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The Critical Importance of Recreation For Senior Citizens

As our population ages, more and more emphasis is placed on teaching and learning lifelong recreational skills. Research has shown that recreation is an important part of an individual’s social behavior. Recreation plays a critical role in the lives of older adults by contributing to quality of life. Seniors who participate in leisure activities report significantly higher satisfaction than those who do not.

Physical relaxation is especially important. Physical activity reduces the risk of almost all diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes. Participating in leisure activities also improves mental health. Again, research shows that older individuals who participate in leisure activities are better at coping in response to stressful life events and daily frustrations. They learn that social support is important and available through these activities.

Unfortunately, we see our senior years as a period of decreased activity and social interaction. As a result of these expectations, aging people often assume that they are unable or will not be able to engage in leisure activities. Scarce financial resources, lack of transportation, or poor health are often cited as reasons for avoiding these important activities. While there is some validity to these concerns, we often overlook the growing resources that seniors devote to wellness. Some of these sources are:

  • Travel programs. There are usually fees, but there are often significant discounts for seniors.
  • Volunteering. The elderly bring valuable experience, wisdom and compassion to others
  • Elderhostel. A worldwide travel program offering affordable adventure and learning for seniors
  • Amusement parks. Older days! Special entry fees!
  • Entertainment and Arts. Museum and theater tours often offer discounts and shuttles for seniors
  • Local parks and recreation programs. Great outdoor activities
  • Community Gardening. Check with local parks and recreation offices
  • Elderly care centers. Free or discounted meals and more!
  • Book clubs. Reading and socializing are a powerful therapeutic combination for the brain

It is important for the elderly and their caregivers to find leisure activities even at this time when they are reluctant to do so. Research shows that seniors who participate in these types of activities tend to stay active once they start.

Western cultures sometimes see the aging of their populations as an economic and social responsibility. In fact, if nurtured, they become assets. Leisure activities can help and motivate the elderly to contribute their valuable time and wisdom to this care.

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