Beyond the Man Cave.
Statistics show that the number of friends a person has decreases dramatically as they age. The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia in the 1990s to address loneliness among retired men. There are now over 2,500 sheds in a dozen countries, and Ireland is believed to have the most sheds per capita. The sheds have been slower to catch on in the U.S.
Men’s Sheds are places where men get together to build things, help build things, or watch things being built. While that is happening, the men involved ‘bond’ through the social interaction. There are currently 27 men’s sheds in the U.S. They all share the motto “Shoulder to Shoulder”. The sheds are often non-profit local organizations that help the community with their products.
Photo from U.S. Men’s Sheds.org
Aging researchers often report how important having friends and social interactions is for good health. Even interactions with people you don’t know but say hello to regularly, like the person behind the counter at your local coffee shop, are important. Women make deep and lasting friendships and men tend not to. It seems easier for women to share their secrets and confide in one another than it is for men. Women keep up with each other and put time and effort into those relationships. Men make friends within the current contexts of their lives– school, military, jobs. Then, when that episode is over, they often leave the friendships behind. The experts say that men are not as comfortable with vulnerability as women, so they tend not to develop close friendships as easily.
In a 2021 survey of over 2,000 adults in the U.S., less than 50% of the men said they were satisfied with their number of friends and 15% said they had no close friends at all. The amount of reported loneliness worldwide has increased over the past several years. The same survey found that men were less likely than women to share personal feelings with friends or rely upon them for emotional support.
Making friends through activities is a great way for men to make connections. Playing cards, athletic activities and now Men’s Sheds. The Sheds provide a safe atmosphere and give men a purpose and meaning to their lives. There is no pressure to participate in the activities, some men just come for the conversation and camaraderie. Most Sheds become involved in their local communities. Many Sheds adopt a park and maintain benches and other structures. Other sheds work with Meals on Wheels, or the Police Athletic League. There is plenty of community need.
Men who join a Shed tend to have some extra time and available energy in their lives to give to a productive effort, and usually have some experience, skills, creativity, knowledge, or good ideas they can offer. It’s a win-win situation for all.
To find a Shed near you click here.