Any nursing home must have engaging activities for its residents and summer is no different. So, why not mix up the activities for summer fun?
Think back to your own youth or to how you feel about your life now? The sun is out so do you want to clean your garage or basement? No. Do you want to stay inside and quilt? Probably not. What kinds of things are fun for nursing home residents?
Walks in the summer evening are some of the best memory triggers for people. We can smell flowers, the sound of cicadas or crickets fills the air, it’s romantic in the truest sense of the word. So, why not have summer walks in the evening -- preferably outdoors. Everyone can participate in a summer walk regardless if they’re in a wheelchair or use a walker.
Walking is great for digestion and cognitive skills. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, it can be done inside the facility as well. String up fairy lights and bring in some plants to chart the course. Get creative! Some well-placed Bluetooth speakers playing nature sounds can help as well.
How do you end the walk? With a journal prompt.
After the evening walk, return to the community room with pens and journals. Talk about your favorite parts of the walk and what walks were like during your youth. This is a fantastic way to collaborate on our shared history (and pairs well with writing interns). For those residents who prefer to draw, they can sketch in their journals. End the session by asking if anyone wants to share, then a nice cup of low-calorie cider or caffeine-free tea.
How lovely would it be to start Sunday morning with a bit of a fancy tea? Ditch the styrofoam cups and get some tea saucers and cups from the local thrift store. Decorate the tables and ask the local cooking school or church group to bake scones with creme fresh, jam, and make cucumber sandwiches. Yes, everyone is watching their diet but bland food gets old -- fast.
Bella Vista Health recommends ice cream socials as a summer activity in nursing homes. With all of the low-fat, low-sugar, and vegan options these days, why not splurge? Pair the Ice Cream Social with visiting hours or a performance from a local choir or theatre group and you have a perfectly wonderful night out (but still in). Encourage the residents to dress up and sit with new people.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to gather at the end of a summer night (maybe even after that walk) for a nightcap on the patio? Depending upon the rules, you may not be able to serve alcohol, but there are plenty of fizzes and non-alcoholic beers to choose from. Pair this with baseball on a large screen outside and you have one of the perfect evenings -- for any of us.
One of the best memories many of us have is summer art projects. Whether it is a craft night or paint and vino, bringing in an art teacher (or art student) would be fun and mentally stimulating both for individuals and the group. Group activities are the heart of summer and help to develop a sense of community for nursing home residents. At the end of the summer, hang the artwork in the community room for an art show. Invite friends and family for visiting and serve mint juleps (or their virgin cousins).
Bingo is popular in senior communities but why not switch it up for the summer? Bunco games are just as fun and help people get to know fellow residents. You can even make these bunco afternoons beach-themed. Play a little bit of surf rock, mix in some yacht rock, and even we want to go!
What would you like to do in the summer as you enter the last season of your life? Let’s continue to learn from and give to the seniors that matter most -- our community, our family, our friends. As always, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter if you found this on social media and get back to living your best life!