How To Better Serve Baby Boomers As An Activity Director?

Sub-acute guests, those who are short term, usually recuperating from a surgery or procedure, are an obstacle for activity directors.

They’re significantly younger than most long term patients, usually falling in the Baby Boomer (51-69) age bracket. For many of them, it’s their first major trip to a rehabilitation facility outside of a standard hospital.

It is understandable why many are hesitant to join in activities. Beyond the age difference, most are recuperating from painful surgeries, others know they’re only a few weeks from being back home – so they’re not looking to socialize, while others are independent and good at keeping themselves occupied.

I decided to do some research and ask baby boomers what they would want to do if they had to be admitted for sub-acute care. I reached out to the Facebook Page, “Baby Boomers Rock- A National Movement” which has over 20,000 members.

I was taken aback by how willing the group was to share ideas. Here are some highlights:


They like to be connected!

Not shockingly, most baby boomers are coming in for temporary re-cooperation and aren’t necessarily interested in the socialization that long term residents are. Plus, most of them still have their smart phones to stay in touch with family and friends, play games and surf the internet.

Many boomers stated whatever facility they go to, they MUST have free WIFI.

One way we can help them is by having everything set up.

In your welcome packets:

  • Share your facilities public Wi-Fi information (as long as that is approved by your administrator).

  • If your facility doesn’t have public Wi-Fi, it is something to consider given it is in high demand with potential clients.

  • Have a list of tv channels. Many baby boomers shared that they would like current, up to date films. Going to a flea market and stocking up on dvds is a great way of building a movie library.

  • You can also have a list of recommended time killing apps. Sudoku, Crossword, etc. Ask co-workers what they like and have it listed as well as steps for downloading it through the App Store/ Google Play. (tip: You can make it more social by having a scoreboard and having sub-acute guests compete for the top space! It allows them to feel like a part of a group without having to get out of their rooms.)

They also like to keep it old school

As high tech as boomers are, they still like their traditional word searches, crosswords, Sudoku, etc. Try to have plenty available for them in their room, as well as pencils! Try to include these items in your first visit with guests!

They like having the activity come to them

Having an activity cart is a great investment! You can have daily themes like root beer float day, 50’s Malted Shakes and 1950s word search.

In my experience daily activity carts have been very successful! Have a few newspapers on your cart, crosswords, word searches, as well as books.

Other ideas include having decks of playing cards, adult coloring pages with colored pencils and having traveling musicians playing throughout the hallway and visiting guests.

People also stated how much they enjoyed pet therapy during sub-acute stays.

Everyone loves good food

Ice cream socials were highly rated when asked what programs sub-acute guests would come out of their room to attend. Carolyn C. , one baby boomer surveyed states “ Snacks would be great! I used to get so hungry between meals when I was in the hospital.” Collette B. says “Snacks are good any time. Root beer floats would be nice .” She also stated that she enjoys crafts and makes cards out of photos. Providing crafting materials is a big plus.

Programs suggested by baby boomers

Donna A. suggests : Old movie night with treats/ Netflix Binge Watch Day.

Danita H. suggests: Have a white elephant gift exchange with gifts provided by the center.

Rick K. suggests: Having musicians for sub-acute.

Karen L. suggests: A manicure or light hand massage.

Jere Lynn P. suggests: Sharing personal food recipes and tasting them. Have music with sing along sheets.

Other activities suggested include: Making picture puzzles, putting together care packages for our troops, jeopardy and trivia, and cookie tasting parties.