Let’s face it; Grandma just wants to have fun. The benefits of exercise and “play” for seniors are well known. Playful activities reduce the effects of dementia, stimulate mind and body, prevent illness and health decline, and improve overall quality of life.
Senior playgrounds have become increasingly popular in Europe and Asia as places for socializing, exercise and fun. In addition to walking paths and other landscape features, many of these parks feature adult-size equipment similar to those found in children’s playgrounds. However, these are no tot-lots! Picture a traditional gym—only outdoors—with fitness stations and equipment such as cross trainers that improve strength, flexibility and balance. These public parks help seniors stay fit and socialize in a non-intimidating environment.
In the US, many senior living providers include outdoor gardens and wellness centers in their private communities, but public playgrounds for seniors are a newer trend. As boomers age and naturally occurring retirement communities (NORC’s) develop, more seniors are seeking ways to age in place. Senior parks provide a much-needed opportunity for wellness right in a community’s backyard.
Intergenerational opportunities also abound when senior playgrounds are adjacent to, or within children's parks, allowing parents and grandparents to share meaningful play with children. This growing trend will likely continue as more US cities look to provide senior and multigenerational playgrounds in our communities. After all, age is nothing but a number when it comes to having fun.