When we think of the elderly, the first image that comes to mind for most people is a senior person sitting comfortably in their favorite spot. We may not associate leisure activities with seniors. However, these activities are crucial in improving the cognitive, emotional, and physical health of seniors.
All caregivers or loved ones should facilitate leisure activities for the elderly to participate in. Why? A lack of interaction is shown to lead to feelings of loneliness and depression due to isolation.
This article is part of my “Importance of Elders” series that features 50+ articles on keeping seniors and the elderly happy and healthy so that we can have them in our lives longer. See the entire series here.
Here are more key reasons why leisure activities are important for the elderly.
Provides Them With The Chance To Socialize With Peers
Making friends is a big part of living a fulfilling life, and this is true for elderly people too. Leisure activities such as dance classes, board games, or light exercise routines provide seniors with a chance to meet their peers. If they have people around them that understand the issues around getting older, they feel heard. Leisure activities are a good way for seniors to have people the same age with whom they can share experiences.
If you are taking care of an elderly loved one and still have to go to work, they may get lonely if they have no friends or peers to hang out with and do activities with. Involving your loved ones in activities such as routine walks with their peers or something as simple as playing cards will help improve their mood and health. It will also give you peace of mind knowing that your loved one has peers that care about them as well.
Leisure Activities Improve Various Skills
As the body ages, it may become a bit harder to perform certain tasks, especially if a person is having difficulty due to arthritis or other impairments. Participating in leisure activities is a way for seniors to improve physical skills, which in turn makes it easier to do everyday tasks such as dressing up, taking a bath, cooking a light meal, etc.
Certain leisure activities also help in muscle endurance. For instance, taking walks or dancing is a good way to keep the muscles strong. Of course, it is advisable to ensure your elderly loved one does not do too much and risks further injury or pain.
Activities such as crafts and painting are also another way to help seniors, as these improve their cognitive and emotional abilities. It is a way for them to fully express themselves. Activities like playing card games or puzzles can improve their problem-solving skills and teach organizational capabilities.
Improves Physical Health
As the body ages, it becomes prone to illnesses. It is important to provide seniors with activities that improve their physical health to reduce their risk of getting ill. Leisure activities are a good way to ensure your elderly loved one stays in good shape while also having fun. Enroll seniors in swimming exercises, stretching, and other aerobic exercises to prevent the risk of falls and improve their body strength.
Movement is a key part of ensuring the body stays in good shape. A healthy body will not be prone to advantageous diseases that attack when the body is weak. If you feel that your elderly loved one is hesitant to try physical activities, encourage them by having them participate in something easy at first. Make sure the activity suits their physical conditions and can be incorporated into their daily activities.
Include Their Social Network When Possible
It is also important that the activity includes their peers whenever possible so that they will feel comfortable. These activities are also helpful because they aid in better sleep for the elderly.
Caring for elderly family members or even neighbors is key to ensuring they remain in good physical, emotional, and mental states. It can be lonely when an elderly person starts to drift away from their peers.
Leisure activities ensure that does not happen, and that seniors have a chance to increase social connections through these activities. Ensure that your elderly loved one feels part of a community that loves and appreciates them by engaging them in leisure activities.