Visit an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility, and one observation may immediately strike you—there are a lot more women than men. Women outnumber men in assisted living by a ratio of 7 to 1, and even higher in nursing homes.
Women outlive men by an average of six to seven years. After an older person loses his or her spouse and can no longer live alone, a need for assisted living or skilled nursing often arises. Because the surviving spouse is more frequently a woman, this tips the balance of the senior living population toward the female side.
When Men Are Outnumbered
Men may not feel “at home” in a senior living community that is predominantly populated by women. In some cases, it can be something as simple as the décor—i.e., an environment in which pinks and purples dominate and floral patterns are more prominent than paisleys or geometrics.
What Men Should Look For
Because most senior living communities are dominated by women, families may need to be more diligent when looking for an appropriate place for their father to live. When checking out various residents, ask about the male-to-female ratio. Look for a community in which men make up at least 20 to 25 percent of total residents.
It also makes sense for families to check out amenities before determining whether a particular assisted living community of nursing home is right for their dad. Take a look at the calendar of activities, making sure the community offers a range of games that have equitable appeal to both genders. For instance, men may find it appealing that the calendar features poker as well as bingo. And they might enjoy the fact that there is an “Action Movie Night” to counter-balance the romantic comedies and classic musicals that are offered during the rest of the week.
And don’t forget that physical surroundings do matter. If you’re touring several communities, you may want to cross off your list those that seem overly feminized. Or if everything else about the community is appealing, perhaps you can talk to the administrators to see if there are areas that could be made more gender-neutral out of consideration for the male residents.