So It’s Older Americans Month – But Why Should a Senior Care to Play?

Seniors Are Never Too Old to Play!

May is Older Americans Month, a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation for the older adults in our community. The theme of this year’s Older Americans Month is Never Too Old to Play!

One way we can celebrate the seniors in our lives is to encourage and provide opportunities for them and their loved ones to PLAY!

What exactly is play? It’s defined in the dictionary as the state of being active; a recreational activity; and brisk, fitful or light movement.

“Okay”, you might say, “but why is it so important for my senior loved one to play?” There are many reasons it is important to them and to us (the young’uns), but we’ll keep it brief.

For them: Lifelong participation in social, creative, and physical activities has proven to provide seniors health benefits, including retaining mobility, muscle mass, and cognitive abilities.

For us: When seniors are involved in play, especially with others of all ages, they perform an important role in sharing their experience, wisdom, and understanding, and passing on that knowledge to other generations in a variety of significant ways. Studies show their interactions with family, friends, and neighbors across generations enrich the lives of everyone involved. Young people who have significant relationships with a grandparent or elder report that these relationships helped shape their values, goals, and life choices and gave them a sense of identity and roots. Plus, we get to have fun spending time with them.

In order to provide ways for our seniors to continue to play as they age, many communities have increased their efforts to provide meaningful opportunities for older adults—many of whom remain physically and socially active through their 80s and beyond.

Here are some examples of community sponsored ways to engage your senior loved one in PLAY!

  1. Dancing – whether it is line dancing, square dancing or ballroom dancing, many centers and agencies are hosting ongoing classes and clubs to bring together seniors for fun, sharing and exercise.
  2. Swimming – water aerobics or swimming in the warm waters of community and neighborhood pools offers another way to play, exercise and meet other people.
  3. Mall walking – many malls across the country open their doors for seniors who want a safe, climate controlled location to exercise. Many malls have created mall walker clubs providing times for like-minded seniors to get together to share experiences and friendship.
  4. Senior Events – check out your local area administration on aging for month-long events such as Senior Fun days, carnivals, health fairs, play dates, whale watching, arts and crafts, quilting classes, ball games, picnics and Zumba fitness.
  5. Tai chi – join other seniors practicing the gentle movements of this activity that connects mind and body and has been called “meditation in motion”
  6. Take a stroll in your local botanical gardens and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers!
  7. Check out activities at your local American Legion post or Veterans Post. They often have socials and activities your senior would enjoy!
  8. Urge your senior loved one to join a book club and talk with others about a good book! This keeps the mind active.
  9. Get them to attend a performance of the local community theater. There are many showings that can tickle the funny bone!
  10. Suggest they volunteer for a local organization such as the Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, Church group, library, hospital, nursing home, museum, service organization or school. Your senior has years of wisdom, expertise and adventures to share with others, especially children!

We encourage you and your senior to go out and PLAY today!

We would love for you to share how you played today ~ feel free to drop us a note to tell us about your adventure!

4 thoughts on “So It’s Older Americans Month – But Why Should a Senior Care to Play?”

  1. Hi,

    This is a great list! I would add music-making groups to this list. Here in the Kansas City area, we have the group Forever Young, seniors who join with college students to perform “modern” music (1950s on). There is also at least one community choir for seniors singing older songs, as well as an abundance of church choirs.

    Also, playing with a pet is great fun! My grandfather loved playing with his hyperactive beagle Mollie until just shortly before he died. Nothing lit up his face like Mollie did!

    • Thank you so much Rachelle! Your additions to the list are fantastic! We are certainly coming into a time when there will be more community sponsored outdoor music performances to share with our seniors! Getting involved with a choir sounds like a joyful idea! I am glad your grandfather had a companion to share his days–don’t we all love our pets! My grandparents loved their little dog and treated him like a king as we do our own baby! We hope you enjoy our future posts and look forward to your interaction!

  2. Most people think that seniors should just stay home because they are old, fragile and weak. That shouldn’t be the case because seniors need exercise too. Actually this is good for them and they should go out, engage in activities and have fun as much as they can.

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