Seniors have a lot more time on their hands than when they were working or had children at home. Boredom can become a problem with so much time and not enough fun things to do around the house. Entertainment is a need, yet too much television isn’t a good thing, and there are only so many puzzles a person can work on!
Here are a few entertainment ideas within the home that will contribute to enjoying a high quality of life and the overall well-being that comes with aging in place.
The Appeal of Technology within the Home
For today’s generation, technology is synonymous with entertainment. That isn’t necessarily so for the Baby Boomer generation that makes up the majority of the elderly population choosing to age in place. That doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from it, though, and many seniors enjoy learning about something new to keep the mind sharp and engaged. Aside from television, entertainment support systems have been gaining the attention of scientists, who are taking into consideration the perspectives of seniors and their caregivers.
Entertainment Support that Understands
International researchers with the National Institute of Health began looking into entertainment devices that created a system through which seniors could interact with others and technology in a simple manner. They looked at all of the developing technology trends for entertainment systems and came up with a proposed solution known as a context-aware elderly entertainment support system. That is basically a device that allows an elderly person or their caregiver to access a wide range of entertainment options from listening to music, playing games and accessing the television based on information received from sensors. It would be easy to use and focus on providing the desired service in a simple manner without having to use it like a computer, something many seniors are intimidated by.
Robotics is becoming high on the attention list with some gerontologists experimenting with the idea of robot pets; there are many options already on the market today. Live animals are great therapeutic companions but may be too much responsibility for an elderly person with severe mobility restrictions and cognitive challenges such as dementia. With so much responsibility for the pet falling to available caregivers, live pets are just not practical for some people. This led researchers and technology experts to develop a robotic animal known as AIBO, who not only provides entertainment with an interactive programming feature that can read emails; it was developed to aid in the treatment of severe dementia. Since then many more robot animals have been developed and are in various stages of production.
Many of the patients who participated in the AIBO testing program were living in assisted living communities due to the need for constant monitoring, but a study conducted by Purdue University looked at AIBO use in the home. All of the findings were positive, and AIBO was found to enhance the quality of life. Researchers then began looking into ways to incorporate fun digital games and even vital signs monitoring in future models of the metal miniature dogs. Now there are dozens of robotic companions being designed with just about any safety and entertainment qualities a person can imagine.
A big part of entertainment for human beings is interacting with others. According to an aging in place study conducted by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), many seniors planning to age in place want a home suitable for entertaining guests. Whether it is family coming over for a holiday meal or a social gathering such as a book club or Bible study, the living room is an important room. According to ASID, these are the best things to keep in mind when it comes to the living room:
- Keep the room free from clutter to reduce the risk of tripping and falling.
- Reduce the amount of furniture to make it easier to maneuver in the room.
- Add color contrasts to help improve visual acuity and depth perception.
- Make sure there is good traffic flow to and from other rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom.
- Ensure lighting is good with no shadow spots by opening window blinds or adding lamps to corners.
- Remove area rugs as they are the number one cause of trips and falls in the home.
- Avoid furniture on wheels that could “get away” from a person leaning on it.
Entertainment is all about the enjoyment of something, whether it’s reading or listening to a book, watching a favorite television show, or having friends over. Having a home that allows seniors to have fun and enjoy whatever form of entertainment their lifestyle supports is one of the greatest appeals of aging in place within the comfort of home. When seniors age in place at home, it is up to them to plan and carry out their own entertainment safely. Having options for independent entertainment and the ability to entertain others gives seniors greater levels of freedom and a higher quality of life.
American Society of Interior Designers. Aging in Place: Aging and the Impact of Interior Design. Available at https://www.asid.org/sites/default/files/aging_in_place1.pdf. Last Visited May 2, 2016.
Hossain, M. A., Alumni, A., Almgren, A. S., Hossain, SK. A., Parra, J. (June 2014). A Framework for a Context-Aware Elderly Entertainment Support System. PMC, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, National Center for Biotechnology Information. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4118410/#b20-sensors-14-10538. Last Visited May 2, 2016.
Tamura, T., Yonemitsu, S., Itoh, A., Oikawa, D., Kawakami, A., Higashi, Y., Fujimooto, T., Nakajima, K. (January 2004). Is an Entertainment Robot Useful in the Care of Elderly People with Severe Dementia? The Journals of Gerontology, Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 59(1): 83-85. Available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14718491. Last Visited May 2, 2016.