Currently, only 26% of assisted living residents are male, as per the National Center for Assisted Living. Although the ratio is not likely to change anytime soon – researchers say women will continue to outlive men – the total number of older men will increase as the population ages.
Earlier this month, Pam Gerhardt’s article “Assisted living facilities may be wise to appeal more to men” appeared in the Washington Post, detailing her recent visits to area communities in search of a fitting place for her father. In her words, “I noted the doilies and chintz…I was overwhelmed by potpourri and teddy bears with bows…Where is poker night? Where’s the bar?”
Boomers will be asking those questions more frequently in the coming years, as they visit assisted living facilities on behalf of their loved ones, and as they consider their own future needs and preferences.
The good news is that when men do transition to assisted living, they tend to do quite well, despite the presence of doilies, teddy bears and bows. Those who were isolated and lonely prior to move-in benefit greatly from the services provided and the community atmosphere fostered therein.
But experts recommend that assisted living communities seek ways to be more gender-friendly and make the home more appealing to men, particularly in terms of activities offered and the general aesthetics of the building.