Beyond Bingo: Meaningful Activities for Aging Adults

Gone are the days when bingo was the highlight of life at a senior living community. These days, sixty is more like the new forty, and activities at senior living communities are reflecting that. (It doesn’t hurt that today’s seniors are embracing senior living earlier than other generations, which is moving the needle on everything from activities to dining options and more.)

“Today’s seniors are really looking to put the ‘golden’ in the ‘golden years’ and are demanding more meaningful activities in this new chapter of life,” says Diane Reier, Lifestyle Specialist at Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights. This is good for many reasons beyond staying entertained, she says.

“Mental stimulation is just as important for aging well as physical activity and eating a healthy diet,” she says. “Many studies have shown that individuals who find fulfilling activities and a sense of purpose in their senior years are healthier, have a lower incidence of depression and other health problems and can even potentially stave off mental decline.”

Meaningful activities also bring aging adults in contact with other like-minded individuals, fulfilling an important social need. “Emotional and social engagement is one of the primary seven dimensions of wellness, and is required for a well-rounded health profile,” Diane says. “And let’s be honest – bingo just isn’t cutting it for the Baby Boomers. These are individuals who’ve been looking towards retirement as an opportunity, not as a facet of ‘getting old.’ They’re redefining what it means to be a senior, and communities are rising to the occasion to help them achieve the experience they demand.”

So what do “meaningful activities” mean for today’s seniors and today’s senior living communities? Here are just some of the activities that are becoming de rigeur on activities calendars across the country:

Lifelong learning opportunities.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Today’s seniors are choosing to expand their minds and their talents through classes, workshops and partnerships with universities and organizations across the country. Ever wanted to learn to speak a second language, study art history or even begin a new career? Online universities and sites like LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) mean that anyone can learn a new skill, anywhere, as long as they have an Internet connection. For those who prefer in-real-life, hands-on learning, many communities hold classes on site, or work with local colleges or universities to provide courses that interest residents.

Group fitness classes.
Stay physically active and have fun while you’re at it with group exercises like tai chi, yoga, water aerobics and other classes designed to get you moving. Living a healthy lifestyle is a preventative approach to helping residents avoid or manage health issues like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and even depression. Fitness classes can take place at the on-site fitness center (yes, that’s a staple at pretty much all senior living communities these days) or off site with hiking, walking and running clubs.

Field trips.
There’s so much to see, learn and do in our communities. Seniors, who have become accustomed to taking trips and experiencing opportunities in their community (and who finally have the time to do those things), are jumping on the field trip bandwagon. Trips to see sporting events, visiting national monuments, enjoying a concert or shopping at a newly opened boutique are eagerly anticipated and attended by today’s seniors. Best of all, these scheduled field trips have transportation provided by the senior living community – meaning the residents don’t have to worry about driving or parking, just having a good time.

Special interest clubs.
What sort of hobbies do you enjoy? What pastimes have you wanted to try but never had the time or opportunity to pick up? Senior living communities are helping residents continue their favorite pastimes and find new ones through special interest groups and clubs. While some of these clubs may be organized by the leadership at the community, many senior living communities encourage residents to form their own groups based on their particular interests. From gardening to book clubs to happy hour aficionados and more, the sky’s the limit for what you can learn and do.

Music and music therapy.
Music is a language that speaks to the heart of every human being, and senior living communities bring music into the lives of their residents in many ways. Performances by local groups and musicians are a staple on many events calendars, as are singing clubs or instrumental groups formed by the residents themselves. Music can also be a healing tool to help encourage whole-body wellness. Music therapy classes bring in trained music therapists to encourage, entertain and stimulate the minds of residents – particularly those living with dementia or other cognitive issues.

Special events.
Celebrating the holidays like Christmas, 4th of July, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day are pretty common events at senior living communities, and these days they take celebrations a step further and hold events throughout the year to entertain residents, celebrate occasions and bring friends, family members and community members into the life of the community.

Art and art therapy.
As with music, having a creative outlet can help seniors explore new talents or find a new passion. For seniors who are enjoying their well-deserved retirement, this is an opportunity for them to try their hand at painting, sculpting, writing or composing – in essence, an opportunity to chase those lifelong dreams they may have always had but put aside in order to raise a family or pursue a career. Art therapy sessions use a variety of mediums to help individuals work through their feelings or express themselves.

Outdoor excursions.
Ah, the great outdoors. Everyone, no matter how old or young they are, needs the opportunity to get out in nature, enjoy the fresh air and bask in everything the wide open spaces have to offer us. Senior living communities recognize this need and will often offer outdoor excursions to nearby attractions. For example, at Prospect Heights, seniors can enjoy strolling along the Des Moines River Trail or visiting Lake Arlington for an afternoon picnic.

“At Prospect Heights, we believe this is the time of your life to learn, to experience, to explore and to enjoy,” says Diane. “That’s the essence of our VIVA! lifestyle and the Pathway to Living philosophy. Our distinctive senior living community invites you to Live Well. Age Well. Be Well! Because that’s exactly the type of lifestyle today’s seniors deserve.

Live Well Beyond Ordinary at Aspired Living®

Offering Independent, Assisted Living and A Knew Day® Memory Support, Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights is a distinctive senior living community designed to offer seniors residing in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs area a fresh alternative to “typical” senior living communities.

Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights provides residents with the ideal balance of personalized support, dignified privacy and enhanced independence complemented by luxurious amenities and our life-enriching, award-winning VIVA!SM programming by Pathway to Living®.

Managed by Pathway to Living®, an innovator in senior living, Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights offers the choice of a private studio or a one- or two-bedroom apartment and the beauty of a brand new community, stunningly appointed and decorated for unsurpassed comfort and style by the award-winning senior living design firm, Thoma-Holec Design, Inc.

For more information, please call Diane or Janette, Lifestyle Specialists, at 224-300-4760.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights for general informational and educational purposes, and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.