How do you keep the elderly mentally and physically active?

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I am an Activity Coordinator at an Assisted Living Facility for 5 years and I am struggling with keeping our resident's mentally & physically busy, no matter what you offer, it is always too hard to do or to far to walk to or any other excuse. I do know all has a choice to participate.

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It is always a good point of keeping long term care residents mentally and physically active, this will help keep their well being. However, if you have difficulties convincing them to do a walk or exercise, there are other activities that seniors will probably enjoy... in the comfort and safety of indoor environment. Like all other suggestions given here, you can conduct a lively board games like bingo or maybe monopoly, or even scrabble and boggle - it would be a great help for seniors to improve their cognitive abilities. Invite friends, families, fellow caregivers and care recipients to join, the more.. the merrier! You can also play a game on cup stacking, or invite them to help make a healthy but easy to prepare dish and see how they enjoy eating a delicious treat together with the people who shared their efforts in preparation. :)
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I assume that you have to 'lure' them into the activity? What are the other limitations? Can you have poker day (chips or money, depending on your restrictions)? Can you get a hairdresser to come in and offer services for a reasonable price? Same for manicures? Reach out to the local religious or community groups to come visit and entice them to join their activity? (For instance, if I were with a singing group that offered a sing-along, I'd walk around to the rooms inviting folks, and offer to escort them, if they needed help.) Can you get funds/charitable offers and/or the space to start a garden, even if they're in pots? Check with some local childcare facilities and see if you can get an exchange program going. How about a cooking class? Do you have Classic Movie Mondays? With popcorn (or some other healthy substitute snack), of course *grins*

Ultimately, think about what they might do at home, on their own, if they were able (without assistance) and add a program to do it, with your/staff's help.
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exercise does the double duty of keeping the elderly physically and mentally fit (see reuters/article/2013/12/09/us-exercises-helpful-for-people-with-dem-idUSBRE9B813S20131209). getting the elderly interested in activities that stimulates the mind and body like walking around museums, participating in docent led botanical garden walks, volunteering, just getting out of the house, interacting with different people would all be helpful. There are brain games you can find on the internet and probably in community (senior) centers or even at a local public library. going out to different restaurants, trying foods from different cultures. i just think doing all kinds of different things is fun for the caregiver and the senior....
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My mom's day program has some sort of musical entertainment each and yes every day! In your 5 years there what have you found that works? There are so many YouTube videos that you could have theme days with an hour or so long program playing cat, dog, horse, zoo, baby, whatever you could possibly dream up!

The music programs at the day program are put on by churches, schools, individuals that volunteer, anywhere. And the groups have the opportunity to practice before a not very discerning, but very appreciative audience. You could also contact a service dog organization to have members visit with their dogs. So many, many things.
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Music seems to be a favorite. I got a CD that had WWII era songs, and then researched each one on the Internet, and printed out the lyrics. I played the CD and my clients and I sat around the table singing. It was SO much fun. Another fun activity is to let them play with their food ;-) Make chocolate pudding and let them draw shapes in it, like finger paint. It's very soothing. Just have a lot of wet, warm towels ready for hands later. This may prove to be hilarious, as they can lick their fingers.
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Find Teepa Snow on YouTube and look for her video on Brainy Day activities. As usual, it's short and to the point and full of good ideas.
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I started my mom on beautiful coloring books that I had seen on Amazon. She started out with colored pencils and now uses watercolor pencils. She finds it very peaceful and calming. The selections are everything from flowers, animals, stained glass, etc. Usually around $4 or $5.
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That is the C-A-T, not car.
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We do puzzles, play Yahtzee, checkers, grandsons play tic/tac/toe with grandpa. Give the person a little responsibility in the household like attending to the in/out of the dog or car, sorting silverware from the dishwasher, set the alarm on a cell phone for med times, remind them to go and take their meds. Make it easy for them to see their meds by putting them in a cup marked with the dosing time. Only put out one or two doses at a time so they don't get them mixed up.
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I love to watch my mother playing Dominoes. There are several groups of residents that get together several times a week for a round. Two different churches send someone to do a nondenominational bible study. There is a group choir that practices weekly and will preform on the occasion of family group dining. They are pretty good too. The coordinator has recorded music to sing along with.
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