Even though they are not clinicians, activity directors can play a key role in increasing the health of seniors.

Seniors can improve their working memory and decision-making skills by boosting their moods, according to a recent study by Ellen Peters. Peters, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University, found “happiness can benefit a senior’s thinking skills, perhaps improving his or her ability to make decisions.” The study may offer ways for communities to overcome some of the cognitive decline that has long been considered an unavoidable side effect of aging.

The Ohio State University research is one of the first studies to offer evidence that keeping seniors active and engaged in their community improves their cognitive health. Activities directors can play a vital role in the health of seniors.

But even the best activity director is only as successful as the residents who show up to participate. Every administrator is facing with the challenge of participation.

One solution, used by eldercare providers including Five Star Senior Living and Kindred Healthcare, is to embrace automated telephone calls to remind and encourage residents to attend activities. This can replace a staff member going door-to-door to coax a resident out, and instead let them focus on other tasks. These solutions have increased attendance at activities by up to 40% without increasing staffing expenses.

Keeping seniors engaged in community activities is one way to ensure seniors are happy and health.

Bruce Baron is CEO of VoiceFriend. He can be reached at bruce.baron@voicefriend.net. VoiceFriend is the leader in providing messaging services for eldercare communities.