Activities At Assisted Living: Not Just Bingo

Posted by: Maryellen McKeon, Senior Vice President of Operations

Dear Maryellen,

Tips to Find an Active Assisted Living Community

Over the last year, it has become obvious to me that my mother needs the support of a senior living community. She is isolated and alone a lot of the time. While it hasn’t been easy to accept, I really believe selling her home and helping her move is the right decision. The problem is my brother. He is opposed to even discussing the idea with her. My brother thinks she will be even more depressed around “old people” who don’t do much more than play Bingo and watch television in the lobby all day. His attitude is so frustrating to me. How can I help him understand that socialization with others at an assisted living will help our mother overcome her loneliness?  -Megan A

Dear Megan,

First, you should know that conflict among siblings is very common when it comes to caring for an aging parent. Adult children often struggle to come to an agreement on this decision. But you are right in believing that life enrichment is one of the benefits of an assisted living community. Having neighbors of a similar age to talk with each day, as well as activities and outings to enjoy can definitely help overcome the loneliness many seniors feel. Just being free from the burdens of maintaining a home may help to lift your mother’s spirits.

It sounds like your brother hasn’t been to an assisted living before and is relying on old-fashioned stereotypes. Those out-of-date ideas can be frightening. My first suggestion would be to request a few months of activity calendars and newsletters from the assisted living communities near your mother. Sharing those with your brother might help to paint a different picture for him.

Then I would recommend you try to schedule a visit to an assisted living community or two with your brother. It will give him the opportunity to see how vibrant senior living really is. You are just as likely to see art classes, current event discussions and a writing club meeting on your visit as you are to see Bingo!

I hope these suggestions help you and your brother find a senior care solution that meets your mother’s needs. Best of luck to your family.


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Over the course of more than thirty years, Maryellen has distinguished herself in the field of Assisted Living, and has maintained a particular focus on enhancing operations in Independent and Enriched Housing Management. At times, Maryellen has simultaneously overseen over 29 communities throughout the Northeast. She was awarded Administrator of the Year in 1990 by the Empire State Association – being recognized for upholding quality care, compassion and high professional standards – and has become a visible and respected authority in the field. Throughout her tenure with the Association, she has also co-chaired its Assisted Living Services Committee along with its Conference Committee. Maryellen joined Engel Burman in 2001 and helped establish Ultimate Care NY, LLC, the team responsible for the development, construction and daily management of twelve upscale Assisted Living communities grouped under the well-known and highly respected name of The Bristal. A committed advocate and sought after speaker for the cause of senior living issues, Maryellen has served on the Board of ESAAL (Empire State Association of Assisted Living) since 2002, and today, she continues to play high-profile roles in many of the Association’s most important initiatives and influential committees.