Senior Center

5 Types of Therapeutic Activities for Seniors

By Jan Bolder - November 8, 2013

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One of the biggest adjustments a senior can make is transitioning from living independently in the home they've known for decades and into a retirement community, assisted living facility or nursing home. However, there are several ways family members can make the change easier for them.

1. Aquafit

This water-based activity sees your senior get into a shallow, heated pool and take part in a series of calisthenics. The buoyancy of the water lends itself to activities being made easier, as no stress is put on the joints and movements become freer. Further, the heat of the water warms muscles, further enabling the person to take on a wider range of motions than on dry land.

2. Music Therapy

You don't always need a licensed or professional music therapist (although it is recommended), just a handful of instruments, a lesson plan, and a willingness to engage. Music is one of the most direct and primal ways to tap into anyone's emotional core, and one of the most beneficial ways of improving a person's health. 

3. Light Therapy

For seniors who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), non-seasonal depression, circadian rhythm sleep disorder or another mood- or sleep-related disorder, light therapy can shine a ray of hope on their lives. How it works is your senior is exposed to a specialized light source that emits specific light wavelengths designed to mimic the sun's light.

4. Color Therapy

Although very similar to light therapy, color therapy differs in one essential sense: light, in the form of various colors, is used to balance a person's mental, emotional, physical or spiritual energy levels. Having been around for centuries, it's typically used as a complementary form of therapy to others, Researchers have theorized that chromotherapy acts by generating electrical impulses and magnetic currents/fields of energy to various organs in the human body, balancing the entire system. 

5. Art

Finger painting isn't just for kids anymore, seniors can greatly benefit from it, too. Instead of aimless snipping and pasting, art therapy focuses on accessing your senior's inner experiences of feelings, perceptions and imagination. While art therapy can sometimes incorporate images and experiences in the outside world, the emphasis is usually- and most often in the beginning stages- on extracting inner thoughts and feelings.

When it comes time for your senior to move homes, engaging in any of these therapeutic activities can go a long way in easing the stress and anxiety that may be present.