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Showing posts from January, 2011

Fond of Fitness

When I saw the article in the USA Weekend magazine in my newspaper about senior's fitness,  with 73 year old Jane Fonda, it reminded me of how important the fitness element is on my activities calendar. It is an area, that fortunately, I have a fitness director's assistance with. Together we work towards giving the residents a variety of opportunities to exercise. I plan outings where there is walking involved, (and I do mention the need to be an "able walker" when I promote the outing), dances, and more. The Fitness Director plans classes for all level of senior adults. We have a video that the residents love that is simply a homemade video of a resident leading a chair class from many moons ago... that they will not stop doing, no matter how many new DVDs we bring in. We have a tai chi instructor who leads a modified class that includes some chair stretches; water aerobics, during the warmer months; walking outings along the beach or at a local park; and a few othe…


Volunteers are one of the keys to a successful activities program in a retirement community. If you are like me, you need all the help that you can get. I am a one person department and rely heavily on volunteers to run the community programs and help with office tasks.

Where I work, we have a volunteer orientation process. It begins with the volunteers getting an orientation and signing paperwork that includes HIPPA guidelines and the company's guidelines. It also covers emergency procedures and other "important" topics to the corporation. I try to give this volunteer orientation at a group meeting once a year. I invite all the residents who have not attended before to attend. They get the "in-service" and the handbook that requires their signature.

I think one of the hardest thing to do is recruit and retain good volunteers. The best way of course is when a resident offers their service without having to be asked (especially when they are good at what they a…

Website Organization

I believe that one of the best ways to be the greatest activities director is to use your time wisely. If you are like me, you get a lot of extra jobs that administration deems to be under your umbrella. Don't get me wrong, most of the time I enjoy the opportunity to work outside my normal scope, but other times, it is overwhelming.

One of the ways that I try to save time, so that I can get it all done, is to be well organized. There are a few areas of organization that I will discuss in the future, but today, I want to start with website organization. What I mean is this: If you've gone to a website and know that you will come back to it in the future, most likely you have saved it as a "favorite." That is great!  If not, start saving favorites next time you go on-line. Now, go back to the list, and organize it. Usually, this can be done in the same location that you click the word "favorite." There probably is a button for you to "make a new folder&q…

Special Events Resources

I love to look at the web to get ideas for my special events. Here are some of the ones that I find easy to work with and have saved as my favorites on my computer at work. you have a favorite website for progam planning ideas? How about a party planning book that you refer to? I've listed reserched a few that look interesting. Feel free to share your favorites with us.

Movies in your community

One of the hardest things to find is a good movie to show in your retirement community. It is like trying to find the perfect receipe for meatloaf. Everyone has their own opinion on what is best. I have been told by residents that they want more current releases to be shown, but nothing with bad words or situations that will make them feel uncomfortable. Then I have residents who want more classics, or musicals, or award winning films.  So now, I try to stick with the formula and it seems to work for me. I show one current release, one classic, one musical and one that is a movie that is of interest, but not in one of those categories. I do not see all the movies usually, so I rely on resident recommendations, requests, and on the Internet to read the reviews. Some of the sites that use to find reviews are Blockbuster, the Internet Movie Data BaseRotten Tomatoes and a new one that I just found called Movie-ozone.  I share the movies details, including it's ratings with the commu…

Activities Professional Week - January 16-21, 2011

Post it in your community and let everyone around you know!!

Check out this cool book, SENIOR ACTIVITIES PLANNING GUIDE, that I found on-line. If you click on the link, it will take you to the book and you can see the fine print on the cover. It says it has all the realcategories that independent living Activities Directors need to do their job, not just the ones other employees think we do.

Funny Video about Retirement Living Residents

Welcoming New Residents

Making a move into a retirement community is a major life change. It is a date that many long time residents will remember, much like the date the graduated, got married, left military service, or when their spouse passed away.

Part of my job as the Activities Director is to welcome the new residents into the community and help make their adjustment easier. At my community, the process involves the residents and the staff. Below is our process in a nutshell.
A staff member, who has helped them customize their new home, continues to work with them the day that they move-in. She oversees that the physical move goes smoothly. She offers to arrange for the new resident's first dinner to be brought to the apartment, instead of having them go into the dining room or casual dining area. This is usually well received because they are so tired from the move. We serve the family or other support people who are there also.This staff person also has sent a memo to all of our department heads,…

Birthday Celebrations

So this was the day of the month that we celebrate the residents' birthdays for the month. We do this every 2nd Tuesday of the month. The program is simple, but I think, pretty affective. We have a "happy hour" before the residents go into the dining room. It features punch, two hot hor's oeuvres, a cheese and cracker platter, and a dip of some kind served in our lobby. This goes for about an hour. While they enjoy their refreshments, I give a corsage/boutonniere to those celebrating. (at my community, we put a list of those with birthdays into our monthly newsletter.... some do not want to be listed because they don't want the attention from it.... and they do not get a flower)

As the residents are taken into the dining room, those who have a flower, receive a birthday balloon. That balloon gets tied onto their chair in the dining room, so that it decorates the room and people passing the tables know right away who to wish a happy birthday to.   Once the reside…

Theme Parties

Thought that I'd share with you the theme parties that I did last year and the ones that I have planned for this year. I'd love to hear about your special themed events, so feel free to brag about your best ones!
  An Evening in ParisBreakfast at Tiffany's Enjoying Italian Arabian Nights 

Fish 'N FunTax-time Blues  Country Club Coney Island   Asian Adventure

A Look at Calendars

I work for a wonderful company. They are the largest non-profit company in the US, I believe. They have 23 CCRCs (continuing care retirement community) in 8 states and serves over 9,000 seniors.

Check out the link below to see the calendars. My community is called St. Andrews Estates South.

New Year's Eve

Hi. Now that I've had time to digest the past few busy weeks, I thought that I would share the concerns that I have with New Year's Eve and see if any of you share the same issues.

My community does not allow alcohol beverages to be consumed in the common areas or at any program that the company supports. For New Year's Eve, we do a toast with sparkling cider in champagne flutes. But here is the dilemma. The residents finish eating dinner around 7:00 p.m.  That is the time that I have all my evening programs. I know that if they leave the "club house" area that they will not return if the program was later. So, I have my celebration on 12/31 from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.  We have a one-man band play dance music, have dance hosts for the single ladies, and have a little more dessert and punch for those who want it. (New Year's dinner is a fancy meal in the dinning room.)  The problem is that some people want to ring in the new year at midnight and others do n…


Hello. As an Activities Director in a Life Care Community (a retirement community with independent living, assisted living, and medical/health center) I have decided to combine my two passions together and start this blog. My first passion is my job! I have been working for the same company for the past 15 years and before that I was at a company for 10 years. I've know since high school that this was going to be the job for me!
My other passion is writing. (Notice that I did not say spelling.) I thought that I was going to be a journalist when I was younger until I realized that proper spelling was a necessity, and there was no spell check available at the time.
My goal for this blog is to share what I do in my job as activities director with other activities directors and help and inspire them. I feel that although we are competitors in the business world, that if I can help you make your resident's lives richer, than it is a winning situation for all of us! Please take tim…