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Recreational Therapy for Older Adults

Enjoying our favourite hobbies is an ideal way to stay mentally and physically active and protect our overall health. However, hobbies are also the best form of therapy for older people diagnosed with illness or who have a disabling condition.

When a caregiver uses hobbies in a routine to promote overall well-being in an older person, the practice is known as recreational therapy.

What is recreational therapy?

Recreational therapy involves utilizing activity-based interventions to address a patient’s health needs. This practical, holistic approach promotes mental and physical health and well-being while enabling patients to participate in activities they enjoy. It has also been shown to reduce depression, increase cognitive skills, and improve socialization.

Recreational therapy can be used with other treatments that directly treat the diagnoses. For example, recreational therapy isn’t designed to cure a mobility issue. However, it can help the person live a joyful, fulfilled life despite their condition.

These programs can be carried out in almost any care-based setting, including within the older person’s home. We believe that therapies are most effective when conducted in a safe, familiar home environment where the person has lived for decades.

Types of activities in recreational therapy

Activity-based recreational therapy encompasses a wide range of interests. It can be modified to suit the person’s lifestyle and mobility requirements. Here are six examples of recreational therapy activities that help improve the health and well-being of your older loved one:

Arts & crafts

Recreational therapy can include arts & crafts so the older adult can express themselves creatively. Activities such as drawing, painting, sculpting, knitting, or creating something using wood, cardboard, and other materials help mentally and physically stimulate the person and provide a sense of accomplishment once the artwork is completed.

Brain exercises

Activities that challenge the mind, such as crossword puzzles, riddles, logic puzzles, and sudoku, are stimulating for older adults. Brain exercises require strong attention, memory, and visual and spatial processing skills, thus helping to ward off cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Cooking and baking

Many older people, especially if they live alone, cease cooking for themselves, even if they cooked every day in the past. Cooking and baking are highly effective parts of recreational therapy, as they stimulate all five senses. Try a new healthy recipe or an old family favourite with your loved one and enjoy the delicious rewards together afterward!

Outdoor activities

Getting out of the house for light physical activity is another critical part of recreational therapy. Hiking, walking, swimming, biking, birdwatching, and light gardening are all excellent ways to increase energy levels, improve muscle strength, optimize balance, and boost mood. Even going to a local café to enjoy coffee is beneficial to the person’s well-being.

Music therapy

Listening to music is one of the easiest ways to reduce stress and promote cognitive function. Music memories are typically stored in a different part of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, so listening to music or singing and dancing are all excellent ways to trigger happy memories and improve mood. If your loved one plays an instrument, encourage them to hold “concerts” for friends and family alone or with other musicians for improved socialization.

Pet therapy

Developing a relationship with a pet is a rewarding experience for anyone. However, for older adults who feel lonely or have difficulty socializing, pet therapy can help reduce stress and signs of depression. If your older loved one can’t manage a pet full-time, consider bringing a dog or cat into their home regularly for some bonding time, or take advantage of a dog therapy program.

The benefits of recreational therapy

Ultimately, recreational therapy is a valuable tool that brings your older loved one significant benefits that can positively that can impact their overall quality of life, including:

Improved physical health
Physical activity through recreational therapy can help preserve strength, flexibility, and mobility, which can help ward off the onset of arthritis, osteoporosis, and other age-related conditions.

Better Mental Health
Recreational therapy activities can also support mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. They also improve mood by providing a renewed sense of joy and purpose.

Enhanced cognitive function
Mentally-stimulating activities help exercise the brain and improve memory, thereby slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms.

Increased Socialization
Many of these activities can involve family, friends, or groups, providing many opportunities to interact with others. This can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation that can lead to depression.

Try some of these recreational therapy activities with your elderly loved one to help them lead happier and healthier lives. If you need help designing a program or support when implementing it, CareHop’s team of professional caregivers is just a phone call away.

Quality in-home elder care services in Etobicoke, Mississauga, and Brampton

CareHop specializes in providing safe, quality eldercare services when you need a helping hand. Our goal is to bring peace of mind to families while protecting their loved one’s health and well-being.

We specialize in professional in-home nursing care, PSW services, and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care that focuses on your loved one’s needs and helps them have a great day every day. We can also help design or implement an older relative’s recreational therapy program with a priority on safety, respect, and fun.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation discussion to discover how we can help you.

About the Author

Michael Lu is the founder of CareHop. He started the business inspired by his Grandmother to look at ageing as a happy experience to bring sunshine into the homes of others.

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