Recreational Therapy for Seniors at its Best

Recreational Therapy (NIA)

Benefits of Recreation Therapy

Wards off Aging and Helps to Preserve Cognitive Function

When you are looking for a short or long-term skilled nursing care and rehabilitation solution for yourself or your loved one, be sure to also check out what recreational activities are available. Recreational therapy offers a lot of benefits. Studies have shown that keeping the mind and body active help to ward off aging and help to preserve cognitive function.

 Socialization Combats Depression and Helps to Manage Pain

Recreation therapy provides a chance to socialize, make new friends and combats loneliness. In fact, many seniors lived a more shut-in boring lifestyle until they came to live in a residential facility because their health problems and limited mobility kept them from going out and enjoying life. Now they have a chance to come out of their shells and even learn new skills. This kind of dynamic socialization has been shown to combat feelings of depression and to help prevent cognitive decline. The activities promote a good feeling and are very relaxing. In fact, many seniors claim that they have less pain and little time to dwell on their aches, pains and troubles.

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY Offers Unique Recreational Activities

Spa Day

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, NY not only offers more recreational activities than most other rehabs, but many of these are unique. For instance, there is a spa day that offers a chance to sit in a special massage chair near a beautiful fountain, while listening to relaxing spa music and sipping cucumber water! This can be followed with a manicure.

Never a Dull Moment

Under the skilled planning by Mary O’Neill, the Director of Recreational Therapy, there is never a dull moment at Van Duyn. For example, Van Duyn has on the average 22 programs a day, Monday to Friday. Considering there are only 24 hours in a day this is quite a feat. Weekends are also jam-packed with 11 programs of fun. When it is holiday time, like on the 4th of July there are 13 programs of exciting activities.

Hawaiian Luau July 26-27, 2018

Making Hawaiian Leis

A very spectacular two-day event at Van Duyn was a Hawaiian Luau that took place July 26-27, 2018. For two days Van Duyn went  Hawaiian with all the floors decorated up with  Hawaiian motifs. Residents and staff were encouraged to dress Hawaiian and were given leis (garlands of flowers) to wear around their necks and a Hawaiian lunch was served. Recreational programs  all had a Hawaiian theme and Thursday evening saw a Tiki torch campfire on the West Patio. The festivities wound up on Friday during the Happy Hour with hula dancing and pina coladas.

Music and Sing-Alongs

Several times a week at Van Duyn there is music, live entertainment and sing-alongs, including summer campfires with sing-alongs and s’mores (roasted marshmallows).

Music has been shown to be very beneficial for good physical and mental health. Listening to music has been scientifically proven to promote healing, help cognitive function and to help regain the ability to speak and to  improve motor function. According to the late famed neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks, in testimony to the US Senate, Special committee on Aging, Forever Young: Music and Aging, August 1, 1991, he witnessed cases of post stroke people with paralyzed limbs that began to tap their paralyzed foot or hand in time to music. Also, he reported that he saw people with Parkinson’s disease, who were able to get up and dance to music, even though they could not walk, as well as  others who could not talk, but were able to sing. Neuroscientists thus discovered that music covers a much wider part of the brain than the part of the brain related to speech or walking. Music is also wonderful reminiscent therapy for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Clubs and Outings

Van Duyn organizes outings  for those who are able to go out and offers activity clubs like the Men’s Club, a ceramics club with a kiln to fire the creative things the residents make, an Outdoorsman Club, a club for residents under age 40, a club for residents over age 40, and a seasonal gardening club. For more about gardening therapy and the gardening club please see our blog post from March 7, 2018.

Pet Therapy and Visits

Van Duyn also Offers Pet Therapy and Pet Visits. Pet Therapy is also very beneficial and has been shown to help lower blood pressure and stress, combat loneliness and depression, improve socialization and is an enjoyable way to get more physical exercise. For more about pets and pet visits see our blog post from April 24, 2018. 

Amenities, Dining and Cuisine

For more about recreational activities, amenities, units, dining and cuisine at Van Duyn, please see our blog post from May 30, 2018.


Since recreational therapy has so many health benefits it pays to look for a place for yourself or a loved one that has a lot of recreational activity.



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