The critical importance of recreation for senior citizens

The critical importance of recreation for senior citizens

As our population ages, there is an increasing emphasis on teaching and learning lifelong recreational skills. Research shows that resting is an important part of an individual’s social behavior. Leisure plays an important role in the lives of the elderly, contributing to improving the quality of life. People who participate in leisure activities as senior citizens report significantly higher life satisfaction than those who do not.

Physical rest is especially important. Physical activity reduces almost every risk of disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes. Participating in recreational activities also improves mental health. Again, research shows that older adults who participate in recreational activities have better coping behaviors in response to stressful life events and daily frustrations. They learn that social support is important and available through these activities.

Unfortunately, we have come to view our old age as a time of declining activity and social interaction. As a result of these expectations, aging people often assume that recreational activities are not capable of or will not be available to them. They often cite scarce financial resources, lack of transportation, or poor health as reasons for avoiding these important activities. While there is some validity to these concerns, we often overlook the growing resources being devoted to wellness among senior citizens. Some of these resources are:

  • Travel programs. Fees are usually required, but big discounts are often offered for seniors.
  • Volunteering. Adults bring valuable experience, wisdom and compassion to others
  • Elderhostel. A worldwide travel program offering affordable adventure and education for seniors
  • Theme parks. Senior days! Special entrance fees!
  • Entertainment and Arts. Museum and theater tours often provide discounts and transportation for seniors
  • Local parks and recreation programs. Great outdoor activities
  • Community gardening. Check with your local Parks and Recreation office
  • Centers for the elderly. Free or discounted rates and more!
  • Book clubs. Reading and socializing are a powerful therapeutic combination for the brain

It is important for senior citizens and their caregivers to seek out recreational activities even at this time when they may be reluctant to do so. Research shows that older adults who participate in these types of activities tend to stay active once they start.

Western cultures sometimes view their aging populations as economic and social liabilities. In fact, when cultivated, they become assets. Recreational activities can provide the support and motivation seniors need to allow them to give their valuable time and wisdom in return for caregiving.

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