Is it the time of evening when television is most watched? Would you consider it the best time of your life? Or could it be the best time to be active if there was an opportunity to be active?

A common question heard when touring a new community is “what activities are offered?” Bingo? Plenty of surprises are in store for those who still adhere to the Retirement Community visions of old. One activity does not make a full day of feeling in your “prime.”

Activities are designed to keep residents busy and engaged with others, to increase mental and physical strength and to offer social opportunities for each individual resident. Studies show social contacts improve not only mental but also physical ability at every stage of life especially as people age in place. Friends move, die or are unable to make contact with their peers. Families report their loved ones are no longer out-going and tend to recluse themselves. Social inactivity is not a normal process of aging. Fewer opportunities exist to be active when isolated. Society needs to recognize the cause not the symptoms.

Retirement Living Communities have a full range of activities on their calendars. Activity directors receive special training focusing on the older population. Residents are welcome to select activities interesting their personalities and to participate at their own pace. Staff encourages residents to be a part of the action and are experts in offering selections to residents. Subtle approaches soon have residents who were once introverted moving towards the camaraderie.

Independent communities host a variety of group activities such as cards, competition in Wii bowling, dancing, fitness centers, book clubs, sporting events and community productions. It’s not unusual to see fishing trips and golf tournaments listed on the calendars. Weekly shopping and “joy” rides are common. Fishing, trips to a casino or ball park even a jaunt to an out of town flower show are on the calendar. Family is invited to attend many of the functions and enjoy the ice cream socials and outdoor barbecues. Truly not an activity list for the faint of heart!

Assisted Living Communities propose many of the same activities but emphasize strengthening muscles and stimulating brain activity. Trivia, Bingo, every card game imaginable, stretch and tone are only a few of the offerings. Add a weekly social hour, an ice cream social, an indoor walking marathon and it is no surprise the majority of residents are found out of their rooms.

Memory Care Assisted Living activities traditionally focus on brain activities. Each individual needing memory care is unique and has their own set of memories waiting to be shared. Staff in Memory Care is required to receive additional training to address each individual where they are in their journey. Typical activities involve scrap booking, crafts, listening to the paper being read aloud, discussing new events and the weather forecast (always a lively discussion).. One conversation leads to another and laughter fills the air. Music is one of the last memories lost and an important part of activities. Sing a song and choose a dance partner. Life is enjoyed.

Skilled care presents small group activities and one-on-one participation exercises. Outside groups often visit to entertain not only at Skilled Care but also at Independent and Assisted Communities.

The advantage of the many activities in a Retirement Community is the ability to be with peers and share like interests as well as learn new ones with others who are first timers. It is valuable to laugh with others while being comfortable laughing at yourself. Most importantly it is a gift to age with others gracefully and to welcome each day as an opportunity.

Prime Time is what each of us makes it…no matter the time!