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Why Play Is Important


When most people hear the word “play,” they likely picture children playing together, laughing, and enjoying themselves.  At some point, kids outgrow these non-productive activities and move on to the more serious aspects of life. Right? Not so fast! It turns out that play is beneficial for people of all ages: from games of tag on the playground to bingo in a nursing home, games offer mental stimulation, social engagement, stress relief, and fun. 

At Poopsie’s, we believe PLAY for enjoyment & fulfillment should extend throughout a person’s life – and that senior living is the perfect opportunity to do just that. There are many physical and mental health benefits of play for seniors.

By incorporating play into your active lifestyle, you can rediscover the joys of childhood – and have a lot of fun along the way.

What Are the Benefits of Play?

There are many different benefits of playing – and the best part is that the positive impact can be experienced right away. In addition, research has shown that play in older adults can lead to numerous mental and physical health improvements, including:

  • Stress relief: One of the most significant benefits of play is its ability to relieve stress. When you are doing something enjoyable, your body releases endorphins, which elevate mood and reduce stress.
  • Improves brain function: Whether you are playing ball outside or finishing a puzzle in the comfort of your living room, play has a positive impact on cognitive function. By playing, you improve your reaction speed, critical thinking, and your communication skills if you are playing with others. These all are important to keep the mind sharp.
  • Improves relationships: Social isolation and depression are growing issues among older adults, but play can dramatically reduce your risk. When you engage in play with others, you share enjoyable moments together. This not only benefits you personally, but it creates lasting bonds with your family members, friends, and neighbors.
  • Opens the world of possibility: You can experience the world outside of yourself when you play. Playing with others helps you develop greater compassion and empathy, which has positive benefits on your mental health as well as your relationships with others.

Along with these clear benefits, there is one more…. Play is FUN!  Plain and simple, it’s important for everyone to have fun in their life.  Move, laugh, enjoy and these benefits will be come automatically.  

Types of Play

Now that you have seen the many benefits of play, you might be asking, “That’s great, but what exactly is play?”

It is simple: Play is any activity done strictly for recreation and enjoyment, as opposed to work, which is serious and has a defined practical purpose.

Or, as Mark Twain wrote: “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do … play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.”

Here are some of the most common types of play older adults enjoy:

  • Games: Board games & brain games are always great for memory & brain function. And there are many social benefits with you play with others.  Outdoor games including pickleball, cornhole & golf keep you active and can improve motor and visual skills and provide cardiovascular benefits.  
  • Puzzles: This classic activity is a great way to spend time in tranquil solitude or with a friend. Puzzles are also great for cognitive function and health.  This can be jigsaw puzzles, 3D puzzles or word & number puzzles.
  • Art & Music: Few activities are more enjoyable than creating something beautiful to share with others.  Paint, draw, sculpt, create.
  • Dance: If you want to experience physical, mental, and emotional benefits, turn on the music and dance! It is one of the best activities for cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and social engagement.
  • Imaginative Play: When was the last time you dressed up and played make-believe? This activity is especially fun for intergenerational play with your children and grandchildren. Both sides benefit immensely when older adults and young children can play together.

The benefits of play are many and important, so we encourage you to find opportunities to incorporate more play into your daily routine. Remember, you are never to old to PLAY!

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