Every May the entire month is dedicated to celebrating our seniors with Older Americans Month. This year the theme is Connect, Create, Contribute which encourages older adults and their communities to: Connect with friends, family and services that support participation; Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment; and Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.
Connect with the younger generation by spending quality time together playing outdoors.
Create by planning a resource event to inform older adults about services and supports available to them. Miracle Playsystems recently attended an Older American's Month Event in Oakland, CA. The event was set up to gather seniors together to give them resources such as: senior services, health screenings, art exhibits and many more activities.
Contribute by coordinating a series of community betterment activities like gardening.
The senior community often gets overlooked when it comes to fulfilling their needs in outdoor spaces such as senior/community centers, parks, senior/retirement villages, and other outdoor gathering spaces. We've talked about what a Senior Playground is in a previous Blog post titled "Playgrounds aren't just for kids". While Senior Playgrounds are gaining popularity, we wanted to talk about other elements of outdoor recreation opportunities for Seniors.
Benefits of Music for the Elderly
Music is not just for entertainment but it can also be a type of medicine for the body and soul. Playing music involves the entire brain and has many benefits including learning language, improving memory and focusing attention as well as physical coordination and development. A study, conducted by Suzanne Hanser, chair of the music therapy department at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, identified the following specific health benefits of music making for older adults:
Lowers blood pressure
Decreases heart rate
Lessens anxiety and depression
Enhances immunological response, which enables us to fight viruses
There have been numerous studies which show music has many benefits for people living with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia. A Stanford University study shows that music engages areas of the brain which are involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating events in our memory, which means that listening to and playing music is particularly beneficial for people with Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia because the music targets the areas of the brain that are most affected by the disease. Another study into brain plasticity concluded that senior citizens over the age of 75 who frequently played a musical instrument were less likely to have developed dementia when compared to those who rarely played a musical instrument.
For these reasons music should play an active part in everyone’s life, even when it might appear that there is no benefit at all. Percussion Play has many outdoor musical instrument options available to add to courtyards of senior centers, parks, and senior living facilities. Check out more musical instruments on our Products page.
Group Game Time
There are many benefits of physical games for seniors who still have good mobility. Getting outside can boost their overall health both mentally and physically. As more and more active seniors move into retirement communities, facility operators are searching for new and exciting amenities to generate interest among prospective residents. Sports geared for seniors is a perfect addition to these facilities. There are several popular outdoor games for seniors.
Here are some examples that can be added to a retirement community, local park or community center.
Pickleball - Outscore your opponent by using a solid paddle to hit a lightweight ball over a net while avoiding tennis-like faults.
Shuffleboard - Win by sliding your colored disks into the highest scoring zones and strategically knocking out the disks of your opponent.
Ping-Pong - Also known as table tennis, ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight ball back and forth across a table using small rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net.
Horseshoes - Outscore your competition by tossing your horseshoes and getting them to land closer to the stake than your opponent's horseshoes.
Having a variety of games can be beneficial to seniors since not all of them are physically active. Exercising your brain with board games such as chess can improve a senior's mental state.
Chess - Use your most creative strategies to protect your king while outwitting your opponent and putting his or her king into checkmate.