10 Sensory Activities for Men

10 Sensory Activities for Men

User Profile By Haley Burress   United States

Found In: Activities For Men Articles

Struggling to find ideas for men-specific sensory stimulation experiences? Try these for inspiration.
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Sensory stimulation experiences are often easier to plan for women. However, men can benefit from sensory kits too. Here are some ideas and inspiration to get you started.

9 Benefits of Sensory Stimulation

Sensory stimulation, or engaging more than one of the five senses during the same experience, has been proven to have a wide variety of cognitive and physical health benefits. Some benefits from sensory stimulation groups or 1:1 interactions can include:

  • Decreased aggressive behaviors
  • Increased relaxation or feelings of peace and calm
  • Better sleep (falling asleep and staying asleep)
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased attention span and general attentiveness
  • Better overall mood
  • Increased capacity for conversation
  • Decreased feelings of depression or anxiety
  • Less anxious behaviors (pacing, wringing hands, etc.)

How Sensory Stimulation Works

There are five human senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. When you create an experience or interaction that engages more than one of those senses at a time, it is called sensory stimulation. Many Activity Professionals believe that a complete sensory experience needs to engage all five senses at once; however, this can end up being awkward and overstimulating! Try to engage 2-3 senses during an interaction; this approach seems to be the sweet spot for most residents.

Sensory stimulation isn’t just for older adults living with dementia (or just for older adults). In fact, sensory stimulation works for everyone, including on yourself. Think about it: when you have a hard day at work, you might feel more calm if you jump in a lavender scented bubble bath and listen to your favorite music. Or, you might help your child stay focused during virtual school by squeezing a stress ball and diffusing peppermint essential oil.

Almost all of us have sensory experiences multiple times throughout the day without planning it. However, older adults (especially those living with dementia or other cognitive disorders) can struggle with creating these relaxing moments on their own.

Challenges with Male Residents

Many Activity Professionals find it difficult to plan male-centric activity groups, and the same goes for male-centric sensory stimulation groups or interactions. It’s okay if you struggle with engaging male residents in a sensory group. There are plenty of obstacles that can make sensory stimulation with men a bit more challenging:

  • Men tend to be less open to touch-based activities
  • Men can sometimes resist group activities that are rooted in relaxation or being still (they are used to being on the go)
  • Sensory groups are naturally skewed toward women (manicures or hand massages, for example, are a staple on many activity calendars and might not appeal to the majority of male residents)

While it is presumptuous to assume that all men will like the same things or have the same interests, or that most men will not like experiences like hand massages, you can choose to make a targeted effort at trying out male-centric sensory kits during interactions. 

As with all new activities or approaches, remember that you will not hit a home-run during your first attempts. Don’t be discouraged! Keep trying, making sure you are staying as person-centered as possible.

10 Sensory Ideas for Men to Get You Started

Here are some ideas that might change how you and your male residents look at sensory experiences. Try one or a few to see how they work with your current group.

  1. Sports can be an excellent theme to start your sensory interaction. Try listening to college fight songs and tossing a football around, or sift through professional team logo photos and listen to audio from a famous game.
  2. Men who worked with their hands professionally or as a hobby can benefit from sensory experiences rooted in that history. Try sanding blocks of wood while listening to nature sounds or match nuts and bolts while listening to a soundtrack of favorite tunes.
  3. For men who worked in an office, bring in a briefcase full of papers to sort and sip coffee in between batches. Sorting through and tying neckties, as well as shining dress shoes, are also excellent activities to pair with coffee.
  4. Look through photos of vintage cars or motorcycles while listening to favorite music. If it’s nice outside, plan for a sensory experience of washing or waxing a family member or staff member automobile. (My residents used to genuinely love that activity!)
  5. Tie sailor knots and listen to ocean sounds.
  6. Sort through trail maps or photos and listen to nature sounds.
  7. Sift through travel brochures while enjoying a regional treat together.
  8. Listen to old comedy shows or radio shows while snacking on popcorn.
  9. Toss bottle caps into a bucket while drinking a bottle of rootbeer.
  10. Play frisbee or another tailgating game outside where you can feel the sunshine on your skin and listen to sounds outside.

When you get to know your residents, you can plan sensory experiences based on their previous history and preferences. It won’t matter if they are male or female! However, it can be helpful to have supplies and experiences on hand that a small group of male residents may enjoy to do together. This way, you won’t be scrambling to give them a sensory experience.

I’d love to hear about any male-centric sensory experiences that work in your community, or about any sensory experience that was a surprising hit among your male residents!

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Comments   Post a Comment

deb 15th Jan 2024 Diversional Therapist
We had a group of our male residents sand back and repaint all our garden seats. It was great for them to interact with each other and they were very proud of the new look for the garden seats all around our facility.
CGV 27th Aug 2022 Recreation and Rehab Manager
Classic Car Show Sat Sept 17 in our community.
A bus ride to see the car show (Independent Living folks)

A vintage car parade through town driving slowly past the care homes and senior villages takes place each year in the later afternoon.

A vintage car discussion; with the two themed Golden Carers Activities https://www.goldencarers.com/name-the-car-logos-visual-quiz/5874/
And coloring vintage and classic car pages: (color pencil, crayon; waterpaints, or oil pastels).

Susan 30th Aug 2022 Activity Director
Wow Darla
This sounds like a great program
You are very lucky to have this
The Herons 14th Jun 2022
Some of our gentlemen enjoyed getting spanners and wrenches shiney again with Autosol metal polish which has a distinctive smell.
Sherrie 4th May 2022 Executive Director
These are great ideas I also will be trying them. thank you. Men are very hard to plan activities for, so all ideas are welcome.
Susan 4th May 2022 Activity Director
Hi Sherrie
It can be difficult to get men involved
These are great ideas
Thank you for sharing your thoughts
Andrea 3rd May 2022 Carer
This is great…. Do you have any activities for men who used to race cars? Bingo with cars?
Talita 3rd May 2022
Hi Andrea,

We have a few car themed activities, like:

and some more if you go to the category for men and then filter for 'car':

A car bingo is a wonderful idea! We'll get to work on it!
Susan 21st Jun 2021 Activity Director
Hi Bill
I agree
Is a good idea to get the veterans involved
Bill 21st Jun 2021
Try focusing on your Veterans once in awhile. Try to get them to think about Induction Day when they had to get their physical and pack up to go to Boot Camp. Also, get them to talk and reflect about the time they spent in Boot Camp, and then once they got to their first Duty Station.
Susan 27th Mar 2021 Activity Director
Hi Linda
Thank you for sharing this
Linda 25th Mar 2021 Recreation Therapist
I find footy tipping for the entire season is very time consuming. I do footy tipping only on the main games and make payouts for those games featured for footy tipping all tips are gathered the game played and the winners paid it's is $1 to play per tip
It's quick it engages those playing as well as those watching the tippers picks
Angela 22nd Mar 2021 Support Worker
Thanks for the positive comments. I find using the footy or any club season as an anchor for other activities encourages communication in a fun and relaxed atmosphere where we don't judge, we just enjoy everyone's company as they all have something to offer. It also gives the guys something to look forward to each week and it encourages them to keep engaged with what happens through the week by following any player changes on the news. All levels can engage.
The interesting thing I also note, is when their families realize what we are doing, they often rush out and buy the jerseys as they know it would increase their joy being part of their footy following group.
Kae 20th Mar 2021 Manager Lifestyle
Thankyou very helpful
Susan 17th Mar 2021 Activity Director
Hi Angela
Thanks for sharing this information
It sounds like a lot of fun
Angela 16th Mar 2021 Support Worker
When we watch specific footy matches where we know our residents follow the team, we encourage the residents to put on their club jerseys and listen to the tv while sipping on a small can of beer, have some nibbles and talk about the players and listen along with the commentary. We have a large whiteboard of all the teams displayed where we add the points each week. We use the footy season as an anchor to provide other activities from., eg tossing a football around in a group, playing cards that have their favourite players on them.
Sally 16th Mar 2021 Lifestyle Coordinator
Wow! These are great suggestions, our dementia specific wing is predominantly male and not all are at the same level of cognitive decline. Thank you for these small group activities.
Ann 16th Mar 2021 HCA
Some great ideas here that I certainly will try... thanks
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