Playgrounds are no longer just for kids. There are more and more popping up for senior citizens. Not only do they help keep them fit, but also gives them a chance to socialize.
As you may know, many seniors and elderly people grow lonelier with age, as they start losing friends to health ailments and don’t always live close to family members. So, I think these playing grounds are an excellent idea.
I visit my grandmother at her nursing home a lot, and many of the patients are confined to their wheelchairs or beds and can barely move. A physical therapist friend once told me that movement is key. If they keep their bodies active, it’ll help keep their minds active, too.
Public Radio International (PRI) posted this video about adult playgrounds that were built in Spain. It’s pretty cool to hear how this is helping the elderly who use them.
“It is very social,” said Paz Vidal, a physical therapist. “[We] want to break the myth of the old person coming to the park and just sitting while grandkids play. And then going home. Kids can also have fun here. The parks help create family cohesion. And it’s intergenerational.”
I agree. Just because these playgrounds are built for older people doesn’t mean that the entire family cannot use them.
Franschesca, 84, one of the women in the video, enjoys going to the playground. “Staying home is very boring,” she said. “You never think of the good things. ‘Oh, I’m not good for anything.’ Or, ‘They never come to visit.’ If you stay home, you might not feel any pain, but after a couple of days you can barely move. But if you get out, you feel better.”
People also make new friends on the playground. “…At least they get together for dinner. They start to create links,” said Vidal.
What about bringing these playgrounds to the U.S., too? Well, 50 have been built so far, as a result of the nonprofit, KaBOOM!, partnering with Humana to create multi-generational playgrounds. (Don’t you love that? Fun for all ages!)
“These playgrounds allow us to promote healthy living in cities across the country,” said Bruce Broussard, President and CEO at Humana. “It’s important to us to make it easy for people to achieve their best health—kids and adults alike.” The playgrounds-for-all- ages include kid-friendly equipment as well as exercise stations geared for adults. And, they’re built in just six hours (!!) by Humana and community volunteers.
“The playground in my neighborhood has really improved the quality of life for many people who live at Gateway Park,” said Marcus French, a Gateway Park resident in Portland, Ore. A Humana/KaBOOM! playground was built there in 2012. “Now, everyone living at Gateway Park has a great place to gather together.”
You can see what cities these playgrounds are here.