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May 1, 2022

The Importance of Play for Seniors

Although play is most considered the domain of children, increasing numbers of studies have shown that people of all ages can experience the benefits of play, including older adults.

At BCSLA, we provide helpful resources and education to individuals and families searching for ways to thrive during retirement and beyond. By incorporating play into your daily life, you can gain greater enjoyment and excitement during the day, improve your physical and mental health, and foster strong relationships with friends and family.

There are numerous senior living communities across B.C. that deliver opportunities for retirees to experience the various benefits of play. So, if you thought that play was only for children, think again – you can play at any age, adding fun, laughter, and fond memories to your life.

What Are the Benefits of Play?

There are many different benefits of play, and the effects can positively impact a person’s physical and mental health. Here are some of the most common benefits of play:

  • Relieve stress and anxiety: When you are doing something enjoyable, your body releases endorphins, which elevate mood and reduce stress.
  • Improve brain function: Play is essential not only for your physical health but your mental health as well. Studies show that physical activity improves cognitive function, and doing fun, brain-boosting activities each day can also positively impact your mind.
  • Strengthen relationships: Play is fun – and playing with others is a great way to form stronger relationships. When we “play” with others, we practice empathy, compassion, compromise, and problem-solving. These important skills can be used elsewhere in life to improve all relationships.
  • Unlock the imagination: People who play regularly have a wider and richer imagination. They can enter new situations with an open mind and are more willing to work with others.

In 2019, a new type of park opened – the first of its kind in Canada. Named Seniors Play Park, the Fenelon Falls-based part is designed to give older adults the chance to live an active and healthy lifestyle while having fun outside.

With parks like this one opening in Canada, a greater focus is being placed on the benefits of play for seniors.

Types of Play

Although play is known to have many positive health benefits, there remains an unfortunate misconception that it is seen to be reserved only for children. This could not be further from the truth.

In fact, there are many games and activities that people of all ages can enjoy, which fall under the broad umbrella term of “play.”

  • Games: Older adults can enjoy outdoor games and sports designed for various skill levels and abilities. One of the most popular is pickleball, which is one of the fastest-growing sports among Canadians.
  • Puzzles: Whether you are completing a crossword puzzle, a jigsaw puzzle, or Sudoku, puzzles are a fun and relaxing to enjoy an afternoon while building brainpower.
  • Art & Music: The act of creation is a form of play, and some of the most enjoyable creative acts are performing music and creating art.
  • Dance: With physical benefits that include cardiovascular health and weight loss – as well as mental benefits, including memory development – dance is one of the best all-around play activities for seniors.
  • Imaginative Play: For parents and grandparents, a favourite play activity is dress-up and imaginative play. This can be especially fun to play with grandchildren.

At BCSLA, we have become one of the most trusted educational resources on senior living communities in B.C. Our robust library of materials is available for your education and enjoyment.

Whether you decide to spend the afternoon outside today, playing a new sport or simply enjoying the weather with a friend – or you stay inside with a puzzle or board game – there are many options available for older adults to enjoy the health benefits of play.

So, we encourage you to find opportunities to incorporate more play into your daily routine. Remember, the benefits of play are not limited to a certain age group – and it is never too late to go outside and play!

Please visit our website today for more educational resources and information about senior living in British Columbia.

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