Imagine a beautiful place carefully designed for elders to exercise, socialize, and play: a wellness playground for elders.
Play By Design has helped hundreds of grass-roots community groups in the U.S. and oversees create outstanding children’s playgrounds.
In 2010, our team also began designing innovative playgrounds to meet the needs of elders for attractive and effective places to exercise, socialize, and play.
Our elders’ playgrounds are appealing, accessible and safe spaces where older adults will enjoy spending time and which encourage physical & mental exercise, social interaction and playfulness.
The health benefits of exercise for elders are many and well known. An abundance of studies confirm that regular exercise helps to:
– Prevent falls and fractures
– Reduce the risk of strokes, heart disease, and some cancers
– Lessen cognitive decline
– Control obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure
The World Health Organization recommends adults 65 and older should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate-and vigorous-intensity activity.
Our designs target the therapeutic exercises most important for the ability of elders to stay actively engaged daily:
– Extending range of motion
– Improving balance
– Building muscle strength
– Promoting cardiovascular health
– Enhancing fine motor coordination
Social activity promotes wellness, confidence and joy. It wards off social isolation, which can lead to loneliness and depression.
A 2007 Cornell University study, Social Isolation: Strategies for Connecting and Engaging Older People notes that about 30 percent of elders over 65 in America live alone, adding that “Baby Boomers are projected to experience greater social isolation given their lower rates of marriage, high levels of divorce, and fewer children.” (Cornell Institute for Translational Research on Aging, March 2007)
Our playgrounds for elders deliberately encourage social interaction and engagement.
– Safe, attractive and peaceful gardens, with shelters, conversational seating nooks, and wide walking paths
– Activity equipment designed for face-to-face usage
– Games like chess, cards, bocce and ping-pong
– Spaces for yoga or tai chi
– Acoustic performance spaces for both observing and performing
The myriad benefits of physical exercise and social interaction are multiplied and deepened by providing such opportunities in a playful, lighthearted setting.
Playing relieves stress and improves mood.
By designing the whole experience to be enjoyable and playful, elders will visit, participate, and return, often inviting friends and family.