By Steve Moran
I believe the biggest single benefit senior living provides to older people is a cure for loneliness. We generally do a better job of curing loneliness for women than men. That is partly because senior living communities have more women than men and we mostly attribute that to demographics.
What if That Is Not Quite Right?
I am not arguing the statistics about women living longer than men is wrong, but I am suggesting that maybe we have an opportunity to attract more men and to program better for men.
You Need a Shed
In Australia, in the mid-90s there was real concern about mental health, depression, and socialization for retired men. While most or many women have significant friend networks, this is much less true for most men. In addition, women tend to communicate face-to-face and men side-to-side, meaning they build meaningful relationships by doing things together.
The shed idea was to create some woodworking shops where men could come to build and repair things creating an opportunity for side-by-side companionship that would grow into friendships. It has been incredibly successful with more than 1,000 sheds in Australia. And the movement has spread to the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, and Greece.
Sheds and Senior Living
I have this vision of a senior living community setting up a shed for men in the community, that would also, of course, serve residents. It would be a place that retired men could come to work, to meet, to create, and to fix things in their local communities. Here is why it could be magic for a senior living community:
- It would create purposeful activities for men in the senior living community.
- It would create a kind of intergenerational experience for men if it were open to men in the marketplace community.
- It would generate local publicity.
- It would be a lead generator.
- It would be a market differentiator.
You would need some space and some money to spend on equipment. But I believe in most marketplace communities you could find a group of volunteers who would take the ball and run with it. Your ongoing cost would be a bit of electricity and maybe some coffee and food.
If you want to check it out here are some links: