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

Posted By on June 1, 2022

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.

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?

There are many different benefits of playing – and the best part is that the positive impact can be experienced right away. In addition, research has shown that play in older adults can lead to numerous mental and physical health improvements, including:

  • Stress relief: One of the most significant benefits of play is its ability to relieve stress. When you are doing something enjoyable, your body releases endorphins, which elevate mood and reduce stress.
  • Improves brain function: Whether you are playing ball outside or finishing a puzzle in the comfort of your living room, play has a positive impact on cognitive function. By playing, you improve your reaction speed, critical thinking, and your communication skills if you are playing with others. These all are important to keep the mind sharp.
  • Improves 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.

Along with these clear benefits, we would like to suggest one more. Play is fun. At HarborChase Senior Living, we seek ways to make each day enjoyable for our 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, as opposed to work, which is 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: Enjoyable outdoor games include pickleball, which just happens to be the fastest-growing sport among older adults.
  • Puzzles: This classic activity is a great way to spend time in tranquil solitude or with a friend. Puzzles are also great for cognitive function and health.
  • Art & Music: Few activities are more enjoyable than creating something beautiful to share with others.
  • Dance: If you want to experience physical, mental, and emotional benefits, turn on the music and dance! It is one of the best activities for cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and social engagement.
  • 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.

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 visit our website!


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