Aging in Place Will Demand Bringing Activities into the Home

Marketing Opportunity; Brand Extension for Senior Care Companies

activities for seniors in the home
Getty Images

Aging in place is the buzzword when it comes to growing older. Everyone wants to live in their homw. And technology and services will allow people to do just that. But there is one crucial piece missing-socialization. Bringing activities into the home can help.

Arthur spent his life as a lawyer and then a judge and enjoyed gardening, history, music, and the arts throughout his life. He filled his days with these activities as well as spending time with his family and his wife of almost 50 years, Audrey.

As he grew older, Arthur was still able to enjoy his home, his family and friends, but he was not as physically spry as he one was and so some former pastimes fell by the wayside.  He was home and bored, that is until his daughter Jane Lonschein, a music and recreational therapist, decided to create the recreational opportunities assisted living and nursing home residents enjoy with an in-home flair.

“I devised a plan for him based on his interests and goals. We developed a gardening program for him, as well as a book club, history discussions and reminiscing,” Lonschein said. “For the gardening program, we have him watering plants, and planting flowers in pots. My dad loves music and the opera especially. I play him music on the piano in their home, classical music, which he loves, and he gets a lot of enjoyment from that.”

“I realized there was a wider need for this type of program for seniors living at home and started a new business, New York Senior RecTherapy Services, LLC.”

She was right. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging in 2011 (the most recent year reported) there were 41 million Americans over the age of 65 which is an increase of 6.3 million or 18 percent since 2000. One in eight, or about 3.3 percent the population is an older American.

Persons reaching age 65 have an average life expectancy of an additional 19.2 years.

Older women outnumber older men at 23.4 million older women to 17.9 million older men. Older men were much more likely to be married than older women, 72 percent of men vs. 45 percent of women. Of these numbers, 37 percent of older women were widows. About 28 percent or 11.8 million of noninstitutionalized older persons live alone. Almost half of older women, 46 percent age 75 an older live alone.

Studies suggest that socializing benefits seniors in a couple of ways, according to the website Seniorcare.com. The report says activities help to keep minds sharp, and reduce depression. Some researchers believe staying mentally and socially active may also assist in preventing dementia.

Music is known to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain which has positive effects on dementia. Sensory therapy including molding or handling clay, tossing birdseed filled bags, and exposure to aroma-therapy are all wonderful activities.

Art from creating with modeling clay to painting pictures, or sculpting with paper mache can stimulate the mind.

Research has shown these activities help improve oxygen flow to the brain and increase the connections made by the brain during creative tasks.

Indoor gardening offers both mental occupation and a sensory activity. Planting seeds in cups and watching the seeds sprout, then grow into plants is satisfying and can improve the gardener’s mood. New research shows there’s a natural antidepressant in soil that mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes people relaxed and happier. Studies were conducted on cancer patients and they reported a better quality of life and less stress. In addition, growing vegetables is satisfying by knowing you’ve grown them for snack or meals.

Lonschien has a degree from Molloy College, Rockville Center, NY where she dual majored in Gerontology and Music Therapy.  She is certified in senior fitness through Fitour and Americans senior fitness association and is currently studying for the AP-BC exam (Activity Professional Board Certified) by NAAP (National Association of Activity Professionals). She realized there was also a need to provide services to residents in assisted living communities and created New York Senior RecTherapy Services, LLC.

The company offers programs in many areas, from gardening, to scrap booking, reminiscing, music therapy, functional fitness, sing longs, and current events and coffee, she said

“It really it depends on the persons interests, and that is how I devise the programs,” Lonschein said. “Currently, I operate solo. But am looking into hiring therapists to expand, as I see this as a growing need in the community.

“Many seniors are now choosing to live at home or are in assisted living facilities. In assisted living and long term care communities, the business helps residents who would need a one on one approach so I develop an individual program for them as well,” Lonschien said

“It is a program for people who feel isolated, have had a stroke, Parkinson's disease, dementia, loss of independence due to mobility,” she said." I will typically visit a client 45 minutes, once a week.  In a contract with a nursing home, I visit 2 to 3 days a week.”

"I look forward to hearing Jane's music programs, I love music. She brightens my day,” said Eddie Berkowitz, a resident and client living at St. Joseph's medical center in Westchester, NY.

Further information available at: www.nyseniorrectherapyservices.com

Continue Reading