This is one of many free activities.
Golden Carers has 1000s of activities and resources for senior care.
Daily exercise groups are an activity department staple, but with most communities discouraging group activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be wondering how to keep it up. Here are a few ideas to get everyone up and moving together (while separate).
Movement Still Matters
Your daily group exercise programs are much more than just a good way to start the morning with your residents. Movement is important for all of us, including seniors. Benefits of exercise include:
- Increases range of motion
- Increases flexibility
- Decreases depression and improves mood (thanks, endorphins!)
- Improves circulation
- Boosts immune system (quite important now!)
- Reduces chances of falling
- Decreases joint pain due to arthritis
Your exercise programs may look a bit different today due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should eliminate movement completely. Here are ideas/
Hallway activities are the new thing in senior communities across the globe. Gathering together in the hallway means residents can stay safely apart while still getting the experience of a group activity.
Movement groups work great in a hallway setting, as long as you follow good safety practices:
- Sit residents in their doorway, on a stable chair from their room
- Close the doors of any residents in the hall who do not wish to participate
- Don’t use shared objects, like a balloon or beach ball
- If you do use individual objects, choose ones that can easily be disinfected immediately after use (ribbon wands, etc.)
- Plan for one activity staff per 10-12 rooms so that you can still give adequate supervision while pacing the hall
- Defer to your community’s infection control and safety guidelines
Hallway activities that encourage movement can include:
Take a Stroll
Walking is another exercise that is important to residents. Depending on your community’s specific infection control guidelines right now, you may be able to continue with 1:1 walking with residents outside or within your community.
- Have residents sign up for supervised walking with a member of the activity staff, and then post special “I Can’t Wait to See You” reminders on their door
- Use your walking time with residents to chat about how they are feeling; follow up with the social worker as needed if you have any concerns
- Get fresh air by walking in your courtyard or garden
- Water plants along the way as you walk
- Encourage residents to drink water before and after your walk
- Document your walks by designating a certain “mileage” in your community. For example, one lap around the courtyard equals one mile. Then, keep track of how many miles your residents are walking together and share this information in your newsletter or other communications.
6 Virtual Exercise Ideas
If your residents have access to technology like tablets or smart-televisions, you can encourage their participation in virtual exercise groups as well.
- You can lead exercise groups via Zoom or video chat
- Silver Sneakers has a YouTube library of classes to choose from
- Work with your local senior center or park district to see if they will record short exercise videos for your residents to watch and enjoy
- Try a chair yoga class via YouTube
- Have a daily dance party throughout your community where you show a recording of your staff dancing to music; encourage every resident to move along to the beat too. This is an excellent daily celebration reminding everyone (staff too!) that we made it another day in this crazy world.
- Have a game of virtual catch by taping residents catching and then tossing a ball off camera. Use an app like VideoShop or iMovies to splice the videos together. Consider adding music, like Centerfield, and share it throughout your community. It’s guaranteed to brighten up spirits!
More In-Room Exercise Ideas
Here are a few ways to incorporate movement inside resident rooms, either independently or with staff support:
- Advertise an Exercise of the Day on your daily communication to residents. Provide one reason why movement is important and then a quick exercise they can do on their own or with staff sometime during that day.
- Consider purchasing over-the-door basketball hoops for resident rooms so they can shoot hoops safely inside their rooms. A designated garbage can or bucket with a soft ball can also work well.
- Coordinate a Rise and Shine Stretch before or after breakfast daily in the hallway or over technology
Don’t Forget Activity Staff!
While you are coordinating exercise groups for your residents, don’t forget to schedule movement in for you and your team too. Even a simple stretch before a morning meeting can go a long way to preparing you for the day.
How are you incorporating movement into your community while still abiding within your community’s guidelines? I’d love to hear so that we can all add to our toolbelts and better serve our residents.