8 Ways to Help Older Adults Stay Active and Engaged
Staying active through outside services:
A variety of reasonably priced programs and services can help older adults become more active and engaged. Making a good match for them depends largely on their condition and needs.
Boredom is a common complaint of older adults whose health limits their ability to be active or who have become isolated. And it's not just a minor issue -- boredom affects mental and physical health and can lead to depression.
Here are eight ideas for combating boredom and isolation, all with a track record of success for older adults. To find the best fit before you jump in, get as much input as you can about which options might be appealing to the individuals you're caring for.
1. Adult day programs or daycare
It can be hard to get past the name -- it sounds like childcare, and some older adults find it stigmatizing -- but many adult day programs offer fabulous opportunities for people of all abilities.
Basically small-scale health and social clubs for retirees, adult day programs usually include exercise classes, field trips and outings, support groups, and nutritious meals. Most are run by, and housed at, nonprofit senior centers or senior organizations that charge on a sliding scale.
Typically, an older adult stays for the day or part of the day. If she has dementia or Alzheimer's, you can find programs tailored to her unique needs.
How to find it: Contact your local senior center, listed in the phone directory or online. Or try using the Caring.com's Directory of Local Resources and Services.
A local Area Agency on Aging is a one-stop shop for senior information and referrals. (This agency is useful for tracking down many of the resources listed below, and can also be found at 800-677-1116.)
2. Senior centers
Until someone begins to age, it's easy to miss these amazing resources, which dot the country in communities large and small, rural and urban. Pretty much every town has at least one senior center. Often run by the city or county and funded largely by the federal government, senior centers offer a variety of services, from classes and support groups to day programs and meals.
Each senior center tends to have its own personality, based on the community it serves. Dances, outdoor hikes, political forums, volunteer placement services, health clinics, and therapeutic massage are just a few things you might find. Check with a local senior center to learn what's available, but expect to find programs for older adults of all ability levels. Fees are usually on a sliding scale.
How to find it: Senior centers are listed in the phone directory or online. Be sure to use the local town or neighborhood as a keyword. Or try getting in touch with your local Area Agency on Aging.