How Much Do Life Enrichment Activities in Senior Living Really Matter?

September 17, 2018

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Life enrichment activities improve the lives of residents in senior living communities. Use these tips to evaluate a community’s activities program on a senior’s behalf.

When older adults and their families begin the search for a senior living community, they are sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Moving to an independent living or an assisted living community offers the chance to get involved in activities and programs with fellow residents.

What you will discover, however, is that life enrichment programs can vary greatly from one community to another. Some communities offer a wide variety of activities and wellness programs, while others offer only those required by state regulations.

So how important are life enrichment and wellness programs? Do they make a difference in how happy, healthy, and engaged a resident is?

Here’s what researchers have to say about the issue.

Staying Active and Engaged after Retirement

Much has been written recently about the dangers of a sedentary life, especially for seniors. It puts people at higher risk for everything from falls to depression and obesity. Some health professionals go as far as saying a sedentary lifestyle is just as dangerous as smoking.

A few more reasons why it’s important to find a senior living community committed to a wide variety of life enrichment programs include:

  • Protecting cognitive health: A 2010 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine highlighted how important staying socially active is for cognitive health. Participating in activities that challenge and stimulate the brain can protect cognitive function.
  • Avoiding the dangers of isolation: The Journal of Health and Social Behavior published a study in 2009 that found that “social disconnectedness and perceived isolation are independently associated with lower levels of self-rated physical health” in older adults. This includes higher incidences of obesity, diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, and more.

How to Evaluate a Senior Living Community’s Life Enrichment Program

As you are visiting and touring senior living communities on a loved one’s behalf, here are a few tips to help you evaluate the strength of their life enrichment programs:

  • Review the calendar: Ask to see copies of the community’s most recent activity calendars. Try to get calendars for at least two or three months so you can get a true picture of how many and what types of activities are offered.
  • Assess the activities: Does the calendar show a broad range of activities? Ideally, you will find programs and events that engage the body, mind, and spirit. Also compare the scheduled activities with your family member’s hobbies and interests. Are there things they enjoy? Or things they’ve always wanted to try? If a hobby or interest of your loved one isn’t listed, is it possible to have it added to the schedule?
  • After hours and weekends: Also look at what happens during the evening hours and on weekends. Are events and activities scheduled then? You want to make sure there are meaningful activities scheduled seven days a week, not just during traditional business hours.

Our final suggestion is to review the current activities calendar at any community you are seriously considering. Look for a few programs that seem appealing to your family member. Ask the staff if you and your loved one can participate in one or two. It can provide you with good insight about what community life would be like and give you a chance to meet residents.

At Legacy Senior Living communities, life enrichment activities are an integral part of everyday life. We often say our events calendar might remind you of a cruise ship, with programs, events, outings, and activities happening throughout the day. Our activities staff works hard to offer ample social opportunities for residents each day. Schedule a tour to learn more today!