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The Importance of Nursing Home Activities
Many people think of a nursing home as an unpleasant, soulless place where residents lie in bed or sit endlessly in a rocking chair, waiting for the inevitable to happen. The reality – at least in a good nursing home – is far from it. Many people enter a nursing facility with plenty of life left and look forward to years of enjoyment and companionship, with daily activities to keep their bodies and brains active.
In fact, studies have shown that regular stimulating activities help halve depression in nursing home residents, stave off dementia, and keep their minds as well as their bodies alive. Activities are essential to maintaining the mental and physical well-being of residents, and even staff and visiting family and friends can participate – voluntarily – in the activities offered by a good nursing home.
If you’re looking to find a retirement home for a loved one who’s still able to enjoy life, it’s important that you find out what types of activities are on offer – and how often they are available. In fact, nursing homes that accept Medicare or Medicaid patients must have a designated operations director to secure the appropriate funding. But how well they do their jobs is something you’ll have to assess yourself…
“I think the residents I talk to who tell me they have nothing to do but sleep, eat and read the paper are looking to get up every morning,” Vicki30CNA writes on the allnurses site. com. “They don’t look forward to the next day because they all run together. And our residents who aren’t as capable get little to no stimulation besides toileting and showering. A few bibs folded up every morning and consider it a their ‘work,’ but that work takes them half an hour. And then, they tell me. I hate to see their last months of the year so empty and aimless.”
If you want to prevent this from happening to someone you love, read on. A wide variety of activities should be offered in every nursing home, so make sure this is the case when considering a nursing home. Some residents may enjoy going out for lunch several times a week, shopping, or visiting the local art gallery or movie theater. Others will prefer on-site activities that engage their hearts and minds.
It might be a good idea to have a chat with the nursing home operations manager to see what is available. Here are just a handful of activities that a good nursing home should gladly offer…
Ideal because they require little preparation and can be planned by the residents themselves. They understand:
Gardening. Depending on the extent of residents’ mobility and interests, gardening can be as rigorous or as gentle as they wish. If there is a real garden that is fantastic, otherwise hanging baskets, small pots of herbs and collections of indoor cacti or orchids can always maintain interest.
Craftsmanship. Even older residents enjoy doing something, especially when they feel it’s for a good cause. Knitting blankets, making baby clothes, or participating in art or photography contests can keep people busy and help them contribute to society at the same time.
Games. You might think bingo is the most popular retirement home game – and you’re right. But competitive games are not limited to bingo. How about bridge, mahjong, canasta or chess – the sky’s the limit. Individual games are great for encouraging closer relationships among residents, and group games are also good for fostering a sense of community.
Music based activities. Don’t limit the fun to songs – you may even have professional musicians among the residents, or you may discover hidden talents.
Nail care, Bible study, a day at the hair salon – all you need is a skilled volunteer – and the time to make a difference in someone’s life.
School groups. It may sound cliché, but the young have a lot to learn from the old. This can take the form of Grandma teaching little Albertine to knit, or visiting a school once a week and reading to the little ones. Many schools, in fact, encourage outsiders – assuming they’ve been checked by the police – to help children who need a bit more with reading or math exercises in mind- headed.
Local community groups. People with a special talent often like to visit nursing homes regularly and share their skills. This may include giving residents massages or reflexology sessions, teaching them a particular aspect of gardening, or giving a lecture on growing orchids.
Scout groups. Often, scout troops visit retirement homes – getting together to do something fun like baking chocolate cookies or building a birdhouse. Both groups can learn from each other and leverage each other’s skills and talents.
Local charities. People from charities often donate their time to seniors, whether it’s planning outings or arranging a day of pet therapy when the local vet or animal shelter workers bring in visiting animals. .
Nursing Home Led Activities
Themed events, such as birthdays or religious holidays. Some creative residents get together with staff to plan events such as Hawaiian nights, Chinese New Year celebrations, or Halloween or Thanksgiving festivities. Friends and family can be invited to participate – perhaps even residents of nearby nursing homes.
Outdoor activities like barbecues, picnics or a walk in a park or garden centre. In some cases, volunteers may be called upon to assist residents with mobility issues.
A little culture. Going to the theatre, opera, museum or cinema may take a bit of planning, but it’s worth it. Again, volunteer helpers and drivers may be needed.
Alternative therapies. Everyone can benefit from them – as long as they are not too invasive. Massage, yoga or tai chi can help residents have fun, get in shape and relax.
To keep people as happy and healthy as possible for as long as possible. both physically and mentally, should be the goal of every nursing home. Activities should be varied and interesting, tailored to the different abilities, needs and interests of residents. They should be not only fun but useful, allowing residents to form new relationships, develop new skills and maintain their level of fitness.
“We have a ‘prom’ in May, where local single Marines escort our residents (wheelchairs and all) to dance and eat,” CoachCathy writes on the allnurses.com site. “We have dresses and suits donated by local thrift stores. Local hair salons come to do hair and nails. Everyone is having a blast.
“And we had a Winter Wonderland theme last December – we made snowmen out of diaper boxes painted white – and had a snowman decorating contest. Residents had a snowball fight. snow inside (with cotton balls). It was so much fun!”
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