6 health benefits of recreation for seniors in a retirement community

Excerpt: Moving to and living in a retirement home offers older adults easy access to diverse recreational programs that provide powerful, wide-ranging therapeutic and health benefits. Moving to music boosts brain health and longevity, stretching programs improve balance and flexibility, and savouring positive moments builds emotional resilience. Volunteering strengthens social bonds and gives a sense of purpose, while pursuing artistic passions lifts your mood.

February is Therapeutic Recreation Awareness Month.* Moving to a retirement home offers easy access to diverse recreational programs and activities with peers that provide powerful therapeutic and health benefits for active, independent older adults and residents who need some support and care.

The therapeutic benefits of recreation have a vital role to play in helping to maintain and improve the emotional, cognitive, physical, and social well-being of older adults amid and after the challenges of a prolonged pandemic.

Here are some different ways stimulating recreational programs and activities can enhance and support the health and well-being of seniors:

  1. Moving to music boosts brain health and longevity. Combining music and movement into a fun, interactive program supports cognitive, emotional, and physical health. Music enhances learning and stimulates cognitive function by activating and strengthening multiple brain networks, including the motor system,* according to Harvard Medical School. Regular leisure-time physical movement adds years to an older adult’s lifespan,* reported a Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study. When a program combines music with an aerobic and social activity, this maximizes health benefits.*

  2. Stretch and relax for better balance and flexibility. Doing yoga or other gentle stretching exercises improves balance and flexibility, eases back pain, and enhances health-related quality of life for seniors,* according to McMaster University,

  3. Savour positive moments to build emotional resilience. Focusing daily on special positive moments helps people to build emotional resilience in the face of adversity and stress, wards off depression, and increases overall happiness,* reported a University of North Carolina study in Emotion. Recreational life enrichment programs that encourage and help residents to experience special moments, such as showcasing personal artwork at a local gallery or enjoying a romantic anniversary dinner, support residents in maintaining an optimistic outlook

  4. Play games to stay mentally sharp. Board games – physical or digital versions – are fun activities that can help older adults improve memory, mental agility, concentration, and creativity, while maintaining social contacts,* according to a McMaster University review of over 25 research studies.

  5. Give back to strengthen social bonds and find purpose. Regular volunteering strengthens bonds to others, gives a sense of purpose, and protects older adults from feelings of loneliness and hopelessness,* reported an American Journal of Preventive Medicine study. A retirement home can provide residents with opportunities to make a positive difference in their local community, such as participating in fundraising efforts or visiting a local women’s shelter or animal rescue organization.

  6. Pursue artistic passions to lifts mood and lowers anxiety. Participating in creative artistic activities such as singing, crafts, painting, drawing, dance, and creative writing eases depression in older adults* reported a Northwestern University study, and lowers anxiety, according to a Behavioral Sciences study.

At Chartwell Retirement Residences, our LiveNow life enrichment program offers wide-ranging, high-quality recreational experiences that promote physical, social, emotional, intellectual, vocational, and spiritual wellness. Participating in these signature programs empowers each resident to pursue their individual passions and embrace opportunities to connect with people who share similar interests and outlooks.