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Man oh Man!
By Debi Trammell
Activity Director

   If you do not happen to be a 75 year old man, imagine for a moment that you are one.
   Can you picture it?
   Now pick up your activity calendar and circle five activities you would love to attend.
   How did it go? Were there plenty of “manly” activities to choose from, or is your
calendar focused on activities that are typically more appealing to women?
   If your calendar focuses on women, you’re not alone. It’s a fact that women often
outlive men. Consequently, the woman to man ratio in most nursing homes usually
leans heavily to the female side.
   It makes sense to plan your calendar to appeal to your largest audience, but it’s
important to include activities that attract the men in your facility as well.

Appealing to men
   What makes an activity calendar appealing to men?
   At the risk of generalizing, men of our resident’s generation enjoy activities that are
competitive, productive, interesting and purposeful.
   They like to share their knowledge and life experiences. Men enjoy the company of
other men but are not likely to seek out that companionship.
   However, once that connection is made, they enjoy sharing stories and
   I once read an article that said women are raised to converse and connect and men
are raised to hunt and gather.
   Can you imagine a hunter sitting down for a long heartfelt reminiscing session about
the first day of school?
   No. He’d be busy checking out his surroundings and searching for his family’s next
meal. The thrill of the hunt and the pride of gathering everything his family needs are his
main focus.  Men in nursing homes are still hunters and gatherers.
   They need to be stimulated, interested and motivated. They need to be occupied.
   That doesn’t mean you have to change your whole calendar.
   Adding some men-only activities would be easy to do. Some activities you might try:
   Active Games – Bocce Ball, horseshoes, Darts, Penny Pitching.
   Fix It Club - Work with your maintenance director to find small repairs the men can do,
like easy assemblies, battery changes, sanding, tightening screws, gluing, etc.
   Print up work orders and assign the jobs.
   Men Only Outings – Plan one outing a month for men only.
Make suggestions, but let them choose where to go.
   Ball Games are always a good choice (if major league games aren’t possible, how
about a Friday night football game at a local high school?)
   Other possibilities may be a pool hall, a tour of a sports arena, movies, bowling, a
fishing pier, restaurants, a large sporting goods store, Home Depot, a car lot or a
factory tour.
   Poker – This works best if a male staffer or resident will host the game. Make sure
you have plenty of munchies and something to drink.
   Dominoes/Checkers/Chess – Set up friendly games or a serious tournament. Keep
games in an accessible area so they are always available. Set up games with other
facilities or a senior center.
   Vets Club – Contact your local veteran’s association and invite them to visit with your
men once a month.
   Let this group plan presentations and ceremonies on Memorial
Day, Veteran’s Day, Fourth of July. Let them raise and lower the facility’s American flag
every day.
   Men’s Nail Care – Men like neat, clean nails, too. Set up a time for just the guys to get
pampered a little.  You can call it MAN-i-cures or Neat Nails. Keep the pink polish out of
   Men’s Bible Study – Again, I believe this activity is best led by a male.
   A local church is a good place to look for a teacher, but chances are pretty good that
you have a resident who would enjoy taking on this role.
   Men are much more likely to open up in a man-only bible study.
   Men’s Discussion Groups – War, cars, sports, current events, politics, travel stories,
careers, history, trivia… Ask different men to lead these discussions based on their life
   Men’s Movie Night – Show westerns, action films, slapstick comedy. Think John
Wayne, James Bond, the Three Stooges. Serve drinks and popcorn.
   Men’s Breakfast – Invite your men for a pancakes and bacon.
Cook it in front of them to stir up memories of home-cooked breakfasts.  Be sure to
have plenty of hot coffee ready to serve!
   Video Games – The possibilities are endless. They can big game hunt, bowl, fish,
race, almost anything.  Video games will bring out the boy in your men and they’ll love
the competitive aspect of this activity.
   Activity Volunteer – Assign jobs to those who want to volunteer.
Someone can change the information on the reality orientation board.  Someone else
can hand out bingo cards.  Look around for tasks that can be done by some of your
men.  Everyone likes to feel useful.
   Sports on Television – Any televised sporting event is an opportunity to gather your
male residents for some fun.  Add snacks and something to drink and you’re ready to
   Boy Scouts – Invite a local Boy Scout troop to hold their meetings at your facility.
Sponsor a pinewood derby race and let your men work on the cars with the scouts and
compete for trophies.  The men can also help with Eagle Scout projects.
   Now that you have some ideas, how do you get the men to come?
   Invite them. Make special invitations for your first few events and personally hand
them out. Make it clear that this is a special activity planned just for them.
   Remind them. Mention it when you pass male residents in the hall, hang posters or
make table tents for the dining room tables.
   Use peer pressure. Choose one or two “ambassadors” among your male residents.
Encourage them to talk it up and spread the word about your new activities.  Make sure
you let the men know their friends are coming.
   Stick to the “men only” rule.  If it’s a men’s event, don’t let the women in. Keep the
activity special and exclusive to your male residents. Make sure to offer “women only”
events on your calendar, too.
   A few changes and additions to your activity calendar will bring women and men
running to your scheduled activities. And man oh man, won’t that be fun?

Until next time,

 Debi Trammell is a full time Activity Director at Crestview Court, a 125 bed skilled
nursing facility located in Cedar Hill, Texas.
   She is responsible for activity planning volunteer coordination for an active group of
young-minded residents.  Formerly a corporate marketing manager, Debi has been an
Activity Professional in long term care for 10 years.
   She recently completed MEPAP Part 2 and has applied for certification. Future plans
include consulting and writing more activity articles.
   Debi is a regular columnist in the publication Current Activities in Geriatric Care.  For
more information, and to subscribe: