How Caregivers Can Enhance Recreational Therapy Amongst Seniors

After family and close friends, the next set of people that interact closely with seniors is caregivers. Caregivers, especially those taking care of your loved ones living in continuous care retirement communities, play a huge role in their lives since they’re able to closely monitor their daily habits as they take care of them.

Caregivers may substantially influence some decisions and practices that seniors make, especially their choice of recreation. Here are ways caregivers can be involved in encouraging seniors to participate in recreational activities:

1.   Educate Them First

Educating them on the benefits of being active is the first solution to changing their mindset about not being actively involved. Explain to them the importance of upholding an active lifestyle, but not in a forceful manner. You are a caregiver, not a school teacher; you should not lecture your charges. Look for times when they’re in their best mood and be precise.

If they have any questions or misconceptions hindering them from working towards this, be kind enough to clear all those doubts. Please don’t laugh at their suggestions or opinions as it may look like mockery, but instead, alter their mindset to a more positive outlook.

2.   Identify The Barriers Hindering Participation

As earlier stated, the barriers could be caused by misconceptions they’ve held on to for a long time. Be sure to address those misconceptions. Other factors that may be preventing them from being active are:

  • Physical impairment
  • Medical conditions
  • Fear of age difference and looking foolish
  • Low confidence in not being able to keep up
  • Language barrier
  • Cognitive decline
  • Anxiety, etc.

The contributing factors are many and unique to all. Address each concern independently and work towards building their self-esteem. If you notice they’re holding back on expressing why they can’t be active, try to impress them by maybe making their favorite meal or having their close family member or friend visit them. That may help them open up. If the hindrances are medical-related, please consult their physician to advise you on how best to resolve the problem or help you source alternative options to keep them active.

3.   Take Care of Their Nutritional Needs

Nutrition is one of the vital requirements for any senior to live comfortably with minimal health complications. It also boosts their ability to handle and improve recreational capabilities if their bodies are well-nourished. Therefore, ensure that their eating habits are well taken off as they will highly contribute to the activities they participate in and how energetic they will be. Most seniors have appetite problems; therefore, it’s wise to address this with their physician earliest possible.

4.   Look For Fun Options

Engaging in recreational activities may look like another problematic chore for most seniors. Therefore, you must explore more fun options, making them long to do them without being forced.

Engage them in the process to not feel like they’re being forced into anything. Some great options of making this fun are by:

  • Pinpointing activities that align with their interests-traveling, gardening, artwork, jogging, swimming, etc.
  • Inviting their peers to be part of the activities
  • Motivating them to join senior-friendly activity groups
  • Enabling them to try out new things

5.   Show Patience

Everything takes time to be built. Shifting a senior’s routine into something they were not used to certainly needs time and patience. As you emphasize the importance of getting out there, make sure to exercise personal patience. It may take time to deal with their insecurities, but everything begins to flow once they do. 

6.   Promote Independence

One thing that could ruin everything in the whole process is not allowing the seniors to run their activities freely. Their independence is contributed mainly by the kind of activities that you choose together. Even as you monitor them, please give them the space that they need to make them feel in control.

You don’t have to take them everywhere they go. For example, volunteering work is a wholesome venture as it builds self-esteem and gives a sense of fulfillment. It also creates room for the seniors to mingle and make new friends with other people from every generation.

Pick them up afterward if they can’t easily find their way home. Alternatively, you can organize with some of their well-abled friends to safely drop them back home. So, no matter what, please don’t take this away from them.

7.   Give them a Break

Appreciate that seniors don’t have the energy they used to have when they were youngsters. It could deteriorate their health other than building their bodies positively as desired if done in excess. Keep in mind that you’re working towards their well-being, but it is never too serious.

So, whichever activity they choose to participate in, allow and emphasize the need to rest to help the body regain strength. Doing this also improves longevity in the activities they’ve chosen.

8.   Build Positive Encouragement

In the fight towards eliminating mental illness, one way to do it is by speaking positive words to people. The mind is a powerful space for any human being, no matter their age. As you review their progress, focus more on the things they’re good at instead of the ones they can’t do. No matter how simple or challenging the activity may be, give all the compliments and rewards if possible.

Allow them to share their experiences and how they feel about them and air their suggestions if they want some amendments. Doing this will also enable them to speak up whenever they face any hurdle along the way.

Besides encouraging seniors to participate in recreational activities with friends, ask their family members to participate once in a while. There’s an absolute blessing that comes with that, and it also makes your loved ones feel supported and valued.  

Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Walker
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.

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