Parents are advised to take their children to the playground regularly to improve the kids’ motor skills and coordination. They also need fresh air, sunshine, and interaction with their peers, necessary for building socialization and communication skills.
However, the idea of playgrounds shouldn’t be limited to kids only. Tender children and elderly adults have more in common than any other age groups. They require interpersonal relationships and peer groups more, and they need mild and informal physical activity to either develop their bodies or improve/maintain fitness.
Senior parks can’t be expected to feature, swings, crawl tunnels, and adrenaline-inducing structures. These parks feature low-impact equipment targeted at improving muscle strength, motor coordination, balance and flexibility.
These parks do not merely serve the purpose of improving the physical wellbeing of the elderly. Getting out once in a while to meet people, have tea in the park, share memories, and socialize is equally important for senior citizens. Loneliness and isolation is a common problem amongst the elderly population.
“While there are certainly physical health aspects to the playground, it is also there to nurture social and mental health,”
Playgrounds for seniors are gradually becoming a common sight around the globe, having spread throughout Asia and Europe in the past couple of decades. In 1995, China blazed the trail when they set up a park to serve as a recreational area for seniors
Japan immediately took up the idea, followed by several European countries. According to Pri.org, the concept was a huge hit in Spain, where Barcelona alone has about 300 senior parks. The Spanish government is investing a lot to fund these parks because they believe in them.
Analysts estimate that about 40 to 45 per cent of the Spanish population will be 65 by 2050. Keeping this age group mentally alert and physically fit is a top priority to the government.
Play is a great connector for adults and seniors and the children in their lives. In addition to the cognitive and physical benefits of play, it can also reduce stress in adults and is proven to help combat toxic stress in kids,” said Sarah Pinksy,
“These environments can be highly social,” Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging said to The Wall Street Journal. “There’s something positive and invigorating about that, especially if the children have moved away or a spouse has passed on.”