How Visiting Groups and Program Creation can Bring Positive Stimulation to Nursing Home Residents

Senior man in wheelchair with therapy dog at his feet

While nursing home residents can experience loneliness and loss of independence, they can benefit greatly from regular visits by groups like quilting clubs, knitting groups, and scrapbooking clubs. These visiting groups bring something that’s often missing from nursing home residents’ lives – interaction with people their own age and interests. Visiting groups give nursing home residents the chance to get out of their rooms and socialize with others, which helps with keeping their minds sharp and gives them a positive outlook on life.

Nursing Home residents in a stretch class

Therapy dogs

There’s a lot of research behind just how good pets can be for people. According to Psych Central, petting a cat or dog can actually lower your blood pressure. Other studies have shown that having animals around during stressful times in life has been shown to reduce blood pressure and the risk of a heart attack in humans.

When family pets die, they become an important substitute spouse whose death can result in grief and depressed moods. From these studies, we know that interaction with animals — not necessarily just pets but also zoo animals, farm animals, etc — can make us feel good overall (and happier).

If you work at a nursing home and have seen your residents struggle with loneliness, a visit from a pet therapy dog can make all of the difference. This type of animal-assisted therapy gives your residents positive stimulation while also providing them with an opportunity to engage with other seniors in their community and bring some joy into what might otherwise be lonely days.

Vocal performance groups

Singing groups can provide much-needed stimulation for nursing home residents. That’s because singing is an activity that provides social engagement, cognitive stimulation, and emotional bonding. Singing in a group gives participants a sense of community and purpose—two things that may be sorely lacking when you live in a nursing home. And while vocal performance groups come in all shapes and sizes, they serve essentially the same function: They sometimes visit nursing homes on a regular basis (typically monthly or quarterly) and sing music chosen by their clients.

Dance-based therapies

Studies have found that dance-based therapies can boost holistic health in seniors. By Holistic health, I mean one that stimulates the mind, body, and spirit. The UK is one of several countries where dance therapy has been formally approved as a complementary therapy by its national health system. In contrast, senior centers and nursing homes have introduced dance groups to help stimulate their residents. For some, dance or movement-type therapy sessions may be covered by health insurance, which can make it an affordable and accessible option for the treatment of symptoms and maintenance of their quality of life.

Mobility in Motion

A senior program’s combination of music, dance, and physical movement is a proven way to give seniors with limited mobility an enriching experience that improves mood. The best part? Anyone can learn these simple dances; you don’t need special training. Start small with friends and family or get together with a group of people and see how easy it is to improve someone else’s day—no matter where they live!

How this works for people who don’t have any family members or friends nearby

There’s a large group of people visiting nursing homes and senior centers who are thrilled to spend time with residents; they aren’t family or friends, but they still provide joy. It’s important for seniors to have positive stimulation in their day-to-day lives, and visiting groups can help them get it. If you know someone who is isolated due to a lack of visitors, why not suggest that he or she join a senior activity club? They will probably thank you for it. -MM


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  • Songs can send us back in time and stir up memories for people. I have known people in care homes that cannot pick out a family member from a crowd but know all the words to a song from 50 years ago! Also animals are so knowing and completely agree about them being wonderful companions. I would also suggest getting people outside and listening to bird song and feeling the wind and warmth of the Sun is a good way of improving mood. Thank you for this article.

    • neftalia2017 May 4, 2022

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I will write a part 2 on things seniors can do in nature.

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