seniors running

9 Secrets for Getting Seniors to Be More Active

As an owner, administrator, or employee of a residential care facility for the elderly (RCFE), you want your residents to be physically healthy, mentally stimulated, and emotionally satisfied. That’s a tall order, and it’s always challenging for any size RCFE to meet residents’ individual needs in order to create a happy, viable community. 

Movement is crucial to a robust lifestyle, especially later in life. According to a CDC report “25% of Americans 65+ fall down and that falling is the leading cause of senior injury and death.”  Taking preventative measures like practicing balancing exercises and strength training help safeguard seniors from injury. 

Physical activity has the added benefit of improving mental health. Active seniors usually feel happier, sleep better, and are more mentally alert than those who are inactive.

senior walking activity

Provide a Positive Atmosphere for Activities

You will find it easier to get residents motivated and involved in physical activities and other pursuits if your staff is upbeat, welcoming, and exhibits a can-do attitude. Attracting the right RCFE employees in the first place makes this task much easier to execute.

Focus Staff Training on Encouraging Seniors

From assisted living classes for certification to your employee training, making certain techniques and strategies to increase the active participation of residents is a top priority. Staff members should be familiar with the needs of seniors and how seniors can be gently encouraged to participate in activities.

Emphasize the Need To Understand Residents

Although it takes time and effort, each RCFE administrator or staff member should learn about individual residents and find out what is important to them. While it’s impossible to remember everything, taking a moment or two each day provides new insights.

encourage active seniors

Create a Fun Facts Banner and Name Pin for Each Resident

A wall banner with the senior’s name and favorite activity, such as reading, yoga, or playing guitar, not only serves as a reminder to staff but also introduces the person to other residents. Likewise, a name pin with a phrase that indicates that an individual likes to read or take walks makes a great ice breaker in recreational areas.

Try These 9 Ways to Stimulate Participation

Even a small RCFE can offer a smorgasbord of physical and enjoyable activities to get residents moving and involved in new pursuits. As you look over this list, it’s important to remember that each senior is unique, and no activity will appeal to everyone.

1. Encourage Digital Photography

Residents can use a tablet, phone, or digital camera. You can conduct a class or furnish several basic photography books as resources. The seniors can print out their best efforts and hang them on the wall. Alternatively, teach them to store photos in the cloud where they can share them with family members and friends. 

Residents can enjoy the technical challenges such as composition or lighting, or they can record their particular interests by photographing flowers, birds, butterflies, or sunsets.

photography for seniors

2. Provide Gardening Opportunities

If your assisted living facility has room outside for flower beds or small vegetable plots, residents who maintained gardens in the past can enjoy bringing beauty and tasty produce to others. If outdoor endeavors aren’t possible, they can still maintain a few container plants in sunny communal areas or their rooms.

gardening activity seniors

Implement gardening classes (even for container gardening) where residents can learn how to make their plants thrive. The act of physically working with soil and the intellectual exercise of understanding how to keep plants alive is both physically and mentally stimulating.

3. Include Cooking Events

Both new and experienced cooks can enjoy interesting cuisines with different ingredients. From yeast dough to colorful salads, there is a dish to interest every palate. Choose a country or a theme for a special meal, and let each participant or a team of two make a dish.

4. Conduct Daily Steps Contests

For those who enjoy a little competition, monitoring steps get seniors moving.. Purchase some inexpensive pedometers and assign them to the participating residents. Post a chart with the competitors’ names, and see who achieves the most steps over a set period.

help seniors exercise

5. Sponsor a Little Free Library

With more than 150,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide, your residents can benefit in many ways from this project. They can help decorate the library box, solicit books from residents, staff, and family members, and keep an eye on the library to ensure a steady supply of books. Finally, they can read books exchanged in the library and hold book discussions.

6. Offer Nintendo Wii Experiences and More

These classic video games get older adults into action. Wii offers golf, tennis, and bowling for more physical activity. For newer gaming options consider introducing Minecraft to your residents. Post a chart with individual scores for those preferring to play alone or organize team competitions. Student volunteers could give the seniors tips.

7. Plan a Scavenger or Treasure Hunt

This activity gets even those with limited mobility up and moving. Provide participants with lists of items to obtain from staff members and other residents or hide items around the property for them to find.

8. Hold Holiday Parties for Neighborhood Kids

Sponsoring Christmas or Valentine’s Day parties can bring a lively event to your residents.

party ideas for seniors at RCFE

9. Develop Walking Maps to Explore the Neighborhood

Without a doubt, frequent walks offer many benefits for the seniors in your facility, and you want to encourage walking in every way possible. Creating simple neighborhood maps with routes of varying lengths provides a good way to get reluctant walkers started. Feature nearby parks, interesting buildings, and homes with beautiful landscaping and ask residents to add other ideas.

We Provide Support for Your RCFE

Whether you need RCFE staff training for new employees, RCFE continuing education for current workers, or help with how to start an assisted living facility, we offer state-approved learning opportunities and assistance. Peruse our convenient website or contact Assisted Living Education to receive immediate help with all your needs.

About Assisted Living Education
Assisted Living Education has been operating in and improving the growing senior care industry for over 15 years. Founded by certified RCFE administrators, Jane Van Dyke-Perez and Bill Perez, we have licensed more than 1,100 assisted living facilities and built close relationships with the California Department of Social Services, assisted living managers, owners and industry professionals. As senior living care educators ourselves, we strive to contribute our knowledge and skills to continually improve senior care and the satisfaction of those working in the industry.