Programming for Older Adults: An Innovative Technique

By Foret, Claire M.; Carter, Marcia J. et al. | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, October 1993 | Go to article overview

Programming for Older Adults: An Innovative Technique


Foret, Claire M., Carter, Marcia J., Benedik, Jacqueline R., JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


An Innovative Technique

As people age, events throughout their lives influence their values, norms, attitudes, and leisure behaviors. Leisure behaviors are developed through formal opportunities such as those that occur in the elementary classroom when children learn about plants and animal in their natural environments. Leisure knowledge and behaviors are also acquired through informal experiences such as school-sponsored athletics and clubs or inter actions with others on school playgrounds or in summer day camps. The acquisition of leisure knowledge and behaviors continues throughout life. As formal educational experiences become less central to life preparation, informal experiences and relationships formed through family, work, church, and service organizations facilitate opportunities resulting in leisure behavior.

While investigators (DeCarlo, 1974; Foret, 1985; Gorman, 1982; Peppers, 1976; Purcell & Keller, 1989; Riddick & Daniel, 1984) suggest that leisure activity is a strong indicator of life satisfaction among older adults, they also report that meaningful leisure pursuits in formal institutions such as senior centers and residential facilities are not as available to older adults as to other age groups (Eliopoulos, 1986; Thorton & Collins, 1986; Walz & Blum, 1988). So, while informal relationships and opportunities become more significant to sustain leisure behavior with adults, older adults have less access to leisure through service providers such as public leisure service departments. Further, older adults experience traditional barriers to meaningful leisure pursuits not experienced by other age groups. These constraints include transportation, financial resources, social contacts, and for persons over age 75, physical health concerns (Eliopoulos, 1986; Walz & Blum, 1988).

This article presents an enhanced remotivation technique in a holistic approach using the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains, and introduces the concept of including three constituent groups - cohorts, caregivers, and children - into programming leisure for older adults. By using each group to expand a programming technique - remotivation - older adults are exposed to experiences representative of the entire life course. In addition, concepts introduced during the school years such as diverse populations, lifelong well-being, and fitness are applied through intergenerational interactions. Furthermore, avenues to compensate for leisure constraints of older adults are provided.

The A-CENS Technique

Remotivation is used to enhance participants' functioning ability by encouraging them to refocus on former interests and relate more meaningfully to their surroundings. The original remotivation technique was used with persons with mental retardation and mental illness and older persons who had become disoriented, confused, and who had experienced memory loss (Clarke, 1967; Stracke, 1970). A five-phase approach, with each phase sequenced and occurring for a definitive amount of time, reintroduces participants to a topic related to their family, work, social experiences, or the world in which they live (figure 1). A facilitator monitors and guides each phase of the interaction among group members.

In the enhanced remotivation technique, each phase has been renamed to better reflect the intent of the interactions (figure 2). In the original remotivation technique the cognitive (intellectual) domain was the focus of participant interaction. The enhanced technique, called A-CENS (pronounced "a sense"), not only emphasizes the cognitive domain, but also includes the use of the psychomotor (physical) and affective (social/emotional) domains. This enhanced technique encourages a holistic response during interaction. Experiences are designed to include either all three domains in a session or to incorporate each domain separately in a session. In the first phase, Activate, the facilitator sets the atmosphere of the interaction.

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