I’ve known Janet, co-founder of Bear Paw Creek for a very long time now and my relationship with her has caused me to be more aware of the role of music and movement in therapy for people of all ages.
One therapy I’ve been researching and would love to hear more about is the role of memory care in people with dementia. Memory Care facilities take into account both the physical safety of the resident and the continuing mental and emotional wellbeing of the person. It costs more to have a family member stay in a Memory Care facility, but the increase in cost comes with an increase in benefits to your loved one.
Games, music, and other activities, take into account the memories, loves, and abilities, of elderly people being cared for. This is also done in most nursing homes, in portions of many hospitals, in senior activity centers, and can be intentionally planned with in-home care as well.
As I type this, I think of my grandmother who has passed away and the tender care she got from a nursing facility and two of my aunts. I also think of a dear friend whose mother is dealing with Alzheimer’s, and how much her family loves her and how well they care for her. The third person I think of is a dear friend who watched her husband go through Alzheimer’s the last few years of his life. The weight of all of that love and loss makes it impossible for me to contemplate it without tears in my eyes.
This, then, is why memory care professionals pique my interest. Memory care, calls to my mind respect for the memories still able to be accessed and enjoyed… The songs, the images, and events which are still vivid when other memories are hidden under the blanket a fog.
In memory care, you enter into the world of the person who has dementia and you meet them there, on their terms, rather than expecting them to meet you in a place they can no longer relate to. Memory care also involves creating opportunities to take part in activities which have a low frustration level for the people you are working with.
Someone who can’t recognize faces and names may well remember how to play the piano, paint with a paint brush, or cut up fruit for a salad. These activities both stimulate the neuropathways and increase levels of pleasure while reducing feelings of isolation and anger.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of popular Christmas songs and artists from the 40’s 50’s and 60’s to be used by those planning an enjoyable time of recreation for residents of nursing homes or senior activity centers. I’ll give you a list of Youtube links as well as some links to great album choices of CDs or downloads. If you have a record player… well, you just might want to start hunting on Craigslist and garage sales for some great oldies to play (I saw record players for sale in a store last month… They’re coming back?).
Host a Christmas dance for an elder care activity, complete with records and a vintage record player.
You can find record players on Amazon, They’re called “turn tables”, and you can even get a Victrola Nostalgic Classic, which residents of your elder care facility may enjoy seeing and having around. For the guests who can’t get up and dance, provide Movement Scarves, Streamers or Jingle Bells for their wrists, so they can dance with their arms and hands, or simply let them soak in the scene and enjoy the music.
Here are a list of records you can purchase in time for a Christmas party (if you get right on it.)
If buying a record player and records isn’t in the budget this year, here are some other ways to bring Christmas music to your memory care activities.