Every Thursday at Ridgmar Place independent living community in Fort Worth, TX, residents gather in the dining area for a friendly and fun happy hour cocktail.

“I have worked in activities for years,” said Rachel Williams, life enrichment director at Ridgmar, “and I have learned that the elderly just want to have fun.” 

Williams said that with this in mind, she tries to stretch residents’ imaginations with out-of-the-box ideas. After seeing some temporary tattoos, she had the idea of pairing tattoos with Ridmar’s regularly scheduled happy hour, calling it “booze and tattoos.” The June event was so successful that it inspired tattoos for future occasions, such as the community’s July 4 celebration earlier this month.

While they were walking to the front of the dining hall to get their Thursday drinks, residents were given the option of getting a temporary tattoo. Small temporary tattoos were available for the more hesitant participants, with larger designs ready for those a bit bolder.

“All it takes is one person,” Williams explained. Once a few of the braver older adults received temporary designs, she said, the next thing she knew, all of the residents were eagerly telling their friends about the tattoos and encouraging others to participate.

It’s the same as college students going to a party,” she joked. “You just need the first one to do something, and then it’s going to sell itself.”

Some residents chose to don tattoos for sentimental reasons — such as one woman who wore an anchor for her son in the navy — whereas others wore bugs, celebrities and other designs for the fun of it.

Those tattoos were not just on their arms, but all over their bodies, including the neck and thigh.

One resident, Jane, said that she had more fun with the temporary tattoo being on her thigh than on her arm because it was a  great conversation-starter.

“They had a ball,” Williams laughed, adding that some residents refused to wash off their tattoos until they had the chance to show their family members visiting in the following days.

Events such as these offer the chance to see a different side of the residents and connect on a deeper level, Williams said.

I think that people don’t realize how important it is for this age group to be around friends,” she said, emphasizing that even in retirement, it is always important for people to find a community of peers where they can share a laugh.

Williams said that if she were to do it again, she would definitely get a lot more tattoos with more variety so she could be sure to spread the fun to all the residents.

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