In most retirement communities, assisted living and personal care facilities and nursing homes women residents outnumber the men. It’s a fact of life for most activity directors, but planning for men’s activities is also a must. In this article we look at some ideas for successful men’s programming.
These men spent their youth as the family breadwinner. They may have been caught in a war draft, perhaps were the first in their family to go to college and struggled to understand their children’s ‘hippie’ views.
Their lives centered on family, work and when time permitted, hobbies and clubs. In looking into activities for men begin by asking about their former hobbies and work.
Did they enjoy sports, dancing, music, cards? Find ways to incorporate these interests into ongoing programs from bringing an antique car show to your facility to creating an on-site VFW style hang out where the men can talk guy stuff.
In addition, ask if they were Rotary or Lions Club members and/or if they served as deacons at church or coaches for local youth sports teams.
Men’s groups can travel to see professional games but they can also travel locally to watch Little League games and enjoy an intergenerational afternoon. They can enjoy fishing through outings to public parks and indoors the fishing programs on Wii can be fun. They can watch the Sunday game in a hang-out room for ‘men only’ where they can enjoy munchies and women free conversations.
They can dance with female residents in the Senior Prom, an evening party, or they can chair dance once a week in a chair dancing program.
Men can select the music played in the dining room, can have a group discussion of famous musicians and can sing, whistle and play music.
- Work Related Activities
Work was an important part of their lives. Former teachers can tutor the staff’s children in homework. Male residents can build birdhouses and bird feeders, work in the garden, paint murals, and build model airplanes and call numbers for bingo games.
- Create a Romeo Club
This can be a special meeting place and time for the guys to talk about their brides, the one who got away etc. Serve food and make it their own private time.
Buy motor kits for building simple machines and for those with dementia buy small appliances at flea markets and let the men take them apart.
Ask the maintenance department workers to allow the male residents to watch the workers changing light bulbs, painting hallways etc. These members of the ‘resident crew’ will feel part of the team even if they only say, “You missed a spot.”
Men can lead Bible study, give testimony at the church service or be a cantor at the Friday Jewish service. Many people with dementia remember Bible passages, hymns and even Hebrew.
Ask the Rotary, the Lions, the Knights of Columbus to occasionally meet in your facility. The clubs get a meeting space and your residents get to be a member of a club again.
Men’s Game Suggestions
- Write topics on a large plastic ball and toss in a circle of men. Where your right thumb lands you answer. Suggestion questions: What was your first car? What is your favorite food? What is your favorite movie?
- Noodle ball. Cut floating noodles in thirds and give them to male residents to use to hit a large ball around a room. Set up teams and keep score!
- Foot Loops Toss. Let each man select a color and give them each a set number of Foot Loops. Have the men toss the Foot Loops into an upside down umbrella – most in wins.
- Indoor horseshoes and card games such as poker and black jack.
- Flyswatters – blow up two balloons, set up volleyball net in the middle of the room. Divide the men into two teams and have each side swat the balloons over the net using flyswatters. The flyswatters extend their reach and increase their ability to make a successful hit!
And for those with Dementia
- String Foot Loops on yarn as bird feeders.
- Match up highs and lows and the colors of decks of cards.
- Have families bring in 25 photos and make a photo album for each man to look at and enjoy.
- Fly a paper airplane through a hoop game.
- Play dominos.
- Toss ping pong balls into a basket.
Find an empty corner of a hallway or a room and finish it as a men’s place. A bar counter, tables and chairs, fishing poles in the corner, a tool box and men’s magazines a TV and DVD with stacks of men’s movies on a set of shelves. Sometimes the best activity for retired men is a place where the men can be together.