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20 Best ideas for Nursing Home Activities

Nursing Home Activities and Operation Schematics

Are you wondering what type of activity is best for a nursing home? If YES, here are the 20 best ideas for nursing home activities.

Individualized activities are the epicenter of quality life for residents in nursing homes or assisted living residences. Activities are not just about bingo and watching television, they should be extremely creative and stimulating for the mind.

It is imperative for residents’ quality of life. Nursing Home activities are governed by federal regulations called F-Tags. In the United States, F-Tag 248 notes that “the facility must provide for an ongoing program of activities designed to meet, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment, the interests and the physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident.”

When you are considering activities for nursing homes, different factors come into play. Not only is it critical to look into any physical limitations, but cognitive abilities as well.

Thankfully, several fun and engaging activities, such as games, gardening, and ice cream socials, are ideal for nursing home residents.

Have it in mind that the biggest challenge for any recreational therapist rests on matching the right activity to each resident’s individual physical and cognitive capabilities.

Recreational therapists are expected to work closely with their nursing staff to choose an activity that will be of utmost benefit to the needs of each individual resident.

Nursing homes offer a variety of activities to suit residents’ varying abilities and interests. Here are some of the top ways nursing homes help residents stay active.

Best ideas for Nursing Home Activities

  1. Gardening

According to reports, this activity is seeing a resurgence in popularity. In some nursing homes, residents enjoy growing herbs in a window garden or planting flowers in pots.

Although many nursing home residents are no longer capable of fully tending a traditional vegetable or flower garden alone, some facilities still maintain gardens where volunteers assist the residents by working alongside them or working under their direction.

At the minimum, this activity affords residents fresh air, sunshine, and mental stimulation that is very much needed to keep boredom and depression at bay.

  1. Dancing

Dancing is ever-popular in senior communities and is a daily event for most. Dancing is not only fun, but it helps keep residents fit. In addition, it is an excellent social opportunity. Residents often enjoy a variety of dancing styles:

  • Ballroom dancing
  • Line dancing
  • Swing dancing
  • Square dancing
  1. Pet Therapy

This activity offers a wonderful opportunity for trained volunteers to bring certified therapy pets into the facility for the residents to interact with.

Holding a guinea pig or petting a dog or cat can be very therapeutic for animal lovers, and may even draw some more reserved residents out of their shells.

  1. Exercise Activities

Exercise promotes healthy blood flow to the brain and increases mobility. Today’s senior communities work to ensure fitness and fun through different activities, such as:

  • Meditation and Tai chi
  • Yoga and chair yoga
  • Gardening
  • Swimming
  • Zumba and Spin class
  1. Holiday Programs

In a Nursing Home, you can leverage holidays to create enticing programs like holding a Labor day picnic or early Thanksgiving celebration and inviting residents’ families, offering Halloween trick-or-treating so children from the surrounding community can go from room to room gathering treats, and holding a Christmas decorating party to trim the tree.

Other ideas include holding an Easter egg hunt for the residents’ grandchildren or having a 4th of July celebration that might even include watching the local fireworks display.

You might even consider holding a New Year’s Eve celebration, although many facilities have their party in the afternoon or early evening rather than keep residents up until midnight.

  1. Entertainment

As we all know, Entertainment is a mainstay of most nursing homes. Entertainers often perform in communities so residents don’t need to travel. Sometimes, friends and family are even invited. Types of senior living entertainment can vary:

  • Stand-up comedy
  • Visiting choirs
  • Visiting choirs
  • Pedigree dog shows
  • Drama groups
  1. Story Time

This tends to include different things. Indeed, young people can read to residents of nursing homes. However, an interesting alternative would be for the seniors to tell their stories to the youngsters. A good number of children will be fascinated by history and are amazed that there was life before Gameboys and mp3 players.

  1. Music and Karaoke

Singing is good food for the soul. There’s no such thing as bad singing if it comes from the heart. Many nursing homes stage their own competitions like “American Idol” or “The Masked Singer,” but even old-fashioned karaoke is a blast.

Residents may even be serenaded by community choirs or other talented musicians. Whatever it may be, residents can sit back, relax, and enjoy.

  1. Tailgate Parties

Weather permitting, you can leverage a section of the parking lot and recruit staff or volunteers to park their cars together and set up a cooking area to grill brats, hot dogs, and hamburgers.

Align with the kitchen staff to provide some side courses like potato salad, baked beans, and coleslaw. Set up tables where residents can eat, and bring everyone back inside to the day room to watch the game on TV.

  1. Special Events

Many events are holiday-themed, but no special occasion is needed to have fun. Note that some communities hold carnivals for residents complete with cotton candy and dunk tanks, while others host senior proms or screenings of major events such as political debates and sports championships.

Indeed, the different community hosts different kinds of special events, so be sure to explore ones that interest you or your elderly loved one.

  • Classic car shows
  • Art shows
  • Fashion shows
  • Pool parties
  • Happy hours
  1. Birthday Parties

There are many opportunities for activities here. Some residents might like to take part in decorating a room for a fellow resident’s party. Others might prefer to help bake and decorate a cake.

The party could be set up as a private event for the resident and his or her family, or it might include fellow residents according to the birthday honouree’s preferences.

  1. Field trips

Who doesn’t love going to new places, spending time with friends, or simply trying something new? Many nursing homes plan field trips to help residents bond and learn.

  • Concerts
  • Local museums
  • Sporting events
  • Plays or musicals
  • Movies
  1. Folding Laundry

Don’t feel guilty about providing residents with a task to do. Have it in mind that many will have worked their whole life and will enjoy the prospect of getting on with a job and feeling useful. Something like laundry folding can provide a sense of purpose that could help to boost their mood and self-confidence.

  1. Outdoor Excursions

People of all ages need opportunities to breathe fresh air, smell wildflowers, or walk among the trees. Frequent nursing home exercise activities set outdoors help residents immerse themselves in nature.

  • Picnics
  • Nature trail walks
  • Community service projects
  • Trips to farmers’ markets
  • Visits to the park
  1. Laying the Table

Notably, this can be an enjoyable task for someone with dementia. If they get knives and forks muddled up and need a bit of help, consider getting some placemats that clearly mark where cutlery should sit. Alternatively, they may want to help with clearing away or washing up.

  1. Card Making

Making your own cards can be a very enjoyable activity: Fold a piece of A4 card in half then make sure you have lots of materials ready to decorate it with.

For instance, use old wildlife magazines, gift paper, or wallpaper to create a collage, and get out the paints, colored pencils, tissue paper, and stickers. You could also use smaller items to stick on the front, such as buttons and ribbons.

  1. Scrapbooking

This can be a great activity to stimulate reminiscence as well as provide something for residents to do. You can give each resident their own scrapbook and then encourage them to stick photos and images that remind them of their life. It can also be a very useful tool to help care workers get to know people in the home.

  1. Jigsaws

Jigsaws can make a wonderful small group activity; they are ideal for between two and four people, especially if the jigsaw is relatively large and has a reasonable number of pieces. One of the best things about puzzles is how versatile they are.

For mild or early stage dementia, a 3D puzzle could be very absorbing, whilst later on a 24-piece puzzle might be more appropriate. The simplest puzzles with 13 pieces are a good choice for those whose conditions are more advanced.

  1. Board Games

Residents can still get enjoyment from certain board games, depending on their level of condition. For instance, if you want to get the conversation flowing, you could try Call to Mind, which is a board game designed specifically for people with dementia.

However, other traditional games such as Large Print Scrabble, card games (image snap), or dominoes could be enjoyable too. For more board game ideas, go here.

  1. Group Sing-a-Long

Nothing beats getting everyone together to sing along to classic songs and tunes. You can pick the ones that will resonate most with your residents (start by having a think about what era they would have grown up in). Pick songs from when they were in their teens and 20s.

You can usually find the words for songs online, so print out song sheets that people can follow if they don’t know the words. Or you could invest in a song lyric book and a sing-along CD.

While thinking of the ideal activities for your nursing home residents, remember that it is important to get the residents’ input about what they’d like to do. It is no secret that people are more inclined to take part in activities that match their interests, and you never know where the next great activity idea will come from.