Music has enormous power. It can motivate. It can soothe. It can make you smile, and move you to tears. It is more accessible now than ever before, and we aren’t using it enough in long term care.
We have seen first-hand how simply turning off the television in a common area and turning on some lively music can completely change the mood of residents. Some songs just make you want to move, and having older adults do just that instead of sitting still for hours on end can have a huge impact on their physical and emotional health. Try turning on some music ten minutes before each meal and asking staff and residents to dance, or clap, or march, or wave their arms!
Music can also be helpful when a resident is anxious and/or resisting care. Try playing soft, calming music while helping a resident with morning care and bathing. Ask a resident’s loved ones to donate an old smartphone or I-pod and load it with the person’s favorite songs or type of music. If they like to wear headphones, ask their loved ones to bring in several inexpensive pairs (discount stores carry these for as little as $4 or $5).
Music can help bring back fond memories and lead to wonderful discussions about them. You might be surprised at how many people with memory loss can still remember the words of their favorite songs from their younger years. Patriotic songs can be especially moving for people of the “greatest generation”, and popular songs from old movies and show tunes are fun to hear too.
Keep in mind that music can be overstimulating for some people with cognitive impairment, so be mindful of this and observe the reactions of residents when music is playing.
Have a great week!