Where are the Seniors?
When looking around at the many different articles and blogs about escape rooms, I didn't see much (or anything at all) discussing their role for seniors. I want to start out by saying why this is important to me. For the past 20+ years I have worked as a physical therapist with the majority of my patients being seniors. Over the past 5 years I have worked in the homecare setting allowing me to work with people in their homes. These homes can range from a single family house to an apartment in an assisting living community.
The people I work with vary in physical capabilities. Some are in wheelchairs or motorized scooters. Others use walkers or canes or nothing at all. But they all have one thing in common. They all want to have the best quality of life possible. Even though most of the focus of my profession is on the physical aspect of improving quality of life, I have come to realize that there are many other aspects as well. A couple of these are socialization and the sense of independence and self purpose.
In addition to being a physical therapist, I also am an escape room owner (Escapeocity, located in Palatine, IL). Obviously there is a wide range of ages of people who participate in escape rooms, but in my experience not many of them are seniors. As I watched group after group of mostly young people (young meaning anyone under the age of 60) experience our rooms, I started to wonder why that is the case. When I asked the seniors that I work with about escape rooms, most of them had never heard of them or know what they are. This made it clear that I needed to spread the word.
Why Escape Rooms?
Why are escape rooms a perfect activity for seniors? The first of many reasons is that doing an escape room is fun! Being 65 or older does not mean you stop wanting to have fun. Escape rooms allow people to get lost in the moment and enjoy themselves. You get to leave reality behind for an hour and focus on the task at hand. Escape rooms encourage teamwork and socialization which can be particularly important to the senior population, many of which live and spend much of their time alone.
Another aspect of escape rooms that makes them great for older people is that they use brain power vs a lot of physical activity. See how escape rooms can have a positive effect on memory described in detail in this post: (How Escape Rooms Can Improve Your Memory. Even if you are confined to a wheelchair or use a walker, there are many ways to contribute in a significant way to the group to feel involved and important. In addition, just as with other parts of the body, the brain needs to get exercise to stay healthy. Escape rooms provide a lot of learning opportunities in a fun, creative environment, which you can read about in this post: (What Can Escape Rooms Teach You) .
The final reason I think escape rooms are a great activity for seniors is it gets them out of their homes and doing something different. A change of scenery can be very healthy. It is only 1 hour, so the time commitment is not extensive. The quality of that time however definitely can be great.
Where can I Find an Escape Room that's Right for Seniors?
When looking for an escape room that is appropriate, it is important to understand that not every escape room business is going to be senior-friendly. This is especially true for those who use a walker, scooter, or wheelchair. Obviously, it is important that the business premises themselves are wheelchair-accessible. But beyond that, you should look for an escape room that has been built with the older generation in mind.
At Escapeocity, we design our rooms with accessibility in mind. Specifically, we ensure there is enough space in each area of the rooms for wheelchairs to move around freely, ensure good lighting and large print clues for easy readability, and provide comfortable in-room seating for those who want to take a load off their feet. These are not difficult constraints to build into a room, but they do require thinking ahead and consideration during the design and implementation phases.
So if you find yourself searching for "senior activities in my area", consider an escape room! Considering a multigenerational family fun activity and want to bring grandma? Are you are 65 or older and want a fun outing with friends? Try something new (an escape room, of course) and be ready to have a great time!