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Social engagement is essential in assisted living communities.
In the US, over 800,000 people live in these residences, yet, many of them experience loneliness and struggle to find meaningful interaction with their fellow living mates.
This lack of interaction could be based on individual personalities, but it could also mean a lack of activities that bring these communities together.
In this article, we’ll explain why social engagement is so important and explore some activities that bring residents together!
The Science Behind Social Engagement for Older Adults
Being connected with people, like family and close friends, is an essential part of a fulfilling life. Plus, research shows that interacting with people outside of our main circle can offer even more benefits.
One such study was published in the Gerontological Society of America by researchers from the University of Texas.
They found that older participants who interacted with family, close friends, as well as acquaintances and strangers, had higher levels of physical activity, more positive moods, and fewer negative feelings.
Here are 6 active and passive activities that help bring communities together and foster a better living environment for all!
6 Activities That Increase Social Engagement
1. Board Games and Game Nights
Board games are an excellent way to bring people together for engagement, discussion, and a little friendly competition.
Having these games available in communal areas can bring residents together for any period of time.
And since board games don’t require physical activity, it’s an opportunity for less active individuals to engage in a fun event.
Consider getting some familiar classics like:
If you don’t have board games already available, you could also ask your residents what type of games they’d like to see.
And, of course, you can always implement more group-centered games, like the ever-popular BINGO and Trivia Night.
2. Start a Book Club
Reading books is a favorite pastime for many people, but reading alone doesn’t encourage social engagement.
For this reason, you could encourage residents to start a book club.
This will let individuals share their hobbies and interests with other like-minded people, which can be a very uplifting experience.
These group events shouldn’t be limited to book clubs, either.
Let your residents express their creativity and recommend group topics like arts and crafts, music sessions, or whatever they’re interested in.
We think you’ll see more social engagement, more interest in meeting new people, and more happy faces.
3. Group Exercise Classes
For a more physically active event, offer group exercise classes tailored to the residents’ fitness levels.
Yoga, chair exercises, and gentle stretching classes can help maintain physical health and mobility while promoting social interaction.
Physical trainers and therapists offer workout plans tailored to a variety of skill levels, so do your research and find the best activities for your residents.
4. Themed Parties
Organizing themed parties is a sure way to encourage social engagement in your community.
Themed gatherings foster a sense of community and excitement that many residents miss from their days living independently.
Even if it’s not with close family members, the positive interactions at these events can create lasting friendships.
Try to host celebratory events throughout the year, such as:
- Holiday celebrations
- Costume parties
- Cultural heritage events
- Birthday parties
5. Movie Nights
It’s probably been a while since your residents saw a feature film at the movie theater.
Now you can bring this exciting event into your assisted living community.
Set up a TV or a wall projector for group movie nights! Provide regular movie screenings and serve popcorn, snacks, and refreshments for an all-time crowd-pleaser!
Your community will enjoy the nostalgia of rewatching older popular films and the excitement of watching new releases.
6. Add Engaging and Relaxing Decor
What do we mean by “engaging decor“?
In the form of aquariums and finch aviaries, we’ve provided engaging decor to assisted living communities for almost 15 years.
Simply relaxing in a communal room is a passive activity, but it’s a great way to bring people together, and these vibrant animals are excellent conversation starters.
Plus, studies show that listening to birds sing and watching fish swim is a form of sensory stimulation therapy.
Do you want an aviary or aquarium at your facility? We’ll clean it for you, too!
Choose one of the links below to learn more!
By implementing activities like movie nights, book clubs, exercise classes, themed parties, game nights, and relaxing pastimes, you can create a more cohesive group within your community.
However, this is only a short list of the many ways you can foster social engagement in your assisted living community.
Don’t forget to experiment with many group activities and discover which ones resonate the best with your residents.
At the end of the day, you’ll be rewarded with more conversations, more friendships, and a closer family within your community.