Caring Currents

Playgrounds for Seniors

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Another terrific idea for helping our elders exercise has crossed my desk, or computer screen. (Last month it was the Wii video game. )

Senior playgrounds -- honest-to-goodness, equipment-filled, outdoor play areas -- are popular in many countries, except for the United States . It's interesting to think about the political or cultural explanations for this (a different topic), but these playgrounds do attract seniors.

I can see why. They’re marvelously designed for safe, healthy geriatric activity. Check for yourself by clicking the Good Morning America link on changingaging , the blog of geriatric physician, Bill Thomas. Then click the video "Playgrounds for the Elderly." It's worth it. (This blog post, by the way, stresses how middle agers could benefit from a romp in senior playgrounds, along with their parents.)

There are senior playgrounds in England , Germany , Japan , New Zealand , and Canada . I couldn’t find any in the U.S., nor could Gwen Mergian, a nurse who writes The Cholesterol Blog for the Times Union newspaper in Albany, New York. If you know of any senior playgrounds, let me know. Bottom line: They do look like they're fun. 

Meanwhile, there are other good ways for our parents to get healthy outdoor exercise:

  • Walking, one of the best forms of exercise on earth.
  • Bike riding. Tips from The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
  • And how about a round of catch with the grandkids.

I'd welcome senior playgrounds to the list above. How about starting a movement to get some closer to home?

Image by Flickr user Ashengrove used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivus License.