Therapeutic Recreation for Seniors

18 February 2016

Activities for the mind, body and soul!

My sister and I recently toured a variety of independent and assisted living residences, seeking just the right ‘next move’ for our parents, now well into their 80s. After multiple visits to south Calgary residences, we found ourselves at AgeCare’s Walden Heights, where we encountered a plethora of amenities that checked all our boxes and made this facility a stand out.


“This might be the one!” we said out loud to each other; what a relief it would be to find a great new living situation for our parents after our lengthy and exhaustive search.


At AgeCare Walden Heights we were immediately impressed with the warmth and vibrancy of the supportive living residence. The staff we encountered were knowledgeable and professional, but it was their warmth and kindness we ultimately won us over. They seemed genuinely happy to be interacting with the residents, and more importantly, the residents seemed content, responsive and more engaged than any residents we had seen anywhere else.


“This feels like a happy place,” my sister said to our guide. She agreed heartily, and after hearing that AgeCare was the eighth assisted living residence we had visited in three days, she referred us to a healthcare professional who took great measures to educate us about AgeCare’s philosophies and list important features that set this organization apart. Among the facts she shared, we learned about AgeCare’s practice of Therapeutic Recreation; a concept that recognizes leisure, recreation and play as an integral component of optimum health and wellbeing. We were impressed!


rec therapy“Our programs include more than BINGO,” she said, adding, “although BINGO is a big hit – it stimulates the brain, utilizes some key motor skills, and gets people out of their shell.”


In discussion we learned that AgeCare’s practice of Therapeutic Recreation is a contemporary approach to quality of life for people living with illness or disabling conditions. The key focus of this philosophy is to promote rehabilitation by offering a wide array of programs that stimulate people on multiple levels, including physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual.


My sister, a practicing psych nurse, was instantly onboard. “Heck yes, this is a winning formula across all the populations,” she said. “It makes sense for anyone at any stage in life.”


With further investigation we learned that Therapeutic Recreation includes such activities as word scrambles and word finds, as well as games that involve remembering the names of other participants and staff. While there is often a ‘fun’ component to the activities, they all have inherent benefits, including things like memory stimulation, stress reduction, enhanced motor function, socialization and personal satisfaction. The list of benefits was varied and extensive.


After several days of foot-driven investigation, my sister and I left intrigued – if not leaning toward the AgeCare residence. The next step we are moving toward is to bring our parents to AgeCare Walden Heights, now that this community has passed the rigorous ‘daughters test’.


These steps we take with our aging parents can sometimes feel onerous, but one thing my sister and I know know for sure – we are lucky to be at their side helping guide them through these important decisions.


We want our parents happy, healthy and safe – exactly what they have hoped for us our entire lives… a wish that has come full circle!


*NOTE: AgeCare has proclaimed the week of February 22 to 29 – Therapeutic Recreation Week. They invite family, friends and staff to join in this celebration by sharing pictures and stories of your passionate pursuits – specifically those that stimulate mind, body and soul. For more information on the qualities and benefits of Therapeutic Recreation visit: http://www.alberta-tr.org/  or http://canadian-tr.org/

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