Sing-a-Longs Offer Creative Outlets for Seniors and Family Members
We read quite a bit about the benefits of music therapy and art therapy for aging parents with dementia.
Are they effective therapies for dementia sufferers? The studies remain unclear on the outcomes, but we know from personal experiences that music and creative outlets have a way of reducing stress and tension, lowers blood pressure and are thought to improve memory and recall ability. And, we all know that a little bit of dancing can improve our coordination —- right?
Here are a few suggestions on how to introduce music to your everyday care giving routine:
1. Sing along while making meals or driving in the car. There are plenty of Oldies stations that spin the songs we all remember.
2. What about digging out the old vinyl albums that your parents played? There’s probably a good selection of Tijuana Brass or Frank Sinatra hidden away in the corner of a closet. Playing old, familiar songs can improve moods and generate good conversation starters.
3. Try quizzing one another on old song titles or the artist.
4. How about making a little bit of music on your own? Have you tried shaking a bell or tapping a tambourine in tune to the music?
5. A bit of dancing, stretching or chair exercises is a wonderful way to keep time to some of the favorite tunes.
And, what about art therapy? Focusing on art doesn’t necessarily mean donning a smock and breaking out the oils at the easel. Many art therapies are basic projects that can be done in the home with materials that are on hand or easy to gather from outdoors.
1. When was the last time you had a coloring session at home? A box of crayons and butcher paper is all it takes.
2. How about identifying geometric patterns in your family quilts? Most quilt patterns feature triangles, squares, diamonds and other common shapes.
3. Floral arranging is easy to do when the spring blooms are available in your own garden.
4. Baking heightens the senses by focusing on taste, smell, touch and sight.
5. Today’s digital cameras make photography a “snap”!
Many senior centers feature musical and craft programs. If your loved one is able to leave home for a few hours a week, enrolling in a senior-oriented program may be a great way for the two of you to master your skills together.
In Houston, ARTReach focuses on music and art therapies for seniors and other groups.