Music to Seniors’ Ears

Music helps Betty* start her day on a happy note. A resident at Tiffin House, the senior’s memory loss had made her reluctant to shower — until team member Vicky Latour began serenading Betty every morning. “Music makes the routine more fun and enjoyable,” says April Lawson, Life Enrichment Coordinator at the BayBridge Senior Living community in Midland, Ontario.

Besides meals, music attracts the biggest crowds at our retirement residences. How do we indulge a love of music among seniors? Let us count the ways.

Vicky uses music to help residents come back to life

Soothing tunes

Vicky and staff at Tiffin House use songs to calm agitated memory-care residents. One in particular responds well to music and dancing: the man’s son is a former Olympic figure skater. “Vicky uses music to help residents come back to life,” says April.

Celebrations galore

If there’s a party, you can bet we’ll be playing tunes: solo singers, guitarists, pianists, choirs, live bands and deejays all make appearances to celebrate happy hour, birthdays and holidays like Oktoberfest and St. Patrick’s Day.

Music therapy

At Maison Calgary, one music therapist plays guitar and sings along with groups of residents, while another therapist performs in the rooms of seniors who can’t leave their suites. One resident with a fractured hip was bedridden for two weeks and became quite bored and depressed. “She was delighted to have one-on-one music,” says Life Enrichment Coordinator Samantha Hibbert. “The music really lifted her spirits.”

Hymn singing

A weekly sing-along with a local pastor proved so popular at Okanagan Chateau that Life Enrichment Coordinator Niki Jensen started a Sunday singing group with another resident.

Music appreciation

A volunteer at Maison Calgary takes time to introduce each piece before playing it on the piano, cuing the residents on what to listen for. The Marleigh in Unionville, Ontario hosts popular music appreciation seminars and performances ranging from opera and swing to music of the 60s and the early 20th century.

Local favourites

The residents at Okanagan Chateau especially enjoy performances by the Melody Boys, a group that plays piano, accordion and a special accordion that makes more than 300 sounds. “The residents love them so much we book them every month,” says Niki. Another musician hauls drums and tambourines, inviting residents to play along with the beat.

Amateurs and professionals

Maison Calgary takes residents on a field trip twice a month to free lunchtime concerts at a local church. “They have all kinds of musicians: choirs, flamenco, opera, you name it,” says Samantha. Even children’s choirs and high-school bands are a hit at The Marleigh. “It doesn’t matter how talented or not they may be, the residents enjoy seeing the kids play,” says Life Enrichment Coordinator Renée Welch.

Memory lane

One thing is for sure: music brings people together. “They sing along, clap along, tap their feet and they always thank the musicians after performances,” says Samantha. Songs also trigger memories and emotions. “Some cry, others tell stories about going to dances when they were younger, meeting their spouses, hanging out with friends,” says Renée. “Music brings people back in time.”

What’s playing at your local BayBridge Senior Living community? Drop in for a tour and find out today.

*Residents’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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