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Have you ever worked with a resident who was irritable or pessimistic? It’s common to have a few residents who may think that all of your activities are silly or not worth their time. Here’s how to make your interactions more productive and pleasant.
7 Reasons Why Residents May Be Negative About Activities
Everyone’s personality is unique, and sometimes people are predisposed to being more irritable or pessimistic than others. Your residents each have their own personality and it is your role to embrace theirs without changing it.
However, residents may also be a bit pessimistic or negative in regards to activities for other reasons:
- Sadness due to a recent loss of ability, home situation, or friend/family relationship
- Embarrassment about their own abilities or challenges
- Depression or anxiety
- Feeling lonely or insecure about their ability to make new friends
- Trying to deal with their own medical condition or future
- Personality changes due to cognitive decline, Parkinson’s disease, or other diagnosis
- Tendency to feel more comfortable alone
16 Ways to Encourage Activity Participation
If you are running into issues while inviting residents who are grouchy or pessimistic to activities, you can try a few tactics to see if you can entice them to join a group or other interaction.
- Invite them to attend Resident Council or Activity Planning Committee; let them know their opinion and input matter to you
- Ask them to attend a small group activity to see if that gets a better response than asking them to a huge community event
- Invite visiting family members or friends to join the activity with the resident
- Tell them the benefits of joining activities for their personal physical, mental, and emotional health
- Remind them they can always leave if they aren’t having fun or learning anything new
- Ask them to write down a few activity ideas they would like to attend; then, see if they may want to lead any of those groups
- Dive deeper into their leisure history to determine if what you are currently offering could be improved to include their past favorites
- Bulk up your independent leisure cart to match their favorite activities
- Make an extra effort to be kind and touch base with them daily, even if it is just to bring a cup of coffee and say hello
- Don’t force a happy or positive interaction while you are with them; allow them to talk about their feelings
- If you notice a significant decline in their mood or behaviors, inform management
- Work with the social work team to see if a support group could be a positive activity pursuit
- Invite them to plan an outing or to suggest ideas for upcoming local trips
- Highlight a particular hobby or skill the resident has and ask them to lead a group about it
- Ask the resident to write a newsletter article every few months or even a community blog
- Encourage gratitude in small ways with the resident
Remember, not everyone likes group activities and that is okay. You might find it easier for some residents to attend small group activities or events that focus on silence or meditation.
When They Still Won’t Participate
Never give up on asking a resident to attend activities; even if they don’t attend, you never know what positive boost they get from simply being invited. However, if a resident consistently declines group activities, you need to meet their leisure needs in new and inventive ways:
- Supply them with independent leisure materials regularly, like yarn for crocheting or WiFi for their smartphone
- Document your daily stop-in visits as well as what items they take from your independent leisure supply stash
- Document their family/friend visits
- Implement personalized 1:1 activities three times per week if they are not getting healthy socialization or leisure participation in any other ways (like those interventions listed above)
Most importantly, if you are working with a resident who is a bit grouchy or pessimistic when it comes to your activities, don’t take it personally. You don’t have to scrap your entire activity calendar because one resident made you feel bad about it!
Instead, take a genuinely honest look at your overall calendar to ensure you are meeting the needs of your residents and consider adding a few new suggestions per month. Don’t get down on yourself or your program after your visits with those grouchy residents. You are doing a great job and while everyone can improve, your activity calendar is not a direct reflection on who you are as a person or as a Director.
What is Your Experience?
I’d love to hear about any grouchy or pessimistic resident stories and how you turned them around! Tell me about them in the comments.
I can recall working with a certain resident for MONTHS before I finally realized he liked sports jokes. I’m not a sports fan, but I printed out a bunch of sports-themed jokes and kept them on my desk so that I always had a new one for him first thing in the morning. He still didn’t come to any of my group activities, but at least I knew I won him over with the jokes, and that was well worth the time!