As our population ages, there is increasing emphasis on learning and teaching lifelong recreational skills. Research indicates that recreation is an important part of someone’s social behavior. Recreation plays a vital role in the lives of older adults by contributing to a better quality of life. Individuals who take part in recreational activities as mature citizens report considerably more life satisfaction than people who do not.
Physical recreation is particularly important. Engaging in physical activity reduces nearly every danger of disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes. Participation in recreational activities enhances mental health, also. Again, research shows that elderly individuals who engage in recreational activities have improved coping behaviors in reaction to stressful life events and daily frustrations. They know that social support is vital, and accessible, through those activities.
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Unfortunately, we’ve come to see our older years as a period of diminishing activity and social interaction. Because of these expectations, aging people often assume that they are incapable of recreational activity or it won’t be accessible to them. They frequently cite scarce financial resources, lack of transport or declining health as reasons for avoiding these vital activities. Though there is some validity to these concerns, we often overlook the increasing resources which are being dedicated to health among senior citizens. Some of those resources are:
- Traveling programs. Fees are often required, but deep discounts for seniors are usually offered.
- Volunteering. Seniors bring valuable expertise, wisdom and compassion to others
- Elderhostel. An international travel program bringing affordable adventure and learning to seniors
- Theme parks. Senior days! Special entry fees!
- Entertainment and arts. Museum and theater tours often provide transportation and discounts to seniors
- Neighborhood parks and recreation programs. Great outdoor activities
- Community Gardening. Check with your regional parks and recreation office
- Senior citizen centers. Free or reduced price meals and much more!
- Book clubs. Reading and socialization are a powerful therapeutic combination for the mind
It’s important for senior citizens and people who care for them to find recreational activities even now when they might be reluctant to do so. Research suggests that seniors who engage in such activities tend to stay active once they start.
Western civilizations sometimes see their aging populations as social and economic liabilities. In actuality, when they are nurtured, they become resources. Recreational activities can provide assistance and motivation that seniors need to allow them to contribute their valuable time and wisdom in return for this nurturance.