February is National Therapeutic Recreation Month, which is a great time to get yourself or the senior in your life involved in recreational activities. Recreational activities are known to improve one’s mood, stamina, and overall quality of life. During the winter months, many individuals can experience symptoms of seasonal depression, loneliness, and anxiety. To keep older adults happy and mentally alert, it is important to build enriching activities into their daily lives.

Also known as therapeutic recreation, recreational therapy is based on engagement in various activities in order to enhance the function, independence, and well-being of individuals affected with a disabling condition. There are numerous types of activities that fall under the recreation therapy umbrella, many that yourself or the senior in your life may not have heard of before.

Art Therapy:Designed to stimulate creative self-expression and improve motor skills. Anything from arts and crafts to coloring can help relieve anxiety while promoting a sense of self-confidence.

Doll Therapy:Dolls have been found to be particularly beneficial for those who are lonely, agitated, or have dementia. This form of therapy allows seniors to gain a sense of independence as they care for and nurture a provided baby doll or stuffed animal.

Music Therapy: By taking part in drum circles, singalongs, and musical performances, seniors can experience reduced stress, cognitive stimulation, and creative self-expression.

Aromatherapy:Certain smells have the ability to promote a sense of calm. Lavender and peppermint are great for relaxation, calming restlessness, and even have been known as powerful links to our memories. Aromatherapy is especially beneficial to seniors with Alzheimer’s disease.

Therapeutic recreation can be provided in both individual and group settings. The recreation therapist will design programs such as group arts and crafts, bingo, birthday parties, or socials where seniors can mingle and have conversations with one another. Recreation therapy has an important social aspect to it, which focuses on including the whole group while catering to the individual needs of everyone involved. Recreation therapists will design individual exercises and activities based off each senior’s likes and needs.

Overall, recreational therapy is a tool that should be utilized by all seniors. This form of therapy allows seniors to socialize, stimulate their brains, and participate in activities that help build overall health and self-confidence.Therapeutic Recreation can be found in skilled nursing communities, assisted living, hospitals, mental health units, and head injury programs. If you are interested in learning more about Loretto’s Therapeutic Recreation Department, contact us today to learn more!






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