As play is crucial for a child’s development; it is also beneficial for people of all ages. Play can add joy to life, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect one to others and the world around you.
Seniors are more likely to watch TV or sit behind the computer, than engage in fun and rejuvenating play like they did as children. It is important for the elderly to engage in fun activities as it has many physiological and psychological benefits. We have listed some benefits of being playful here –
1) Physiological Benefits — Being playful exercises muscles, sends more oxygen to and stimulates blood flow to the brain and circulation and thereby aids muscle relaxation. It also builds a healthier immune system.
2) Cognitive Benefits — Playfulness optimizes learning, boosts flexible thinking and in turn imagination and creativity, and makes new connections in meaning, which is also known as critical thinking. Fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function.
3) Emotional Benefits — Play is fun and can trigger release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemical. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. It also increases empathy in seniors, combats depression, builds self-esteem and self-efficacy. Play can heal emotional wounds. If an emotionally-insecure individual plays with a secure partner, for example, it can help replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive assumptions and actions. . Play can also heal resentments, disagreements, and hurt.
4) Social Benefits — Playfulness connects people and helps make new friends, makes it easier to express ideas and share perspectives based on positive experiences, and uses laughter to increase other healthy coping mechanisms. Sharing, laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to be a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations and break the ice with strangers.
5) Boost creativity – Young children often learn best when they are playing—and that principle applies to seniors, as well. One learns a new task better when it’s fun and in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and problem solve.
There are countless ways to let loose and have fun. Here are six ideas to get you started –
1) Board game evening: Board games are social in nature, generally requiring more than one participant. Whether you prefer a game night with the whole family or strictly with adults, board games exist for every occasion.
2) Dance: Do it alone, with friends, or strangers but just dance and have fun! Any style, any place, it’s therapy in itself.
3) Join a yoga class: Plan for fitness with fun and don’t put it off for another day!
4) Tickle your funny bone: If there are no friends around to be silly with, keep funny movies, humorous books, comic strips, or amusing photos around. Practice laughing, it does your body good.
5) Do art and craft without worrying about the outcome: Grab a random stack of magazines and make a collage, without worrying about whether it will turn out good. Having fun is more important. Coloring is a form of creative expression that can help reduce stress and increase ability to live in the moment.
6) Go on a retreat: To make it extra playful, you could toss a coin to decide on the direction you’ll start out in. Then just go wherever you are drawn. Let your playfulness lead the way.
7) Play a sport: Find a partner or a team and take up a sport like tennis, basketball or football. It’ll keep you physically and socially healthy—and of course they’re fun.
Samvedna Senior Activity Centre in Sector 57, Gurgaon, is a place for seniors to nourish their mind, body and soul. We have a series of programmes to suit different interests.
The Entertainment programme at the centre is for seniors who want to have some fun and also social interaction with peers. Activities in this programme include dance therapy, music classes, playing cards, Tambola and movie outings. Know more here – Caregiver Services