Activities for Geriatrics at Psychiatric Hospitals

Older patients who have been admitted to a psychiatric hospital will often experience a worsening of their mental health symptoms due to the changes in environment. Activities for geriatrics at psychiatric hospitals are used to prevent boredom, increase social skills and reduce anxiety or depression often seen in geriatric patients. Recreational activities often include pet therapy, art therapy, music therapy and activity groups that will prepare the patient with coping skills that can be helpful following hospital discharge.

  1. Animal Therapy

    • Animal therapy is used in geriatric psychiatric settings as a means of reducing stress and anxiety. Animals such as dogs or fish are brought to the unit for the purpose of interacting with the patients. Studies have shown that petting a dog or watching an aquarium filled with fish will lower the blood pressure, which is important for geriatric patients suffering with physical as well as mental health problems. Many geriatric psychiatric patients are admitted due to symptoms of Alzheimer’s including extreme anxiety and a decrease in motor skills. The use of pet therapy has been shown to reduce the anxiety levels and improve motor skills.

    Art Therapy

    • The use of art therapy in a geriatric psychiatric unit is important for patients to express themselves in a creative way, while also benefiting those who are experiencing dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. Many of the art therapy sessions in a geriatric unit include activities such as scrapbooking, reminiscence therapy or building a colorful art-related autobiography of their life experiences. This type of therapy is beneficial for improving the cognitive and social deficiencies in geriatric patients.

    Music Therapy

    • Activities involving music in a geriatric unit will promote exercise through dance, benefit mobility and assist with social developments. The patient is encouraged to sing along to songs of their era, which help to increase cognitive awareness especially in dementia patients.

    Therapy Groups

    • There are several different groups available for geriatric patients to attend including effective coping and social skills. The effective coping group is beneficial in teaching geriatric patients various exercise for coping with their mental illness, such as depression, a popular diagnosis among the elderly. An effective coping group would teach patients to utilize skills such as verbalizing their reasons for depression. Social skills groups teach geriatric patients how to interact with others and where there are activities for them after discharge. Overdosing by geriatric patients is a common occurrence, often because they do not have the skills to organize their medication routine. Medication groups may teach elderly patients how to correctly use a medication box.

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  • Photo Credit hospital image by JASON WINTER from

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