7 Assisted Living Activity Ideas to Try Now
The pandemic has revealed the many challenges of living alone in isolation, especially for older people. Now, an untold number of older adults must decide if it’s time to move into an assisted living community, whether because of worsening mobility and cognition or general difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs).
At this juncture in an older adult’s life, it’s important to routinely nurture every dimension of wellness, from physical to emotional to social, to improve independence, mobility, and overall health outcomes. An assisted living community is a great place to do that.
But it can be difficult for activities directors to maintain a full calendar of accessible and engaging programming as COVID-19 protocols continue to change. Below, we’ve rounded up a list of in-person and remote-friendly assisted living activity ideas to keep residents active, connected, and fulfilled.
Accessible Movement Ideas for the Assisted Living Activity Calendar
1: Offer On-Demand Exercise Classes Designed for Older Bodies
Virtual fitness options are great for assisted living because residents can work out on their own time from the comfort of their own rooms, and activities directors can work around facility closures during lockdowns.
But a lot of the fitness content available on the internet is intended for younger, able-bodied audiences and may not be appropriate for assisted living residents.
For example, Spiro100 is a fitness and wellness video platform for seniors that offers all kinds of movement classes on demand. The platform has classes for all skill and mobility levels, so residents can find content that suits their physical needs.
2: Provide Flexibility Training to Help Prevent Falls
Strength training isn’t the only form of exercise that can greatly improve older adults’ well-being. Research has shown that consistent stretching and flexibility training can improve older adults’ balance and range of motion, which can ultimately prevent more falls beyond what strength training alone prevents.
Activities directors can offer fitness classes that focus specifically on flexibility, such as yoga. Spiro100 has a dedicated fall prevention program that incorporates flexibility and strength training to help older adults of all ability levels improve their balance and mobility.
Assisted Living Activity Ideas that Strengthen Cognition
3: Set Up Cooking Classes to Promote a Holistic Diet
Physical activity is one major pillar of dementia prevention, and diet is another. MayoClinic provides a helpful list of easy diet tweaks that can help ensure older adults are eating the food they need for a strong mind and body.
Cooking classes are a fun way for residents to stay active and enjoy good food. If residents have access to their own kitchens, you can offer a virtual cooking class for residents to follow along on their own, and staff can assist with preparation as needed.
If you’re not sure where to begin, Epicurious offers free prep videos for beginners as well as a How-To series that will help seniors sharpen their skills. For more advanced cooks, Around the World in 80 Dishes shows viewers how to make a popular dish from start to finish.
4: Incorporate Games that Stimulate the Brain
Games are a great way for older adults to sharpen their cognition on a regular basis, especially the ones they know and love.
Here are a few mentally stimulating crowd-pleasers that residents can either enjoy playing together or on their own online:
If you’re looking for additional assisted living activity game ideas, the AARP’s online game hub is a fantastic resource for members and nonmembers alike.
5: Host a (Virtual) Book Club
One recent study found that participating in activities such as reading and writing routinely may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by five years.
To give residents an opportunity to keep their reading and writing skills strong, set up monthly or biweekly meetings for residents to discuss a book together. This activity can easily be hosted over video in case of COVID-19 restrictions or resident accessibility issues.
If selecting a book that residents will enjoy seems daunting, don’t feel obligated to reinvent the wheel. Instead, join a popular book club that’s designed to spark engaging discussions from a distance:
- Oprah’s Book Club
- The Goodreads Senior Center Book Club
- The Today Show’s Read with Jenna program, led by Jenna Bush Hager
- Hello Sunshine with Reese Witherspoon
Assisted Living Activity Ideas that Bring Residents and Families Together
6: Invite Family Members Online for a Virtual Game Night
Social well-being is critical for older adults’ emotional health, and it is badly needed following more than a year of social isolation for many.
Assisted living residents, especially those who recently made the transition, want to spend more time connecting with their loved ones at home, but that’s not always possible due to either distance or COVID-19 precautions.
Beyond standard video calls between residents and their families, encourage families to schedule a virtual game night. In addition to the virtual games we listed above, we love playing….
- Yahtzee via Zoom, which requires a certain amount of trust and screen sharing.
- Scrabble online or, if your loved one enjoys using their tablet, Word with Friends on their app.
- Pictionary, which you can play on Zoom or using a free, custom online version of the game.
- Bingo, which is fun for all ages.
7: Create Affinity Groups for Residents’ Shared Interests
It can be difficult for new residents to find and make new friends upon moving into an assisted living community. Middle-age and older men in particular can have a harder time forming new friendships.
One great way to help residents connect with one another are groups for common interests. This way, residents won’t feel like they have to go out and find new friends completely on their own. You may create clubs for…
- Film discussion.
- Specialty item collection.
- Foreign language practice.
Manage Your Assisted Living Activities Calendar at Scale with Caremerge
Coming up with fun ideas is only the first step toward running a successful assisted living activities program. To increase attendance rates and resident satisfaction, you’ll need to oversee logistics, track metrics, and seek resident feedback continuously.
Caremerge’s Calendar Central provides a single digital platform for activities directors to manage room booking, scheduling, attendance data, and more. Sign up for a demo to learn how Caremerge can help your assisted living community tailor your activities program to each and every resident’s needs.