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Leisure options in nursing homes

If you are thinking about moving into a nursing home, you may be wondering what the lifestyle will be like once you move in.

Last updated: October 18th 2021
Group of residents painting at their aged care home
Aged care homes provide monthly social and activity calendars to ensure their residents are busy and keeping happy and healthy. [Source: Shutterstuck]

Key points:

  • Your aged care facility may try to incorporate your personal interests into their activities calendar

  • Activities that build on your health and wellbeing, physically and mentally, tend to be popular and encouraged by lifestyle coordinators

  • You don't have to participate in everything on the social and event calendar, you get to decide how active you are in your aged care community

Aged care providers have been putting great effort into lifestyle activities that encourage good health and wellbeing of their residents.

Most aged care facilities have onsite community officers or leisure coordinators who organise monthly calendars of events and activities in and outside the home.

When you move in, your aged care facility will ask you about your likes and dislikes, and this also includes your personal interests. Most nursing homes will try to incorporate your hobbies and interests into their activity calendar to help you transition into your new home easier and give you something to look forward to on an ongoing basis.

Here are some leisure activities you can expect to see in most aged care facilities.



Exercise

Living in aged care, it may be easy for you to forget to keep your body moving as much, which is why many facilities provide leisure activities that are focused on fitness.

Some activities may include a morning walk to get you up and out of bed, moving those legs, and give you a good start to the day.

Other fitness activities may include stretching classes, yoga, pilates, or breathing exercises, which would help keep your muscles nice and limber.

If you are more competitive, other forms of exercise may appear as modified sports activities, like bowling, basketball, soccer, and much more.

Some nursing homes provide sensory activities for their residents that can get your body moving and enjoying yourself.

Hands on activities

Community and leisure clubs at aged care facilities are developed to mirror the interests and likes of their residents. And in most cases, the lifestyle coordinators are more than open to suggestions about activities they can rotate into their monthly lifestyle calendar.

Arts and crafts are a big part of aged care facility lifestyle activity calendars, which can include flower arranging, knitting, collaging, and painting. Anything creative can be facilitated in community and leisure clubs, and sometimes aged care homes have pre-set "me time", which allows you to pursue your own interests with the assistance of lifestyle staff.

Other activities you can find in aged care facilities may include board games, card games, game nights, music therapy, dance, cooking classes, gardening and hobby clubs, and cognitive ability exercises like puzzles or electronic console games.

Most nursing homes provide the means to facilitate club activities for groups of residents who have a shared particular interest. This could be a book club, specific sports fan club, social club, Men's Shed, and so much more.

Discuss with your lifestyle officer if you have a particular interest you would like to pursue at the facility.

Community outings

Many aged care homes have a special connection with their local community and organise regular outings. If you are looking for a fun day out, this will be a great activity for you!

The aged care facility will organise a bus or mode of transport to get a group of residents out of the aged care home, this could be to a museum, a sports game, farmers market, seeing a movie, or zoo experience. Carers will come along to help you get around if needed and make sure you stay safe.

Usually, these outings will be weekly for basic activities, like visiting the shops, going for a coffee, or visiting your local Church on Sunday. Whereas, visiting a museum or concert may be less regular.

Leisure coordinators can even organise bigger trips away if you want to do something out of the box, like a weekend trip with the girls down to Tasmania. You are always able to suggest outing trips to the coordinators, big or small suggestions, which lets them know they are meeting your wellbeing needs.

Dress up and special occasions

For big events, some aged care homes organise "dress up" days for their residents to get the opportunity to dress fancy or a little bit wild!

This could be dressing up to watch the Melbourne Cup, putting on your scariest costume for Halloween, or getting in the Christmas spirit by dressing up as Mrs Santa.

These events can be a lot of fun and bring something unique to your life in an aged care home.

Even charity events like the World's Greatest Shave can be a great deal of fun resulting in wacky hair and clothes.

If you want something more formal, your home may even host a black-tie ball so you can get dressed to the nines.

Additional lifestyle features

Aged care facilities can be more than just a place to receive care and may have on site facilities that make the nursing home experience so much more enjoyable to live in and add to your overall lifestyle in a home.

Some aged care homes have a bar area with weekly happy hours, so you can catch up with other friends in the facility and bond over a favourite drink or two. Similarly, many nursing homes have onsite cafes for their residents to enjoy a good cup of coffee.

If you like to feel pampered, then onsite hairdressing, beauty services and spa experiences may be more up your alley. Looking for a 'new do' or to just treat yourself? These extra facilities can really add to your experience in aged care.

Many aged care homes provide gardens and grounds to walk on around the facility, some nursing homes may provide gardening programs for interested residents with a green thumb.

If a facility has enough room they may have a barbecue area, which can be used by you or other residents and may even have weekly/fortnightly barbecue nights.

If you have a spiritual background, an aged care home with chapel facilities may be really beneficial. Most aged care homes provide services or space for varying religions and depending on the place you choose, may have dedicated religious leaders on site. If you are looking at a home that caters towards a specific religious group, then you can be assured that you will have easy access to services that will complement your spiritual needs.

Finding an aged care home for your lifestyle needs

Living a life that you believe is worth living is really important, which is why you should consider everything a facility has to offer, including leisure options, facilities and activities when deciding on an aged care home.

Visit different aged care homes and enquire about their social calendars and amenities to see if it is the right fit for you.

If you decide to enter an aged care home, they will likely quiz you about your likes and dislikes to gauge what might peak your interest. Coordinators of lifestyle activities will likely try to incorporate some of your interests into their leisure activities to make sure you feel welcome and supported in your new home.

Remember, that just because a facility has a full social and event calendar doesn't mean you have to participate in everything. You can choose how involved you want to be and in a way that suits your lifestyle.

What personal activities would you like to continue while living in aged care? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Diversional therapy in aged care
What to consider when deciding on a nursing home
How to create a good relationship with your new aged care facility
Daily living in a nursing home

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