Boys Will Be Boys

Valley Care includes programming 'just for men'

Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Traditionally, there are more women than men living at senior care facilities and enrolled in adult day centers. But men and women have a unique set of interests to consider when planning stimulating and engaging activities for a diverse population.

At Valley Care in Ambridge, an adult day center for seniors, and throughout the Lutheran SeniorLife system, staff recognizes the importance of providing activities specifically for their male participants.

“We understand that they have different hobbies and interests than the women. It is important for the men to have time to themselves, engaging in activities that appeal to them,” said Susan Nirschel, director of Valley Care Adult Day Services.

Although the men also enjoy some of the co-ed activities like card games or musical entertainment, Nirschel said that other things like crafts may not always be appealing to them.

“Our guys are encouraged to become involved in the activity planning, so that we know what will interest each of them. In their younger years, many of them worked with their hands, spent time in the military or liked to hunt or fish. We need to make sure that we structure their activities to reflect these interests,” she continued.

For example, Nirschel said, many of the participants are excited about the warmer weather, and tending to the flowers outside the adult day center. For the men who may not have a green thumb, the activity staff will engage them in helping to assemble a table top greenhouse for their new plants.

By assembling the greenhouse, the men will have a sense of pride in their handiwork, while also feeling that they have created something useful that everyone can enjoy.

Recently, after learning that several of the men had an interest in cars, some remote control model cars were purchased.

“The guys just love them!” Nirschel said, explaining that the men helped get the cars out of the boxes, read the instructions and inserted the batteries, giving them ownership of the project.

“Taking them outside into the courtyard to race gets them out for some fresh air, encourages friendly competition and sparks conversations about cars they may have owned or maintained in the past. It’s a perfect activity for them.”

Nirschel said that it is important to sometimes think “outside the box” to create activities that are pleasing for all their participants and their individual interests and ability levels.

“Our participants, both men and women, are unique,” she said. “So our programming can’t be one size fits all.”

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