7 Ways to Increase Activity Participation Among Senior Residents

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Donna Mae Scheib

7 Ways to Increase Activity Participation Among Senior Residents

Posted by Donna Mae Scheib on January 22, 2018

7 Ways to Increase Activity Participation Among Senior Residents

Scheduled events and activities in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and even independent living communities can take a lot of work and planning for a community director or activity coordinator. If attendance at these events is low, it might be a struggle to engage participants and get them to come back for future events.

Here are some suggestions to help make sure your events are successful—both in numbers and in spirit.

Make Use of Acquired Information

On your community’s application form, feature a section on hobbies and interests so that potential residents can communicate the kinds of events they enjoy. For residents already in your community, have an activities suggestion box available or send out a survey—this will help give you ideas for future events while also providing a way for residents to share comments and concerns about past events.

Use an organizational data sheet to keep tab on the most popular interests and schedule events related to these interests on a monthly activity calendar. Residents—especially those who are new to your community—will be more willing to attend and participate in activities they’re familiar with, whether its playing different types of card games or participating in exercise classes.

Create Invitations

Are you planning on hosting a special event like a holiday party or a talk from a guest speaker? Create awareness by posting flyers and signs in well-traveled areas. You may also consider delivering the flyers to residents by hand to make the invitation to the event feel personal.

Have Relatives Join the Fun

It can be difficult to meet new people; many people fear not being accepted in new social circles. Inviting family members to events offers an opportunity for residents to attend these events with people they know, providing them with a comforting buffer when they meet their neighbors for the first time.

Respect Boundaries

Not everyone has the same interests or will get along—this is true of every community, not just senior living organizations. Don’t try to force friendships; instead, use listening skills to recognize uncomfortable situations and conversations. If you are introducing residents to one another, foster connection by guiding the conversation toward similar interests and easy discussion topics.

Create a Move-in Day Ambassador Team

Forming a group of resident volunteers that can meet and greet families and seniors on move-in day offers a chance for new residents to meet some friendly faces. This team can encourage the new resident to join an event scheduled for later that week. The team can also invite new residents to coffee in a common room or to eat with them in the dining facility. Knowing some familiar faces in the community may increase the new residents’ willingness to participate in events or weekly activities.

Include a Variety of Events

As important as it is to have routine classes and events on your activity calendar, don’t be afraid to get creative and offer new options for your community. Whether educational, entertaining, engaging or interactive, new experiences are great for a person’s health—and this is especially true for seniors.

Don’t Over Plan

It’s good to have a general structure in place for your event, but over planning can lead to restricted conversations between residents and can even stop the fun! Keep icebreaker activities short and sweet, and provide conversation starters when necessary. Most importantly, allow for natural conversation development and give everyone a chance to engage in the activity!