What Are Some Therapeutic Activities?

Older Americans are said to benefit from participation in a variety of different therapeutic activities. You may have heard this mentioned in conversation or read about therapeutic activities generally or even specifically for an older person. Despite having heard about therapeutic activities, you may not have a complete understanding of what that means and what that encompasses.

Through this article, we provide an overview of some of the more commonly utilized therapeutic activities. These are therapeutic activities that have also been found to be particularly valuable to older individuals:

  • Exercise training
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Animal therapy
  • Reminiscence therapy
  • Geriatric group therapy
  • One-on-one therapy

Exercise Training

Exercise and fitness programs can be therapeutic for older individuals, including older women. Exercise and fitness programs are beneficial physically to an older person. In addition, exercise and fitness can be therapeutic for an older person in the sense that these activities can have a positive impact on such an individual’s overall emotional and mental state.

Music Therapy

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as:

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. 

Examples of how music therapy can benefit a person, including an older individual, include:

  • Promote wellness
  • Manage stress
  • Alleviate pain
  • Express feelings
  • Enhance memory
  • Improve communication
  • Promote physical rehabilitation

Art Therapy

The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as:

Art therapy is an integrative mental health and human services profession that enriches the lives of individuals, families, and communities through active art making, creative process, applied psychological theory, and human experience within a psychotherapeutic relationship.

Art therapy is utilized in a variety of settings. As you will see, this includes senior communities like assisted living centers:

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Veteran’s clinics
  • Private practice
  • Psychiatric and rehabilitation facilities
  • Community clinics
  • Crisis centers
  • Forensic institutions
  • Senior communities

Animal Therapy

Medicine News Today reported on animal therapy. The publication provided a useful definition of this therapeutic practice:

  • Animal therapy, also called pet therapy or animal assisted therapy, refers to various services using animals to help people with specific physical or mental health conditions.
  • Animals may be able to provide comfort, alert others if someone is in danger, or even perform direct actions to help a person’s condition when they are in need. It is a type of complementary or alternative therapy. It should enhance but not replace other treatments.
  • On the whole, the goal of animal assisted therapy is to alleviate or help people cope with some symptoms of various conditions where possible.

Reminiscence Therapy

Reminiscence therapy is defined as:

Reminiscence therapy is also known as life review therapy. It is often used to treat severe memory loss or dementia. Reminiscence therapy works by encouraging people to revisit moments from their past. It is a form of talk therapy. Reminiscence therapy may use props or sensory stimulation to spark memories. Smells and sounds from a person’s past are some examples. It can work in both one-on-one or group settings.

Reminiscence therapy is a fairly new therapeutic practice. Identified benefits of reminiscence therapy include:

  • Improved mood and behavior
  • Better cognition
  • Lessened strain on caregiver
  • Higher confidence
  • Reduced depression
  • Better connection to loved ones
  • Higher self-worth

Geriatric Group Therapy

In some instances, older individuals can benefit from actual group therapy. Indeed, this might include a more targeted derivation, most often technically referred to as geriatric group therapy. This type of therapy permits older people the chance to share their concerns, fears, needs, objectives, and so forth in a safe therapeutic setting. 

One-On-One Therapy

One-on-one therapy or individual talk therapy is another type of therapeutic activity that might be beneficial for older individuals in some instances. Richard Miller, a writer in the realm of wellness, explained individual counseling or one-on-one therapy in a recent publication:

Individual counseling is tailored to the specific needs of the individual, which means it can be beneficial to almost anyone. An individual’s current needs will dictate the treatment plan, though this could change over the course of therapy. Whether you’re coping with grief or psychological trauma, handling depression or career dissatisfaction, or simply seeking to improve your general outlook, individual counseling can provide some form of healing. Along the way, the therapist will likely identify unhealthy behavioral patterns you may not even be aware of, so therapy can help you grow as a person, too.

Many medical and psychological experts suggest that the best interests of an older person can be better served if an older person engages in more than one of these therapeutic activities on a regular basis. In point of fact, many assisted living communities follow the lead of these health experts and offer these types of programming to residents in their communities.