Not to date myself, but back in 1985, my very first job was as an Activity Director for a retirement community. I couldn’t believe I was getting paid for having so much fun. Activities have a near and dear place in my heart but not just because they are fun, they are essential! The importance of activities for our clients cannot be underestimated. They are not just for entertainment or just to keep busy. They’re also essential for healthy body, mind, and spirit. The University of Manitoba posted some interesting findings related to activities and Seniors. They shared a large body of literature that shows that social participation is associated with better mental and physical health. The following provides a snapshot of some research findings:
- For every 1 point decrease on a social activity scale, there was a 33% more rapid rate of decline in motor function (e.g., grip strength, muscle strength) within an average of five years (Buchman et al., 2009)
- An intervention that combined structured social activity with light intensity exercise (e.g., card games, croquet) significantly improved older adults’ memory function and sleep (Naylor et al., 2000)
- The rate of cognitive decline was reduced by an average of 70% in older adults who were frequently socially active compared to those who were infrequently socially active over an average of 5 years. (James, Wilson, Barnes, & Bennet, 2011)
- Older adults who participated on a daily or weekly basis in social activity had a 40% reduced risk of developing dementia compared those who were not socially engaged (Wang, Karp, Winblad, & Fratiglioni, 2002)
During our caregiver orientation we spend a lot of time talking about creating activities for and with our clients. The beauty of one on one care is that every activity can be tailored for the individual client. We have a library of activity boxes at our office that caregivers can check out and use with their client and return when they have completed the activity. In each box there are activity ideas, supplies, directions and recipes needed to make the most out of the activity box. We also have a bread making machine, ice cream makers, games and puzzles available to our clients, caregivers and families. The boxes are just starting points, the Caregivers are encouraged to think “outside the box” to plan customized activities based on their clients abilities, likes and dislikes. The “Fit Box is one box that each client has and keeps at their home. In the “FIT BOX” We have resistance bands and stress balls for both caregiver and client and exercise guide for how to use the bands and balls. We also have balloons to blow up for balloon volley ball (our fun and sneaky way to get in an upper body work out)
Each Month we also send out a list of Holidays for that month and ideas on how to implement activities relating to the holiday. We also include craft instructions and recipes. Last month between Superbowl, Olympics, Valentines day, and Mardi Gras, everyone had so much fun. I was really impressed with the creativity and interesting approaches the caregivers took to engage their client. One Caregiver and client made Mardi Gras masks and enjoyed a delicious Cajun meal complete with New Orleans jazz music.
Almost all of our clients made good uses of their superbowl in a bag and had superbowl party with healthy “couch gating” snacks, banners and table decorations. Since all of our clients and caregivers were entered in to our Care Innovations Super bowl “squares“ pool, we were all glued to the TV at the end of every quarter to see who won Congrats to Mercedes, Angelia, Von and our client Mrs. S.
Click on the following link to see some of the fun things we will be doing this month. If you would like some of the instructions or recipes, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.