The late Dick Clark reminded us that “Music is the soundtrack of your life.”
There’s just something about a song that brings people together. Bridging generation gaps and uniting folks from all different walks of life, music creates a special bond and provides a very unique kind of therapy of its own. The residents at Coventry Meadows Assisted Living (in Fort Wayne, IN) tend to agree, and as it turns out, they aren’t the only ones!
The Generations class offered by Happy Keys is a multi-generational music program creating new relationships between assisted living residents and families in the local community. Now in its second year, the program allows residents to share joy through songs, instruments, and maybe even a few games with children and their parents. Perhaps the most magical moments of the entire program are the new “Grandfriends” created when new friends, both young and old, find that special bond over that special song. Sometimes, the residents’ own family even stops by to join in on the fun! But don’t think that the benefits stop there. Music has been shown to provide a variety of health benefits to the senior living community.
The Benefits of Music For Senior Living Residents
According to research from Johns Hopkins Medicine, music not only reduces anxiety, blood pressure and pain, but it also helps to improve mood, sleep quality, memory, and mental alertness. “If you want to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool. It provides a total brain workout.” A recent study also conducted at Johns Hopkins found that group singing improved quality of life as well as voice strength and clarity in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
For seniors battling Alzheimer’s and dementia, listening to music can be incredibly beneficial. In addition to aiding cognitive function, a study from the University of Miami School of Medicine confirms that music therapy increases levels of melatonin, serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine and prolactin. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America quotes, “When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and coordinate motor movements.”
Where Words Fail, Music Speaks
Walking into a Generations class at Coventry Meadows, it’s hard to miss the smiles and warm hugs filling the room. Everyone from the senior living residents to the visiting babies and toddlers and even their parents are drawn in and look forward to the weekly interactions. Sara Reese brings her son Brody to class in Fort Wayne and has this to say about Generations:
“It is kind of surreal how Brody just felt drawn to Dan,” explains Sara. “When [Brody] met him, he immediately said ‘This isn’t Dan; this is Grandpa!’”
In the last class, Brody sat in the chair next to Dan and they sang the “Hello Song” together. One day, when Brody was feeling like he didn’t want to go to class, I reminded him that ‘Grandpa Dan’ would be there—and that got him right out the door! Dan is his home base.”
Team members have noticed these bonds as well. Dan is a resident at Coventry Meadows Assisted Living and according to Deanna Jackson, “Dan’s friendship with Brody couldn’t have come at a better time. Dan started attending the class after his wife passed away, and for whatever reason, Brody was drawn to him like a magnet. It was almost like Brody knew it was something that Dan needed.”
At American Senior Communities, we care about our senior living residents. We care about quality of life, and about stories that need to be told, and about creating new relationships with and for our residents. While we continue to work together to battle diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, we’ll also continue to provide innovative lifestyle programs like Generations that benefit our residents (and our community!) in so many ways. Click here to learn more about our Thrive Lifestyle Program.