12 Virtual Senior Living Activity Ideas for Fall 2020
In every senior living community, rich and diverse activity offerings are a vital component of residents’ health, sense of fulfillment and connectedness, and overall well-being.
Now that it’s fall, communities in some parts of the country will need to bring activities back inside as it gets colder and limit attendance to maintain social distancing. Others that see regional or community upticks in COVID-19 cases may decide to halt in-person events temporarily.
No matter what course the pandemic takes over the next several months, senior living communities should provide remote programming to their residents when they are either required to or prefer to avoid in-person activities.
With the help of digital platforms like streaming services and community hubs, activities directors can easily move much or all of their calendars online. Here are 12 senior living activity ideas that are remote-friendly and collectively promote multiple dimensions of wellness to stave off the harmful effects of social isolation.
Senior Living Activities that Promote Physical Well-Being
1: Provide On-Demand Senior Exercise Classes
Since the start of the pandemic, many fitness studios have begun making classes available online, and there was already a wealth of at-home exercise content on YouTube and other sites. And this includes classes that are tailored to older adults’ bodies.
Caremerge has partnered with Spiro100, a fitness and wellness video program provider for seniors, to offer its full library of content. Having access to an on-demand fitness streaming provider not only lets seniors take classes at their convenience – it enables them to choose classes that suit their physical needs and abilities. Seniors can simply follow along from their rooms, no or minimal equipment needed.
2: Supplement Exercise Classes with Guided Meditation
Regular meditation practice can be very beneficial for older adults’ health. It can reportedly improve memory, sleep, digestion, and circulation, while decreasing stress and feelings of loneliness. Anyone can meditate anywhere, no prior experience or special tools required.
Spiro100 offers a number of mindful meditation classes in addition to fitness programs.
3: Hold Socially Distanced Group Walks (Non-Virtual)
Weather permitting, communities can organize scheduled walks for groups of 10 or fewer to take around the campus, into town, or through nearby nature.
Walking groups are great for residents who want an opportunity to safely see fellow residents in person and miss the social aspect of fitness classes (given masks are worn and social distancing is maintained). Fresh air is an added bonus.
Remote Activities to Stimulate the Mind
4: Start a Zoom Book Club
Book clubs held virtually on apps like Zoom are an excellent way to bring residents together to talk about a common interest. For smaller group discussions, activities organizers can use the breakout room feature on Zoom to give residents the chance to speak in a more intimate setting.
5: Offer Online Language Courses
Learning a new language later in life is good for the brain: research has shown that second-language study can strengthen cognition and improve neuroplasticity among older adults.
Activities directors can offer one of many online language courses to interested residents. To make it more social, they can also organize group conversations via Zoom for residents to practice their skills together.
6: Host a Ballot Party
Activities directors can consider hosting “ballot parties” to give residents a venue to meaningfully engage with others about candidates down their ballots. In addition to the presidential election, a number of state, local, and judicial races are also on every voter’s ballot this fall. Ballot party-goers can research those races in advance while coordinating with others to form voting plans.
BallotReady, a voter education startup, provides resources for activities directors who are interested in hosting a ballot party.
7: Take Residents on a Virtual Museum Tour
A 360-degree museum tour is a fun way for art lovers to travel the world virtually. Many of the most spectacular museums around the world, from the Metropolitan to the Louvre to the Vatican, now offer guided virtual tours on their website. Tours typically let viewers click around on different pieces to learn more about their history.
Events to Boost Social Wellness in Lieu of In-Person Connection
8: Set Up a Weekly Happy Hour
The virtual happy hour has been popular for adults of all ages during the pandemic. But a happy hour with over fifty resident attendees all on the same video call can be overwhelming.
Instead, consider forming breakout rooms or creating separate happy hour events once each fills 10 to 20 residents, so that residents can socialize more naturally.
9: Schedule Recurring Family Member Video Calls
One silver lining of visitor restrictions during lockdowns earlier in the year is that many communities expanded video call offerings for residents. Now, family members who live far away don’t have to drive or fly to get face time with their loved ones.
To ward off isolation and loneliness, and in case family visits are put on hold again, staff can help schedule a video call for residents who may be new to platforms like Zoom or FaceTime. Caremerge’s appointment capabilities and video link integration make it easy for staff to manage dozens of calls every week.
10: Beyond Bingo: Try Trivia or Classic Party Favorites Online
Bingo may always be a favorite in senior living, and it does work well over Zoom or Live Stream directly on resident’s TVs. But there are a number of other great games that offer online versions and are good for virtual groups:
Opportunities for Spiritual Fulfillment
11: Expand Online Religious Services
Faith-oriented senior living residents likely miss going to their weekly religious services if they’re currently unable. If their personal places of worship do not offer virtual services, consider providing residents with a list of local or national service live streams for members of different faiths.
12: Help Seniors Volunteer Virtually
Just because many senior living residents are unable to volunteer on-site doesn’t mean they can’t volunteer at all. Virtual volunteer programs empower seniors to put special skill sets to continued use and connect with new people. For instance, retired attorneys could give free legal advice to NGOs, or former teachers could volunteer to tutor via video.
The AARP has a list with a number of virtual volunteering opportunities for seniors.
Centralize Your Virtual and In-Person Activities Calendar on an Online Hub
With more residents staying in their rooms and avoiding common areas these days, it can be difficult to circulate community scheduling info so that all residents know about the events happening in your community.
A digital tool like Caremerge’s Calendar Central enables activities directors to house all calendar information in the same place online, so all residents can find out about what’s going on from their own devices. Plus, as we’ve seen so far, the circumstances of the pandemic can change fast – having a digital platform allows you to communicate scheduling updates with your community at scale as they come.
Sign up for a demo to learn how Caremerge can support your virtual activities planning this fall.