is available.

Improve relationships and strengthen social ties

As we mentioned earlier, recreational activities such as planned exercise sessions can help to improve an individual’s social life.

Fostering these relationships not only strengthens social ties, but also helps ‘spread the word’, so to speak, getting more people involved and in turn ensuring more of your residents get the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful health and mental benefits of group exercise!

What are recreational activities for the elderly?

Encourage creativity, challenge the brain, and keep the elderly moving with these fun, interactive, and energetic activities!

Recreational activities that boost creativity and imagination

Improve concentration and hand-eye coordination with these activities that require fine motor skills.

  • Painting or drawing
  • Scrapbooking
  • Cross stitching
  • Embroidery
  • Crochet or knitting

Activities that challenge memory and the mind

From numbers to letters, words, and strategies, the elderly can make most of these mind-game activities that can challenge and strengthen their memory.

  • Chess
  • Bingo
  • Scrabble
  • Monopoly
  • Jigsaw puzzles

Recreational activities that keep them moving

Help your residents gain muscle strength, improve their posture, and keep them physically active. You can even get specialised trainers who can safely help them get up and move!

  • Dancing
  • Obstacle courses
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Tai chi

Enrol in Academia’s online aged care courses in Melbourne

Considering a career in aged care?

The industry is growing fast, and an increasing demand in aged care workers makes it an attractive career choice. Whether you’re upskilling or pursuing an aged care course online or on-site for the first time, Academia will help you jumpstart your career in aged care.

Academia provides high-quality education that equips students like you with the skills and knowledge needed for a rewarding career in aged care, including empowering the elderly through a range of interactive recreational activities.

Explore our aged care courses below.

Certificate III in Individual Support

Provide individualised support to the elderly and apply safety practices to ensure health and wellbeing.

This government subsidised online course includes a work placement of 150 hours, where you’ll enjoy hands-on learning in a real-life working environment.

Learn more about the Certificate III in Individual Support.

Certificate IV in Ageing Support

If you are striving for a leadership or managerial position, you might consider enrolling directly into the Certificate IV in Ageing Support.

This course will help you:

  • Empower people with disability or mobility issues 
  • Practise safety work practices
  • Work with diverse people
  • Provide care through a palliative approach

Learn more about the Certificate IV in Ageing Support.

Do you have questions about our online aged care courses in Academia?

We’re here to help!

Learn more about these government funded courses in Melbourne and find out if you are an eligible candidate.
If you’d like to speak to one of our friendly course advisors, please fill in this enquiry form or give our Melbourne campus a call today on (03) 9671 4755.