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Showing posts from 2012

More Movies

Seems like we have been taking our residents to the movie theater more lately because of the great selection of movies that are available. They've enjoyed The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Queen,The King's Speech, and more in the theater. As activities director's this sounds like an easy outing to plan, but it usually is not. We like to plan programs in advance and put them onto our calendars with a specific date and time..... and they should be accurate, of course. But with most theaters, they do not announce their show times until the middle of the week for the upcoming week. Because of this, most of the announcements that I put out to sell a moving outing are an addition to the calendar, promoted usually with "time to be announced," and then followed up by phone calls to those signed up to tell them the correct bus departure time. It is more work than the average outing. As an activities director, you can tell by the previews when something looks good for y…

Dance Lessons for Activities Directors

Seniors going Gangnam Style makes the news because of the trendy moves they are doing in their retirement community! I love it when the world gets to see that seniors are not all sitting in their rocking chairs knitting!
This week at my community, we had our annual holiday gala dance. I had received a call from my entertainer for the night saying that he was sick and was sending someone else in his place. My thoughts went from "oh crap" to "oh yea" to "uh oh." The fear of the unknown performer on one of the most popular high-end events of the year! Well, turns out that I learned two lessons this week when preparing for the event.
The first thing that I learned is, that if you have a good working relationship with a professional entertainer, he will take good care of you, even if he is not there. I had an entertainer cancel earlier in the month, but he did not find a replacement for himself and left me with nothing. The difference that I can see is that th…

National Eye Month Activities for Seniors

January is National Eye Month and as the Activities Director in an independent living retirement community, I  like to draw attention to it due to the fact that there are residents living in our community with eye issues.  Yes, we can recognize each month's health focus and that might come across as "not real fun activities," so pick and choose the ones that will work in your community and then make it great. 
For National Eye Month, there are a few different programs that will benefit your community and they are:
Invite a local area's eye doctor to come give a lecture to your residents about eye care/eye healthAsk an organization like The American Foundation for the Blind to provide a speaker who would come to the community and share the tools that can help low-vision residents with their daily living tasks. See the Resources for Activities Directors for some low vision game aids that will help your residents stay "in the game."Provide a bus to a store tha…

FaceBook for Seniors

The senior adults living in my retirement community are using electronics to stay in touch with their families and their friends more and more these days. Even one of our active 100+ resident understands how amazing the Internet is. She was interviewed this election year and saw and heard herself immediately on-line - as did her family when the links were shared. Residents are using their home computers,their laptops, Kindles, and smartphones to stay connected without having to travel to visit. They are using Skype and Facebook and having a great time.
I found a very good article about seniors using Facebook. It addresses the long term health and social benefits of staying connected. This article also shares another cool aspect..... the inter-generational connection that can be created with high school seniors working with senior adults.

I found this video showing seniors attending a workshop about Facebook. I'm sharing it so that you can see the value of Facebook to our resid…

Seniors Keep in Touch with Technology

Now more than ever, seniors do not have to be isolated from their loved ones when they move into a retirement community. As the activities director, I feel it is important to keep the residents in touch with the world around them through current events programs, college professors sharing their knowledge, etc.
One of the other areas of interest is the World Wide Web, aka, the Internet. In my community, we have a wonderful computer club that was started by a resident. He trained more residents so that they could teach others, and the club has grown each year. They have guest speakers (some from our company's own Information Technology department), group meetings, and one-on-one tutoring. 
It is a fact that baby boomers and those who came before them are more interested in technology then ever before. Many of them have IPads, IPhones, computers, tablets, e-readers, smartphones, etc. Here is a great article about gadget going grandparents that is right on the mark. I also wrote  blo…

Contemplate & Create

A small, but very interested, and talented group of residents went to the museum recently. This trip was different from any other outing to the museum because the residents went to "Contemplate and Create." That was the name of the program at our local museum, and that is exactly what they did. 
The program was basically a tour of specific items in the museum, with narration by the docent highlighting the concepts that we would later put into practice in our own work. There were a few different topics to select from. I choose "assemblage" thinking that it would be the least intimidating.  
After the tour, we went to a classroom area in the museum that I never even knew existed. The teachers for this portion of our outing had everything ready for us. They had a plain white box that would become our work area, along with magazines pre-clipped and organized by subjects, pipe cleaners, buttons, corks, straws, small plastic animals, beads, scissors glue, etc., etc.  Th…

Safari Theme Party: A Roaring Good Time!

Animal print is the rage right now! You can find it in stores in the clothing department, shoe department, housewares and just about anywhere else you look, and it is the perfect time to have a Safari theme party in your retirement community! 
For my special event, I rented a large tent and had it put up outside. I decorated the tent with the cuttings from the plants that were around the area by placing them on the legs of the tent and up in the apexes of the tent. For the tent I had, there were three specific points to decorate from. I found pinata monkeys and hung them from those points and used the plant cuttings to cover the place where they were hanging. I also used a course rope to hang the monkeys so that it looked more genuine for the theme. (I did have to use multiple pieces for the rope in order for it to be thick enough to be seen.) Make sure if you hang something from the tent that you bring it down low enough to be seen, but keep it high enough for tall guys to work under…

Promoting Activities

In the retirement community where I work, promoting my activities is an important element of my job as activities director. I use a few different methods. I use written announcements that are available twice a week, my in-house television community's channel, a monthly newsletter, posters on a bulletin board next to my sign up sheets and a magnetic board in the main lobby. Today, I want to talk about the magnetic board in the lobby.  
We bought a large brass floor easel and a magnetic board to advertise the foremost activities happening in the community. Due to space it is really important that you control the items on the board, so that your residents know that this is the place for them to find the "need to know at this moment kind of stuff." I like to keep mine in date order, so I am constantly moving the poster that are on the board around once I remove or add one. Usually there is a poster for the week's movie, the week's entertainment, a special meeting, g…

Storage Room Solutions

One of the common problems with being an activities director in a retirement community is the lack of storage for all of our goodies! I am lucky in the fact that I do have a large closet that I keep my theme party, special events, and holiday decorations (besides Christmas). Christmas is in another separate storage area. If you do not have a storage area, maybe now, with the housing market being slow, is a good time to discuss this with your administrator.

Once you have a storage area, what is the best way to make the most out of it? Here area a few pointers that I use:

Buy clear plastic bins that are large enough to hold a specific subject's items. I try to pick up one or two when I find them on sale. Keep in mind the largest item and buy accordingly. You may also find that when residents leave their home that there are storage pieces that you may be able to useUse clean and dry boxes from your kitchen and housekeeping departments Label the box well. I use a simple piece of typin…

Activities Director Title

I saw this link for an article regarding the job title and perception of activities directors in long term care on the UK Geractive Facebook page. The article is titled  Let's Change 'Activity Director' to 'Chief Experience Officer' and although it was written almost a year ago, still holds a lot of truth and value. The article is from McKnight's which is a long-term care and assisted living newspaper. After reading the article, take the poll at the top of my blog and let everyone know what real activities directors think about it. Then, check back and see how your opinion compared to others who respond by clicking the link that says poll results at the bottom of the poll!
Public OpinionPoll Results

National Breast Cancer Awareness Activities for Senior Adults

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and at my retirement community we as staff and residents walk in the local Susan G Komen "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" Walk. It has become an annual event that is spearheaded by our Fitness Director and raises money for this worthy cause. It also shows the community at large that the residents and staff within the retirement community where we work and live cares!
I was searching the web to find some other ideas that would help raise awareness and funds for this cause. If you go on-line, there are a lot of ideas. Some bigger, some smaller. Some are practical for our population and some are not. You can get lost in reading them all. It is fantastic that they are so available. Below are a few thoughts that I believe are the best choices for you, as activities director to review and include on your calendar for October. 
Have a Doctor or Nurse come in and give your female residents free breast exams and show them how to…

Fashion Show Lunch

Residents as stars of the show, great food in a country club environment makes for a wonderful afternoon in my retirement community. Once a year, I host a fashion show in my auditorium. It is a "free" program to put together and the interest to attend is always high. Here is my action plan for success.

6 - 8 weeks ahead:
Contact a local boutique and ask if they will host a fashion show at your community. Models provided by the store or by the community?If they are to be residents, how many and what sizes?Determine if  model's fittings will take place at the store in advance or in the community the day of the show.Will resident models get any discount the day of the show?What kind of microphone is best for the Master of Ceremonies providing the show?Podium or lectern?Sale of clothes after the show and the requirements for that?Lunch before, during or after the style show? When will the staff from the boutique arrive on show day?When should the models arrive on show day?Di…

Resident Run Programs for Success

I love when a resident comes to me and says that they want to provide a program to those they live within our retirement community. The positives usually outweigh the negatives in these kind of programs. I have residents in my CCRC who have presented the following:
·"Getting to Know" you shows with fellow residents. Here they interview a resident and develop a program to showcase their story so that it fits into an one hour format on our stage
·Teach backgammon, Bunco, etc and then continue to meet on a regular basis
·Recognize that it is a special day or month in the year and host a program to recognize it. For example, September was National Sewing Month, and there was a gathering to discuss the resident's past and present successes and also determine if there is an interest for future gatherings.
·Host a poetry reading program that features a resident presenting his or her favorites
·Arts and Crafts programs including a beginners painting class where the resident in charg…

Senior Needs at Stadium

A new university football stadium opened recently and it is about 15 minutes from my retirement community. I've taken my residents to college basketball games and to professional baseball games in the past, and I know there is an interest for such outings with my sports minded residents.
I contacted the group representative at the university and selected out tickets based upon a few important facts; that the bus drop off location should be close to our seats and that there would be limited steps to our seats.  I explained that this was a group of senior adults and that it was very important for their safety and piece of mind. The rep seemed to understand and our transaction was completed. What follows are the details of a stressful outing and the lessons that I learned.

When I got to the stadium, I told the driver to go to Gate 5 as I was instructed. When we got there, the staff told us that we needed to go to Gate 6 instead. Right away, I started worrying if it was going to be clos…

Hollywood Theme Party

Old Hollywood! What a wonderful period in history to celebrate with independent living residents in a CCRC retirement community. I just held this theme party this week, and I must say that it was a smash hit! It really was not hard at all to create, and the overwhelming results were terrific. Here is what I did.
I went to my storage closet and started digging around. I ended up in one of my New Year's Eve boxes that I had marked "black and gold." I pulled out all the black stars that I could find, some black material, tooling that had gold stars on it, a few black sequenced hats, and some other stuff that I did not end up using. In another box that I had used for a movie night, I found paper items including a gold Oscar cut-out, some theater lights cut-outs, a mural of the red carpet, and other theater related items. Online, I found some cool piƱatas of a clap-board and an old movie projector. And lastly, I always like to keep silk flowers on-hand to use, so I brought do…

Olympics Events

The Olympics! They are the hot topic in my retirement community as I am sure they are in yours. My attendance for programs has fallen a bit and I'm sure it is because of this special event. 
I'm sure that some of you had a gathering of some sort to watch the Opening Ceremonies and I would love to hear your comments on what you did and how it went. One of my "sister-communities" did something that I thought was pretty special. They had the opening ceremonies viewing party, and followed it up with a two-week long special dining program. They decorated the main dining room, using hula-hoops as the Olympic rings as part of the decorations, and then made a hand-out to give out the first night of the program. The hand out gave interested facts about the Olympics and also explained the two-week program. Basically, the culinary staff committed to make a special dish from a different country each evening and add it to the menu. Next to the item, it will have a small picture …

Activities Chart

A well-rounded activities calendar is the key to success in an independent living retirement community. When I think about having a program that is "well-rounded," I think about having something for everyone. Now, I know after 25 years in the field that I will not have everyone participate, nor enjoy everything that they are involved with, but I make every effort possible.
I am lucky enough to have the best of both worlds. I am a one person department and yet I have co-workers to share the workload. My company owns two other communities within a 10 minute drive of one another. Each community has an activities department and we share a common transportation department. Because of the buses and because of the needs to have escorted outings, we have learned to pull our resources together and create a well-rounded program for all three communities. It is a win-win situation for us and for the residents who we serve. Don't get me wrong.... it is not the same calendar at all …

Pets in Retirement Community

As an animal lover, I understand why it is wonderful for residents to have a pet in their apartment when they come to a retirement community. As a department manager, I see the problems that come in time when a resident can no longer take care of their beloved pet. And, as the Activities Director in the community, I program for those residents who want to share the love of their pets with others in the community. Check out my blog on the annual dog show that we have each August. But, there are other interesting topics that need to be covered when we think about pets and senior adults.
The first is pet therapy in nursing home. This can be done formally or informally. Since I work with the independent living residents, I see how those with dogs choose to have them interact with fellow residents (or not). Those residents with the pets get a lot of enjoyment from sharing their loved one with others, the animal usually enjoys the interaction, and the resident who choose to stop and greet t…

National Ice Cream Day!

National Ice Cream Day is the 3rd Sunday in July.... so this year it is July 15. In my retirement community I'm being asked to provide more weekend programming, so when I saw this, it was a "no-brainer." I will have an ice cream social after the resident finish with dinner - which on Sunday is served at Noon in our community. But, I thought to my self, this is not good enough. How can I raise the bar on this program and make it better? Having a make your own sundae bar on a Sunday is cool, but what can be the cherry on top of this? What I found was something that my husband and I enjoy - a video presentation of the best places to eat. It is a DVD called An Ice Cream Show and it takes you to many of the finest and most unique ice cream palors around. It is perfect for this event. I will set the room up with tables and chairs so that they can watch the movie while enjoying their sundae.  I also found a great website that tells you more about this fun day called Holiday Ins…

Breakfast at Tiffany's

"You could always tell what kind of a person a man thinks you are by the earrings he gives you. I must say, the mind reels." said Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's. If you are an Activities Director, you know that you are only as good as your last event! Let me share with you one of the most memorable events I've done in a long time. . . . .Breakfast at Tiffany's!

We had this upscale party as a special event one evening in my retirement community. We suggested that the residents wear their pajamas, or for the ladies, the iconic Audrey Hepburn look - a black dress with pearls, sunglasses and gloves. There were some residents who were very concerned about the idea of wearing their p.j.s out in public, but when we gave them the alternate option, they were more comfortable. Those who wore their pajamas, did so with good taste. Some men wore smoking jackets. There is also a good picture of residents dressed for the party on my blog post, Theme ideas page. As …