Regularly socialising with friends and family ensures that people are staying both physically and mentally active. According to the NHS, this is key to healthy ageing, as it ensures individuals are maintaining their health and their independence. Family and professional carers often plan social activities to encourage elderly loved ones or residents to live a healthy lifestyle with the support of friends. However, there are certain factors that must be considered to organise a truly successful group activity. Here are five tips for planning events for the elderly.
1. Make memories
Focus on planning an event that participants are going to remember long after it ends. While this may sound daunting, this can be as simple as bringing a camera to the activity and taking pictures of everyone as they enjoy the event. Even designating someone to capture special moments with photos may be beneficial. Not only will those who participated be able to look back at the fun they had, but people who didn't attend will feel encouraged to join in when the next opportunity arises. The Guardian also noted that people living in a residential living community will love showing pictures of their experiences to their family members, who will like to see that their loved ones are thoroughly enjoying their time there.
2. Avoid patronising activities
According to The Telegraph, a recent three-year study, backed by the Royal Voluntary Service, showed that 6 out of 10 of its elderly respondents don't use services or attend events specifically designed for them. Many of them noted that they often find these activities are too patronising. To avoid this, ensure that you're planning events that are meaningful and interesting to the participants. Similarly, make sure that you speak to those in attendance as you would with anyone, avoiding language that may come over as condescending. It can also help to include participants in the planning of each group activity to ensure that their voices are always being heard.
"This report lays out what many of us already know, that older people have a huge amount to give back to society and we should harness that expertise and enthusiasm to make services better for older people by involving them more in decision making," David McCullough, chief executive of the RVS, told The Telegraph.
Working exercise into group activities is a fun way to encourage physical activity in a relaxed setting. Working exercise into group activities is a fun way to encourage physical activity in a relaxed setting.
3. Plan with others
If you're planning an event for residents living in a care home, build a team of reliable and enthusiastic people who can help smooth out any issues that may emerge throughout the planning process. Make sure that your team understands possible challenges that may arise and come up with potential solutions so no one is taken off-guard if they do occur.
As event organiser, it's crucial that you are keeping your staff updated on any changes or modifications to your plans. It may also be a good idea to hold a short briefing the day before to run over everyone's roles.
4. Familiarise yourself with participants
"A questionnaire asking about interests and hobbies can help make the activity special." To ensure that the event is special and fun for attendees, get to know them first. Begin advertising the event weeks before the date and have a sign-up sheet for those interested in participating. Once you have a good idea of who may be coming to the event, send out a survey with possible activity ideas, food preferences and other important components. A questionnaire asking about interests and hobbies can help make the activity special as well.
If you notice that a large portion of participants have dementia, you could incorporate music into the event, as research has shown listening to tunes can serve as a particularly soothing activity for people experiencing memory loss. Provide the opportunity for people to help plan the details of the event as well. Some may prefer to sit back and enjoy the activity when it begins while others may jump on the chance to get involved.
5. Include participants of all ages
Reach out to people outside the care home, such as students and adult volunteers who are interested in attending and helping out at the event. If you plan on hosting a group film showing, for example, you could invite a local school's film class to participate. Members of the neighbourhood knitting club may also enjoy attending an arts and crafts activity and exchange tricks and tips with residents. This is a great way for both age groups to share insights and ideas on common interests in a friendly environment.
At Sunrise Senior Living, our activities coordinators plan regular social events to ensure residents have plenty of opportunities to enjoy engaging activities. To learn more about how we can help, please select Contact us at the top of this page.