Senior living communities have a well-deserved reputation for bingo. It is a high-stakes game of chance, where seniors grip their daubers tightly in anticipation of the letter and number combos that will land them fabulous prizes.
But bingo is far from the only pastime available to retirees. Crafting, dancing, yoga, and a whole range of other accessible recreational activities fill our residents’ days. And they are much better for it, as stimulating activities come with many well-known health benefits!
It is difficult to make a case for reading that hasn’t already been made by your school teachers. You get to explore new worlds and learn new information. Even more so, on Sundays, you can read Garfield in color.
You may just reach for the nearest copy of War and Peace after you’ve learned about the potential health benefits of reading. Seniors who regularly read, write, and do other literary activities show a slower rate of decline in memory compared to their peers who don’t. Reading can be just as effective at reducing blood pressure as doing yoga. Opening a good book before bed can give you a better night’s sleep, and it may even help you live longer. One study showed that book readers live two years longer on average than nonreaders!
When we think of seniors crafting, our minds jump straight to grandma hovering over a needlepoint or stitching together a quilt that will keep us warm for the winter. Crafting, in general, is thought of as a ladies’ domain, but this doesn’t give the fellas credit. If you tie your own flies, build ships in bottles, or do something productive with wood, then you benefit from the health benefits of crafting, too!
Challenging tasks that demand concentration can promote a greater overall sense of well-being. This is especially true when they are done as part of a group like a quilting circle. Sewing and other activities like it enhance hand-eye coordination, stimulate brain growth, and may even help to fight dementia. And even if they’re building birdhouses instead of framing houses, carpenters keep their minds active by using math and measurements. Additionally, they hone their fine motor skills and enjoy more opportunities to destress.
(Sadly, getting your finger real good with the glue gun has no known health benefits.)
“I have no desire to prove anything by dancing,” Fred Astaire once said. “I just dance.” You may not be as good a dancer as Fred, but you have nothing to prove on the dance floor, either!
Even light dancing is quite athletic, yet also more fun than most other types of exercise. The list of dancing’s health benefits is a mile long and includes:
Stronger heart and lungs
Greater muscular strength
Increased mental functioning
Higher agility and flexibility
Dancing is especially beneficial to seniors who face unique health challenges. It is one of the most effective activities to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Seniors who participated in a two-week tango class as part of one study reported less depression, reduced stress, and relief from insomnia. One study showed that dancing for just 15 minutes a day can help seniors to improve memory and overall health!
Doing puzzles is not just a way to pass the time and enjoy a pretty picture for all of your efforts. The diversion actually shares a lot in common with crafting, as both revolve around assembling something complex from smaller pieces.
Puzzling may help seniors maintain overall brain health, as well as keep their wits sharp, their reaction times quick, and their short-term memories strong. And don’t forget about the social aspect of doing puzzles! A study by Yale showed that doing puzzles as part of a pair or larger group can help to reduce stress, and spending time doing anything with friends can foster a sense of belonging.
Jigsaws aren’t the only puzzle that is good for you, of course. Crossword puzzles have been shown to strengthen memory and delay the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and Sudoku is known to improve puzzlers’ faculties of logic and concentration.
We all have the image of a master yogi in our heads. They are a lithe, toned athlete with abs that could double as a cheese grater. But you don’t have to be in fantastic physical condition to enjoy the ancient discipline – just like you don’t have to be fluent in Sanskrit!
Seniors who participate in light, regular yoga may benefit from stronger bones and core muscles, which are both essential to maintaining balance. That can be a lifesaver for seniors, as three million American seniors are treated for fall injuries in emergency rooms every year. People who wait until their golden years to try yoga may also enjoy fewer aches and pains. And just like every other leisure activity, yoga is known to significantly reduce stress.
Yoga is not the only low-impact exercise on the market, either. Tai chi, qi gong, and taijiquan (which are especially neat because you can do it while holding swords) all make fine exercise for seniors as well!
Would you like to learn more about the stimulating activities a senior can enjoy while staying with Morgan Lane Village? Then we welcome you to contact us today! We don’t keep taijiquan swords on our premises, but there are plenty of other ways to stay happy and active at our senior living community in Tea, South Dakota.