Welcome to Week 2 of our Memory Care Activity Stations Series! This week we will be discussing stations for male residents. In the past, senior living has seen a skewed demographic of more females than males. Whether it be because men’s life expectancy is shorter than women, or because men are more insistent on remaining independent longer, research shows this trend is slowly changing and activities for men are becoming more important to implement. We are presenting the stations in a similar format to last week, in that these are stations predominantly used by men, but, they can be modified to include women as well.
Our first station is a Military Station. We like to focus this station on celebrating the residents who served, while promoting patriotism and pride. To avoid negative memories or feelings, stay away from items that are related to combat like helmets, or artwork or books that showcase battles or weapons. Every veteran has their own feelings about their time in the military. Some proudly signed on to serve their country, while others were drafted and felt (and maybe still feel) resentment. This is especially important to monitor as residents who served in Vietnam begin entering memory care in higher numbers. Unlike previous wars where soldiers were celebrated with parades upon returning home, those coming home from Vietnam experienced extreme negativity and protests.
This station can be as large or small as you’d like. For a smaller station, just putting some themed art and small items on the wall would be sufficient. We typically use a console table or bookshelf, along with a coat rack or wall hooks for uniforms. Some items we currently use are:
- Uniforms from branches of the military residents served in (army, navy, air force, etc.)
- Frames to put resident military photos in (ask families for copies of photos)
- Books about the military or patriotism (stay away from books about battles or weapons)
- Medals Small handheld American flags, on stands or in a container
- Patriotic items (word art, wall decorations, bunting
For artwork, patriotic images or military celebrations work best. One of our favorite images to use is the photograph “V-J Day in Times Square” by Alfred Eisenstaedt (the sailor kissing the nurse). We also love using the Rosie the Riveter “We Can Do It” ad to include women residents. Females were not active in combat until the 1990’s during the Persian Gulf war, but they were military nurses and in administrative roles since the Korean War. If your community has women residents who held one of these positions, it is great to incorporate pictures of them in their uniforms.
The next station is a Fishing Station. This is a station we need to be creative with since several items used in fishing are potentially dangerous to residents. We will often use fishing lures but remove all the hooks, or use a smaller fishing rod with just the fishing line and no lure. Luckily it is pretty easy to find some decorative fishing items to bulk up the station.
Some items we use for the Fishing Station are:
- Tackle box or fishing basket
- Bobbers (assorted sizes and colors)
- Fishing line
- Small fishing pole (you can find children’s poles that are a smaller version of the adult pole and not childish looking)
- Fishing gloves
- Fishing hat (bucket hat or baseball cap with fishing brand or imagery)
- Book about fishing with images of fish
- Fishing vest (hang on wall hook)
- Measuring tape (a regular one, or one specifically for fishing)
- Decorative fishing items (signs, fish figures/sculptures)
For artwork, we look for images of people fishing or images of actual fish. If there are certain kinds of fish that are common in the area, showcase those. Residents love to remember catching certain fish, they may even have a whopper of a story for you!
Lastly, we’re going to touch a little on Sports Stations. We know that men are not the only ones who love sports, but from what we’ve seen they seem to be who interact with the stations the most. These stations are probably the most customized as you will want items from your local teams to get residents excited. We typically include the most popular professional and college sports teams in the area. If a community has residents who were teachers or boosters from the local high school, that team can be included as well. Like the military example, this station can just consist of a wall station, or include a bookshelf or console table for extra items. Stay away from sporting goods that could be used as weapons (golf clubs, baseball bats, hockey stick, etc.) Some examples of items to use:
- Assorted baseball cards (we found these that have an assortment of teams and players)
- Team jersey or t-shirt
- Team signs or pennants
- Coffee table books on sports
- Baseball glove Baseball cap with sport logo
- Box of golf tees
- Sports section from newspaper
Artwork can be of specific teams or general sports images. We found these great canvas reproductions of old Milwaukee baseball tickets and used a photograph of the old stadium in the image above. Below, we stuck with a non-team specific baseball theme. It is also fun to find out which sports residents like and schedule an activity around a live sporting event, like grilling hot dogs and watching a baseball game on TV.
Male residents often constitute a small percentage of a community’s population, but it is still important to offer stations to engage and interest them. We hope we’ve given you some ideas you can implement in your community to make your residents feel more at home!