Why Are Activities Important in Assisted Living?

One of the more important aspects of an assisted living program are different types of activities for residents. A typical assisted living community provides a variety of different activities for residents. There are a number of reasons why activities are important in an assisted living community. We discuss these activities and their importance in this article.

The key reasons why activities are important in an assisted living community include:

  • Socialization and community development
  • Emotional wellbeing of residents
  • Cognitive health of residents
  • Physical health of residents
  • Life enrichment
  • Entertainment and fun

Types of Activities at an Assisted Living Community

Before diving deeper into the reasons activities at an assisted living community are so important, we briefly discuss what some of those activities tend to be in these types of facilities. These activities include:

  • Fitness programs
  • Educational classes
  • Entertainment programs
  • Social events
  • Enrichment programs
  • Community fieldtrips
  • Resident meals

Socialization and Community Development

At the heart of the importance of activities in an assisted living community is the fact that they provide opportunities for socialization and community development. Research has revealed a number of important benefits that are realized when an older person regularly socializes with others. These findings were affirmed during the years of separation that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefits of socialization include:

  • Longer life span
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved mental health
  • Improved brain function
  • Overall better quality of life

Emotional Wellbeing of Residents

Activities of different types at an assisted living community are important to enhancing the overall emotional wellbeing of residents. Participation in regular activities have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of such emotional and mental health issues and conditions like:

  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Social anxiety

Cognitive Health of Residents

The regular socialization that is provided by participation in assisted living community activities demonstrably helps prevent:

  • Social isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Stress

A summary of studies provided by the National Institutes of Health entitled Use of Physical and Intellectual Activities and Socialization in the Management of Cognitive Decline of Aging and in Dementia: A Review concluded:

Lifestyle nonpharmacological interventions can have a deep effect on cognitive aging. We have reviewed the available literature on the effectiveness of physical activity, intellectual stimulation, and socialization on the incidence of dementia and on the course of dementia itself. Even though physical activity appears to be beneficial in both delaying dementia onset and in the course of the disease, more research is needed before intellectual stimulation and socialization can be considered as treatments and prevention of the disease. Through our paper, we found that all three nonpharmacological treatments provide benefits to cognition and overall well-being in patients with age-related cognitive impairments. These interventions may be beneficial in the management of dementia.

Physical Health of Residents

Among activities at a typical assisted living community are those associated with fitness and exercise. These include fitness or exercise programs like SilverSneakers. The various physical health benefits afforded to people in assisted living that participate in fitness programming and other community activities include: 

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced arthritis
  • Decreased risk of osteoporosis
  • Fewer cardiovascular problems
  • Stronger immune system

Life Enrichment

Activities at an assisted living community are important because they enrich an individual’s life. Indeed, many assisted living communities have programming that is targeted specifically at life enrichment for residents. These include such things as:

  • Art classes
  • Reading groups or book clubs
  • Lectures and presentations
  • Entertainment
  • Learning opportunities of different types
  • Enrichment courses of different types

Most of these types of enrichment opportunities take place onsite at an assisted living residence. However, they also include fieldtrips into the community for different types of enrichment opportunities. These can include museum visits, attending plays and other productions, and so forth.

Most assisted living communities plan enrichment programming availabilities around what residents specifically desire. In other words, residents call the proverbial shots when it comes to activities designed to enrich their lives.

Entertainment and Fun

Finally, activities available to residents of assisted living communities are entertaining and fun. The very real benefits of having fun cannot be understated. Research has demonstrated that having fun, that engaging in enjoyable activities, can benefit an older person’s life in a number of different ways that include:

  • Reduce stress
  • Enhanced sleep quality
  • Improved social skills
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Improved memory
  • More energy
  • Increased productivity

More broadly speaking, engaging in activities that are enjoyable – having fun – also makes an older resident of an assisted living community feel all the more youthful.

The bottom line is that the myriad of activities that usually are available at assisted living communities serve a truly important purpose. These activities of different types have tangible, identifiable benefits that simply cannot be denied. Indeed, assisted living activities in and for themselves are significant reasons why this type of residential community can make the most sense for an older individual.