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Showing posts from 2015

Do's For Your Dance

During December my community hosts its annual holiday gala dance. It is a semi-formal event with high-end appetizers and a first-class dinner. Every year we try to raise the bar on this special night. After working with my company for the past 18 years, it is a challenge to keep it fresh and exciting, but the evening always seems to be very well received.
With those years of experience come a few lessons that I have learned. You may not host a gala dance, but I think you will still find these points helpful in your job as activities director.

Promote the date of your event well in advance so that residents have time to plan their evening (outfit, guests, table seating arrangements)Book a special musical talent for this night. This should not be someone your community uses on a regular basis. At the same time, you should develop a good working relationship with the performers so that in case they must cancel on you at the last minute, they will work hard to find …

Key Ingredients for Successful Holidays

Take time before the full craziness of the holiday schedule begins to get yourself prepared
Have a plan for the next few months, but be flexible enough to change them
Adjust your attitude from overwhelmed to “I can do this,” and see the opportunities for enhancing  your resident’s lives

Scared to Say Yes?

October can be scary! Not because of the ghosts and goblins that might be coming to your community to trick or treat, but because of requests from your residents who live there, when they ask you to try something out of your comfort zone. (And yes, this can happen any time of the year!)
A resident recently came to me to ask if I'd organize an outing to a local Oktoberfest. I shared my concerns for the group's safety on this trip because of the footing at the fairgrounds, the rowdiness of the crowd, and the ability to track down missing residents if they do not return to the bus at the scheduled time. My "final" decision was, no, I would not be organizing the trip for her.

After a few days, the resident came back to me and said that she would do all the research about the trip for me and bring it to me for another look. In addition to all her research, I also knew well enough that she was talking the trip up to her friends in the community so that the trip would be s…

3 Styles of Scavenger Hunts

Boy is it hot outside! If you are like me you may still be looking for indoor activities that are fun for your residents to do. This activity that I will share with you can be done for different levels of care in your retirement community. I encourage you to share it with the other activity professionals that work in those other areas within your own community.

The activity is the Scavenge Hunt. This can be done in three different ways and I will describe them below:
1)The Stay Seated Scavenger Hunt vAsk audience to bring in items they think will be asked for. Encourage them to fill their purses, pockets, bags, etc. and bring it to the event vMake a list of items that they could bring with them vInclude items that would be funny, that might have a story to go with them, or that people would be surprised someone would actually have. (Green Stamps anyone?) vSee the list I used vCut the list into pieces and place them into a basket vAsk people to draw the item out of the basket. (This gets mo…

Scam Education Made Easy

From time to time the issue of resident's being scammed rears its ugly head in our community. The issue is brought to our administration usually by a brave resident or two. What usually happens after we see a pattern or increase in frequency is that the administration office sends out a memo reminding people not to fall into the current trap that was reported.
As Activities Director at the community, I think this is an opportunity for an activity. It is not necessarily a fun activity, but one that would educate the community about the current trends in scamming, and more importantly, how to avoid becoming a victim. 
First you should understand why residents living in alone, in continuing care communities, assisted livings and nursing homes are prime targets for scammers. Take a look at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) website. It addresses telemarketing fraud along with other types of scams that our resident's fall victim to. If you prefer to watch a documentary f…

Play Music More Often

"Music is the soundtrack of your life," said Dick Clark. When you hear a song, if you are like me, it takes you back to that time in your life when you heard the song for the first time or to the occasion where you heard it. That is powerful. Can you imagine the music that our residents have heard in their lifetime? Just like the world in general, they have experienced so much and it is nice when we, as activities professionals, can take them back to the happier days, with the soundtracks from their lives.
So, the question I pose to you today is how do you find and present music to your residents? Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is by way of hired professional performers. That is a given in our jobs, so in this post, I'd like to focus on a few other ways that you can bring music to your residents that they will recognize and enjoy, along with theme music for your special events.

Pandora, Amazon, (search MP3 Download then search free songs) and YouTube are pla…

Mentoring Lessons

Being a Mentor is an important role.  As I write this article, it is not yet Mother’s Day and I am writing for the month of June, which is when we celebrate Father’s Day. For many of us, our parents were our first mentors.  In this article, I am sharing a mentoring encounter with you because it was a learning experience….for both of us!
The company that I work for has communities throughout the United States. At one location a young lady was recently hired to fill the position of Activities Director, but had little experience with the profession, and none with the company’s procedures. Her Executive Director had meet me and my counterpart at a neighboring sister-community, and sent her to train with us.  At first my co-worker and I were considered about the time it would take away from our regular jobs, but we changed our mindset after talking it over. We felt that it was an honor to be asked, because the Executive Director could have sent the new hired Activities Director to any oth…

Puzzle Theme for Volunteer Appreciation

Volunteers are an essential piece of retirement communities! They can be found volunteering at the reception desk when you first walk in, running an activity for the entire community to attend, folding napkins for the dining room and even taking potential residents on tours of the community for the sales and marketing department. Resident volunteers may also be board or committee members of your community's resident board. It is hard to imagine a successful community without resident volunteers.

As the activities director in my CCRC community, it is my responsibility to make sure there is a wonderful appreciation luncheon every year to thank our residents. This year we used a puzzle theme for the lunch. The idea came to us (me and my co-workers from our neighboring sister community) from the Positive Promotions catalog.

Here are the highlights of the event that connected the pieces together for a successful and meaningful afternoon:

In Advance
1) Took a photo of the entrance of our…

Mother's Day Tea

Happy Mother's Day! When planning your events for the month, you might want to consider hosting a Mother's Day Tea, but add a special twist to it with a program about High Tea. Sometimes you don't have to think too far outside the (tea) box to have a special lunch for Moms. The guests are coming to a Tea Party and enjoy drinking tea. So share the story of tea!
I will tell you that when I hosted this party, it was not my idea to start with exactly. Having the party and focusing on the tea aspect came about because I had a resident who came into my office with a problem. She wanted to host a party for a few of her friends but was concerned that she might offend someone that she would forgot to invite, and if the party got to big, she would not be able to afford to do it properly. She shared with me that she had talked about teas in the past and was going to present a "little talk" as a part of her party. After a few discussions with her, we came to the conclusion …

Love Thy Neighbor Theme Party

In the retirement community where I am the activities director, we started a new program this year where residents are encouraged to nominate an employee for an employee of the month program. The concept of an employee showing the resident loving-kindness and going above and beyond their job duty is a concept that residents and employees are having a hard time understanding. It was a concept that I wanted to build on for the sake of the employee of the month program, so I created a "Love Thy Neighbor" theme party.
The idea would be that residents would have an opportunity to share what they love or appreciate about their neighbor.  Here are the bullet points about how I put this party together:
Assigned each of our 5 buildings a color to wearDecorated the Lobby (party room) with balloons for each building's colorUsed Sweetheart candies to create a center piece for each buffet table and on the tables for extra colorPrinted paper hearts - to coordinate with each building&#…

Cane Fu Self Defense

As an activities professional, I am always looking for a new program to add to my calendar. If it is free, that is great. If it is done by a professional, that is better. If it is something the residents can benefit from socially, emotionally, physically, professionally, or spiritually, that is what I want! And, if it can be added to the calendar as a repeating event, then it is a must. My gift to you this month is such a program. It was brought to my attention recently and has just been added to my activities calendar. 
The program is called Cane-Fu. It is a program that teaches seniors how to use their cane for self-defense purposes. It includes elements of balance, stretching and defensive moves. Our local police department has a few police officers who are trained instructors in the program, and they contacted us about starting the program in our community. I know that when the residents see a uniformed officer leading the class, that it gives the class some serious clout. 
The stud…

Romantic Movies for Seniors

Valentines Day Movies, that are especially right for my group of senior adults, takes some time to figure out because the residents in my community are pretty conservative and are not interested in casual sex, seeing any kind of "hanky-panky" implied, or listening to too much foul language. With this criteria in mind, I present to you a list of movies that I have shown, or would be willing to show, in my community during the month of February. They are listed in chronological order.

Casablanca (1942)An Affair to Remember (1957)Love Story (1970)Somewhere in Time (1980) An Officer and A Gentleman (1982)A Room with  a View (1985)  Sleepless in Seattle (1993)Emma (1996)Titanic (1997) Shakespeare in Love (1998)Love Actually (2003)The Notebook (2004)Pride and Prejudice  (2005)Winter's Tale (2014) CLICK ON THE DVD TO STOP THE SLIDESHOW TO ORDER  YOUR MOVIE DIRECTLY FROM AMAZON! Widgets


"Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”
 - Brad Paisley As we begin a new year, and look at the 12 months of planning ahead of us as activities professionals, it can be both overwhelming and exciting!  I'd like to share a few ways that I look at this situation.

First, I review last year's successes and add the programs that I want back onto the new year's calendar. This is a good base for raising the bar for your programming because you are starting off with what was well received. Only take the best and leave the other activity ideas in the past. 
Next, I take a look at ideas that are sitting on my desk in my to-do pile. These ideas include entertainers that I want to book, places that we should go to, class ideas, etc. etc.  I pull out the ideas that I am really interested in and start penciling them onto my calendar where I think that they will work best. I make a note on the information according to what I penciled on my calendar. At t…