Bruce Baron

Eldercare providers in the U.S. and Canada are collectively spending millions of dollars developing programming and activities for seniors. Is this money well spent?  Can programming have a significant effect on the health and wellness of seniors? A study from Ohio State University says yes they can!

Led by Ellen Peters, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State University, researchers looked at 46 adults between ages 63 and 85. They found seniors can improve their working memory and decision making skills by boosting their moods. Peters noted, “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 in seniors that until now has been considered an unavoidable side effect of aging.

For providers, one of the easiest ways to improve the mood of a senior is to ensure they are active and engaged in their community.  The Ohio State University research is ground-breaking and could be one of the first studies to offer evidence that getting seniors to attend programming improves their cognitive health.   

Here’s the challenge for eldercare providers: Programming directors can schedule compelling activities and events, but how do you ensure that all residents and patients participate? 

Thankfully, there are solutions. Many communities across the spectrum of eldercare providers including Five Star Senior Living, Benchmark Senior Living, Hebrew Senior Life and others have successfully used technology such as automated telephone calls to remind and encourage residents and patients to attend activities. By using this system, attendance at activities and events rose up to 40% without increasing staffing expenses.

Keeping seniors engaged in community activities is one way to ensure seniors are happy. And as The Ohio State study revealed, a happy senior will be cognitively healthier.

Bruce Baron is CEO of VoiceFriend.  He can be reached at [email protected]