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Great ideas for making it easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful to organize that special event or function you have in mind.
nursing home activities
09 Nov

How to Plan Nursing Home Events and Activity Ideas

Studies show that living life engaged with other individuals leads to more purpose and vitality. This rings especially true for the elderly population who have increasingly limited mobility.

Such studies support the idea that nursing homes should not just be a place where the elderly sleep and eat in the community. They also need to live in a community.

Creative nursing home activities will lead to a more satisfying, enjoyable life for nursing home residents. By the time you've finished reading this article, you will have a myriad of nursing home activity ideas that will engage the elderly in your community.


To live well in a community means celebrating the things that matter to the members of that community. Such care home events will bring a sense of closeness to a senior living facility and make the individuals feel like a family rather than individual members living out their final days.

Furthermore, parties don't have to cost a lot of money. You can plan a frugal party easily by following basic principles. For example, you can purchase decorations that you could easily re-use.

Birthday Parties

You can entertain seniors best by involving them in milestone parties like birthday parties. Invite residents to help decorate each other's rooms for their birthdays. Some residents will want to help bake or decorate a cake.

You could even set up a private party for the resident and their family. Ask your residents what they would like for birthday celebrations when doing your activity planning.

Ice Cream Socials

Plan a monthly ice cream social with residents. You'll only need a bucket of chocolate and a bucket of vanilla ice cream along with toppings like strawberry sauce, fudge, and whipped cream. Residents will enjoy making their sundaes at such nursing home events.

Tailgate Parties

Some residents are lifelong fans of local sports teams. Plan a tailgate party with the
residents having staff or volunteers park their cars together outside. Use an online app where volunteers can easily sign up to help with grilling hamburgers and hotdogs.

Decorate the area in the colors of the team that you're cheering for. Then take the residents inside to watch the game on TV.

Story Time Parties

Allow senior living facility residents to share stories from their own lives with the community. Invite local school classes to visit so residents can share their stories. When you do this, give residents time to curate and practice their storytelling.

Have residents practice by sharing stories with staff and with each other. Children and residents alike will benefit from these storytime events.

Music Events

Hold a sing-along party for residents by conducting a survey first to ask about their favorite songs. Then bring in a piano player or a small band that can lead a sing-along party for residents. You can also gather residents in the day room to watch popular musicals and DVDs.

Game Day

You can hold a game party by grouping residents according to their cognitive abilities. Then set up games ranging from Candyland to Poker. Bingo is an especially popular game among all ages.

Have appropriate prizes for residents like small treats.

Holiday Parties

Always hold holiday parties, especially for residents who may not have visitors that bring them away for the holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Independence Day celebrations especially can be a big hit.

If you can, hold a Halloween event where you have residents sit outside their room as kids come by and trick or treat. Lobby the local businesses to donate candy. Then have each resident hold a bucket of candy for the kids.

Residents will love seeing kids in their costumes, and the kids will enjoy the indoor Halloween event.

Physical Activities

Studies in elderly people have shown a strong relationship between physical activity and cognitive development. In short, when elderly people are physically active, their minds are sharper. Their minds decline less rapidly, and they enjoy a better quality of life for longer.

So take time to schedule physical exercises for your residents. Have a regular volleyball activity where you bounce a large beach ball back and forth in a circle or across a room.

Look into purchasing a Wii gaming system where residents can bowl, golf, or even play baseball. With a Wii, even residents in wheelchairs can participate.

Look into how you can engage residents in strength and resistance training as well. You don't need a set of weights, but rather just large elastic bands to help residents strengthen and tone their legs and arms. These activities make for great morning activities to help invigorate residents for the day.

Pet Therapy

Just about everyone can enjoy pet therapy. Look into local pet therapy programs and ask about having a trained volunteer bring a certified therapy pet into your facility. Residents can interact with the pet and even hold it.

Something as simple as a guinea pig can even be therapeutic for animal lovers. Pets also have a way of drawing reserved residents out of their shells.


Residents may enjoy growing small plants and herbs in a window box. Have your residents plant flowers in pots and then water them daily. Such activity will get residents outside and give them some great plant therapy.

You can even supplement the grocery budget for the nursing home kitchen with gardening activities. Have your volunteers set up container gardens for residents where they can grow tomatoes, green beans, and a variety of other vegetables.


Something is satisfying about having a product to show for your time. Crafting for nursing home residents can do just this. It will give them something to do with their hands, mind, and time.

Look for crafts that don't require sharp eyes or nimble fingers. Some residents may still be able to complete simple hand-sewing projects or quilting projects. Look into some rug hooking activities as well.

Get a painting set for your residents. You can put a large canvas on the activity center wall where residents can contribute to a nursing home mural. You could also set up a finger painting station where residents with diminished cognitive skills will find great satisfaction.

Enrich Lives With Nursing Home Activity Ideas

These nursing home activity ideas will enrich the lives of nursing home residents and the life of your staff. They will make the nursing home a richer environment and create a family from the growing community of residents.

Do you need help planning an event for your nursing home? If so check out how our services can help. Sign up for free.