How Horse Racing Has Been Used for Elderly Care Around the World

Each year, there are many challenges that carers have to face when looking after our older adults, with no more prevalent than the developments of the last couple of years.

Along with continued challenges, we are seeing the average age of our population continually rising. According to a report from the House of Commons, it’s something that is predicted to continue in a similar vein. It’s stated that by 2043, people aged 65 and over will make up around 24% of the nation’s population, that’s a rise from the current levels of 19%.

While the population grows older and providing care for people’s loved ones is getting increasingly difficult. Another issue that will continue to be prevalent is the challenge of keeping those people amused and entertained in a way that people of different ages can genuinely appreciate.

One of the ways of doing so that many appreciate and value is reminiscing, drawing on memories, giving them a chance to relive things they recall with such fondness. One such way is through sport, and it’s being used to significant effect, as people find meaningful ways to connect with their past, as a report from the BBC shows. A scheme based around football has provided an alternative focus and a natural boost of positivity.

But it’s not only football that has been used to help raise the spirits of our elderly; horse racing is another sport that has proved to be very successful too in similar ways. However, there are many more ways of reigniting those happy memories beyond the use of vintage video. We take a look at some of those below.

Horse racing game

One way of keeping the mind and body active in an appropriate manner accessible to many is by playing a horse racing game. First of all, create a horseshoe shape on the floor or table in tape, with 22 sections within it; one end will represent the start, the other the finish.

Also, place three prizes at the finish line so that the players can see their potential reward. Before the racing gets underway, offer four or more players a little horse model as their play piece, and ask them to name their horse before placing them on the starting line. For those not playing, maybe ask the spectators to see who they think will win?

The active players then roll dice to determine who gets off the line first, and then the race gets underway. Each player in order takes one roll, moving their horse forward by the amount shown on the dice before passing it on, and the winner is the first to reach the finish line and claim their prize.

Recalling and reliving the sporting experience

Before the advent of the internet, around the country, on a Saturday afternoon, local news outlets often produced sports papers with the latest scores and results printed on to keep fans up to speed. But memories can extend beyond the words on the page. The tactile feel of the newspaper, the smell of the ink, and the colour of the pages are just some things that may trigger happy memories. These are the pages where some of the most historic events have taken place, and these can also bring back happy memories.

The Grand National is a great example of an event that can be used to create special moments in elderly care. Throughout history, the race has been renowned for being a national event, and many older adults will have fond memories of workplace sweepstakes and gathering around their television. The 2022 race, for which Galvin is the current betting frontrunner in the latest Ladbrokes odds, is a great time to have a special afternoon. A sweepstake could be organised with special prizes, meaning whoever did pull Galvin (should it win) might get a special treat.

With the television and a few horse racing themed games, it makes a fun afternoon at any care home. It’s a perfect escape from every day; over these last couple of years, it’s been tough for anyone to get out and enjoy any of our favourite pastimes or watch sporting events. So, to bring some of those to people who may not have had the opportunity to enjoy them for even longer could prove to be the perfect way to raise spirits, and thus their quality of life.

A visit from a racehorse

Many charities and volunteers are bringing extra joy to the elderly in care homes around the country by popping in for tea with some of their four-legged friends introducing animal therapy. Animals can boost health and well-being as the calming influence that an animal can bring is known to reduce blood pressure, increase levels of oxytocin, and raise mood. Not only that, they can encourage positive social behaviour and decrease agitation.

Also, animals may stimulate memories of previous events the older people may have visited or remind them of their animals. The joy of seeing an older person who has previously struggled to find the energy to express themselves so happy around an animal is one of the best things to witness.

Not only this, with an animal such as a racehorse, it could boost activity levels introducing levels of exercise by encouraging those who are capable of doing so by going outside.

If you found this interesting and maybe want to change your career and want to know more about how you can organise opportunities like this, then take a look at our article on ‘A Day in the Life of an Activity-Coordinator’.