Older adults face many transitions that can significantly alter their sense of self and wellbeing. Whether changes result from retirement, a move into a new home, or the loss of a spouse, maintaining leisure activities that engage older adults socially can help ease the process as seniors develop new roles, and routines, and adapt to physical changes or personal loss.
According to a recent Western Health Sciences News report, researchers from Western University studied the connection between leisure, identity, and a sense of home among older adults moving to a new place. By remaining active in hobbies like gardening, woodworking, practicing Tai Chi, or joining a book club in a new community, seniors are to make social ties in their current environment. A sense of belonging is important for seniors to thrive in a new home and community.
As we all learned firsthand during the pandemic, social isolation can take a huge toll on not only our mental health but also our physical well-being and sense of identity. When helping an older adult make the transition to a new living community, it is important to consider the leisure activities that will be available to help seniors stay active and socially engaged.
Participating in leisure activities has also been found to help older adults preserve good mental health and promote informal learning that supports cognitive well-being. According to recent research, seniors who engage in leisure and recreation activities have better mental health, self-esteem, perceived quality of life, and longevity.
Caregivers can help to transition seniors by researching what social groups and recreational programs are available in a new community, how to join in these activities, and seeking out transportation options if needed. Ensuring that older adults have the ability to maintain established routines and social ties can help seniors thrive in their new environment. Transitions to a new home can also be made easier by frequent visits from family, help with packing, addressing any concerns, and listening to the feelings and wishes of seniors.