Senior Activities: Not Just for Groups


While group activities from fitness to lifelong learning are the core of many senior community programs, today’s assisted living communities also offer independent, one-on-one activities for seniors. These activities give seniors an opportunity to have one-on-one social interaction with others and to pursue interests, from art to other quiet hobbies, that do not necessarily need, or lend themselves to, a group environment.

When you (or a loved one) enter a senior living community, you’ll want to see that the staff is really taking time to get to know you, and perhaps also your close family members. It is through this personal, and personalized, interaction, that assisted living staff can find the best activities to keep residents engaged, active and inspired. Prior to choosing a senior living community, you might ask if there are any personalized, individual activity plans for residents, and what steps are taken to create that personalized activity program when a new resident enters the community.

Regulations Surrounding Activities for Nursing Home Seniors
Activities in nursing homes are regulated by the federal government through standards called F-Tags. Assisted living communities are not legally obligated to follow these standards but, in order to provide the highest quality of care, many assisted living communities pattern activity programs after F-Tag standards.

F-Tag 248 says, “… activities should be relevant to the specific needs, interests, culture, background, etc. of the individual for whom they are developed.” With this in mind, many senior communities today offer multicultural and cross-cultural activities, and may also provide individualized activities, separate from group activities. These activities may even be implemented by staff members other than the activities coordinator.

Individual Activities for Seniors: What to Expect
Of course, your expectations for activities should vary based on the cost of your assisted living facility and its activities budget, as well as your own physical and mental capabilities. To create a customized activity plan, assisted living staff might ask some questions. You can also think about the answers to these questions yourself as you choose what activities you want to join within your assisted living community.

    • What was your career before retirement?
    • Are you interested in similar activities, or would you prefer to learn completely new skills and hobbies?
    • Is there anything you’d like to do, whether it’s a hobby, skill, or sport, that you never had time to try while you were working and/or raising children and taking care of your home?
    • Do you want to learn more about your own culture or branch out and learn about other cultures, including their cuisine, holidays and music?

Individual Activities to Nurture a Personal Connection

Here are some activities that you can do one-on-one with assisted living or nursing home staff, or even family members who visit, when you’d rather have that individual interaction. Some of these activities, like gardening or painting, can be done in small groups with each resident working independently, for those who want to spend quiet time in the company of others.

  • Scrapbooking or looking at old photographs and sharing stories of those photos with a staff member or family member
  • Having books read to you
  • Reading to younger children, or even reading to other residents, if your vision is good
  • Massage therapy
  • Woodworking
  • Genealogy studies, building a family tree
  • Crafts
  • Gardening
  • Painting

Of course, you want to balance these activities, when possible, with group activities that will encourage greater socialization and enrich your time in assisted living through relationships with others. As with life before retirement, a fulfilling life in an assisted living community is created through balance.