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Why are assisted living homes all so feminine?

Every place I visited had floral wallpaper, dainty furniture and looked like a women's tea house. Most of the activities were more geared towards women, there were bingo games but no card games, crafts that consisted of making jewelry and frilly pillows. There were options for manicures and pedicures and a beauty salon that again was very feminine. My dad used to be a ranch hand, his favorite hobbies were fishing and tying flies for fishing. His idea of an entertaining evening is watching a John Wayne movie, not Steel Magnolias.
Status: Open    May 29, 2015 - 02:35 PM

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Jun 09, 2015 - 10:15 AM

I have to admit that I got a good laugh from your question. It is a reasonable one, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. What you are experiencing with the decor is what I have always lovingly referred to as the "Grandma's House" design, which was the standard design practice for many years. The simple answer to your question is: the "Grandma's House" design was very popular. Regarding the heart of your question, though, I can give you a couple answers:

First, if the decor is a really grating issue, I would recommend researching newer communities in your area (if there any available). There is a shift away from the older styles and the newer communities generally favor clean lines and some combination of balanced colors. Fewer flowers to be found, at least. You will always find some form of paisley on furniture because busy patterns hide stains.

Second, the decor is the surface of the community. I recommend writing yourself a numbered list of priorities as you search for senior living options. It is reasonable for the decor to be a priority, but balance the pink flowers and dainty furniture with the quality of care that your dad will be receiving. I always recommend trying before you buy and my list would always highly rate: quality of care and food, availability of transportation, sights and smells, etc. For a full list of priorities/questions, take a look at

I hope you find the perfect community for your dad!

Oh, and PS - most activities will always be geared toward women simply because there are more women. However, you ABSOLUTELY should find a community where the activities director and administrator are willing to cater a program to your dad's interests (within reason). If they are unwilling to create a simple card game - maybe one where they take a small bit of time to play a one-on-one game with your dad, you may find that there are more issues below the surface.


Jun 02, 2015 - 08:15 PM

Interesting question. I agree with you that most of the places are feminine.
The place I had placed my husband for Day Care was pretty gender neutral. Pictures of local city from the Historical society. So they were photos of the village form 50 years or more ago. But I have visited people in places that looked just as you describe..not to mention the air freshener that was strong enough to knock you over.
Anyway I guess the real "reason" may be is because women live longer so mor women are in Assisted living facilities. Most men I think are used to saying..I don't care when asked about paint colors, curtains, furniture and the like.
I think the next time you visit an Assisted Living home ask about the decor and if there are any plans to make it more gender neutral. I think with the number of Baby Boomers that are going to be entering them this may be a time to bring the decor from the 19th century into the 20th Century.
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