The Benefits of Play & Why It’s Important for Older Adults

Posted By on February 1, 2024

When most people hear the word “play,” they likely picture children playing together, laughing, and enjoying themselves. However, very few imagine an older adult. For many, the idea of “playing” ends in childhood.

Whoever said that playtime was just for kids has yet to discover the marvelous benefits it brings to the lives of older adults!

At HarborChase Senior Living, we believe enjoyment and fulfillment should extend throughout a person’s life – and that senior living is the perfect opportunity to do just that. There are many physical and mental health benefits of play for seniors, and throughout our communities, there are countless opportunities for fun and excitement.

By incorporating play into your active lifestyle, you can rediscover the joys of childhood – and have a lot of fun along the way.

What Are the Benefits of Play?

Play isn’t just for amusement; it’s a powerhouse of benefits for older adults. There are many different benefits of playing – and the best part is that the positive impact can be experienced right away. It stimulates the mind, nurtures creativity, and boosts overall happiness. Whether it’s games, hobbies, or social activities, play enriches our lives in countless ways.

Engaging in playful activities not only brings laughter but also fosters a sense of youthful enthusiasm, reminding us that age is just a number when it comes to experiencing the sheer delight of play. In addition, research has shown that play in older adults can lead to numerous mental and physical health improvements.

Let’s explore the wonders of play, why it’s an essential part of well-being, and how it brings joy to the lives of older adults. Grab your inner child by the hand and embark on this playful adventure toward a more vibrant and fulfilling life!

Stress Relief 

One of the most significant benefits of play is its ability to relieve stress. When doing something enjoyable, your body releases endorphins, which elevate mood and reduce stress.

Improves Brain Function 

Whether playing ball outside or finishing a puzzle in the comfort of your living room, play positively impacts cognitive function. Playing improves your reaction speed, critical thinking, and communication skills if you play with others. These all are important to keep the mind sharp.

Enhance Relationships

Social isolation and depression are growing issues among older adults, but play can dramatically reduce your risk. When you engage in play with others, you share enjoyable moments together. This not only benefits you personally, but it creates lasting bonds with your family members, friends, and neighbors.

Opens the World of Possibility

You can experience the world outside of yourself when you play. Playing with others helps you develop greater compassion and empathy, which has positive benefits on your mental health as well as your relationships with others.

Imagine laughter reverberating through corridors, hearts brimming with delight, eyes and faces lit up with smiles. That’s the magic of play! At HarborChase Senior Living, we celebrate joy through play by organizing a myriad of activities. From competitive board games to therapeutic art sessions, our luxury senior living communities create environments where every day is infused with happiness and camaraderie.

Along with these clear benefits, we would like to point out one more. Play is fun. At HarborChase Senior Living, we seek ways to make each day enjoyable for residents. Because when it comes to playing, isn’t having fun the whole point?

Types of Play

Now that you have seen the many benefits of play, you might be asking, “That’s great, but what exactly is play?”

It is simple: Play is any activity done strictly for recreation and enjoyment – and just plain old-fashioned fun – as opposed to work, which is typically more serious and has a defined practical purpose.

Or, as Mark Twain wrote: “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do … play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

Here are some of the most common types of play older adults enjoy:

Games and Puzzles

Games are not just child’s play but a gateway to mental agility for older adults. Mind games, trivia nights, and brain teasers stimulate cognitive function and memory retention. 

Puzzles are also a classic activity that is a great way to spend time in tranquil solitude or with a friend while boosting cognitive function and health.

At HarborChase Senior Living, we organize regular game nights that foster friendly competition and encourage residents to stay mentally sharp and socially connected. Associating the joy of playing games with mental exercise empowers older adults to keep their minds active while having a blast.

Indoor games are not the only place to flex your fun muscles. Enjoyable outdoor games include pickleball, which happens to be one of the fastest-growing sports among older adults.

Gardening and Nature-Based Activities

Connecting with nature through gardening or nature-based activities is therapeutic and fulfilling. At HarborChase Senior Living, we recognize the profound benefits of these activities. Gardening allows older adults to nurture life, witness growth, and harvest the literal fruits of their labor.

The joy of watching a seed blossom into a thriving plant brings an immense sense of accomplishment, fostering a deeper connection with the natural world while encouraging individuals to stay more physically active.

Culinary Delights and Cooking Classes

Exploring the culinary arts through cooking classes and themed cooking sessions brings a delightful fusion of play and creativity. Cooking tantalizes taste buds, promotes a sense of accomplishment, and encourages social interaction around the stove and table. 

Our luxury senior living communities offer cooking classes and exhibitions that teach new recipes and create a communal space where residents can bond over shared culinary experiences. From baking bread to mastering international cuisines, the kitchen becomes a canvas for culinary exploration and fun.

Art and Music

Few activities are more enjoyable than creating something beautiful to share with others. Art and music are not just activities but vibrant expressions of joy and connection.

Picture this: swirls of paint blending together, turning a blank canvas into a masterpiece during an art session in one of our communities. Residents put on their creative hats, picking up that brush and expressing their inner Picasso or Michelangelo. What’s more exhilarating? We love to share these creations during art exhibitions, where applause and admiration fill the room, creating a warm sense of community and appreciation for each other’s unique talents.

And oh, the power of music! Feel the rhythm pulsing through your body as you join our group sing-alongs or tap your feet to live musical performances. Whether strumming guitar strings or swaying to a beloved tune, music sparks memories and emotions, harmonizing with our residents. It’s not just about hitting the right notes; it’s about orchestrating moments of sheer joy.


Let’s groove tonight! Dance isn’t just about moving your body; it’s about setting your spirit free and embracing the sheer joy of movement. At HarborChase, our dance sessions are lively celebrations of life and the embodiment of play!

From elegant ballroom waltzes to jazzy swing moves, our dance floor is a playground for joy and health. It’s not just exercise; it’s a heart-pumping, mood-lifting fiesta that’s fantastic for cardiovascular health and boosting vitality.

Now, let’s talk brains! These tangoes of delight aren’t just about fancy footwork; dance is a mental symphony. Learning new steps challenges and activates the mind, keeping it sharp and agile. The beats and movements promote cognitive stimulation, enhance memory, and improve coordination, not to mention sparking endless smiles.

Dance is an explosion of happiness and connection, raising our emotional IQ. Our dance sessions aren’t performances; they’re heart-to-heart conversations through movement. Bonding, laughing, and supporting each other as we dance like nobody’s watching – because who cares? The joy of the dance floor is infectious, creating an irresistible vibe of unity and positivity.

Storytelling and Book Clubs

Imagination knows no age limit, and storytelling or participating in book clubs allows older adults to immerse themselves in rich narratives. Falling into storytelling sessions ignites creativity, celebrates imagination, and encourages self-expression. Book clubs provide avenues for intellectual discussions and shared experiences through literature. 

At HarborChase Senior Living, residents gather for cozy storytelling sessions where anecdotes and memories come alive, fostering connections and a love for literature.

Sensory Stimulation and Crafting

Engaging in sensory activities and crafting allows older adults to explore their artistic side and indulge in tactile experiences. Our luxury senior living communities offer a variety of crafting sessions that stimulate creativity and enhance fine motor skills. 

From pottery to painting, these activities provide avenues for self-expression and stress relief. Crafting encourages residents to unleash their inner artists, creating beautiful works of art and embracing the joy of self-discovery through various mediums.

Imaginative Play

When was the last time you dressed up and played make-believe? This activity is especially fun for intergenerational play with your children and grandchildren. Both sides benefit immensely when older adults and young children can play together.

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At HarborChase, we love to celebrate senior living. One of the best ways to celebrate with our residents is to offer opportunities for play every day. With a full calendar of social activities and enrichment programs, our exquisite fine dining experiences, and opportunities for excursions into the surrounding areas, there is always something new to experience and enjoy in our luxury senior living communities.

We hope that you will take the opportunity to play soon! To learn more about how HarborChase Senior Living can empower residents in our communities, we invite you to contact one of our associates!

Updated: February 2024

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