Music Therapy

December 30, 2016

·Activities, Residents

Activities at Arbutus consist of many, many things…but music is one of the favorites.  Music therapy in recent years offers a bright new option for dementia treatment.  Music can help a resident tap into lost memories, help them escape the feeling of isolation brought on by dementia.   It can be chorus, hymn sings, name that tune, kitchen band, sit and stretch to those oldies but goodies, individualized 1 to 1 visits with a staff members playing the keyboard, accordion, etc.  When I look out over the group of residents and see them singing a song, it makes me smile and makes them feel happy when they realize they remembered the “whole” song.   Music is total enjoyment.

The highlighted activity for today was Kitchen Band.  This time there were 25 to 28 residents participating in the band.    Our residents love to pound out various tunes, this time, Christmas songs.  They play such instruments as washboards, cupcake pans, pie plates, tambourines, bells, pots and pans, metal bowls and use spoons as drumsticks.  The smiles are plentiful, the tune well….if you listen close enough you can catch the tune.  It gives them the opportunity to act silly, get out some frustration by pounding out a tune on a pie plate.  It’s one of the simpler activities we do, but it is well loved.  The smiles and belly laughs are plentiful.

On a more “professional note” we also have a bell choir made up of 12 to 15 residents.  They are also known as “The Arbutus Merry Ringers”.   The group takes their rehearsal time very seriously.  They played this year for our Home for the Holidays event in the lobby and attracted quite the crowd.  Later in the month they had the opportunity to play with “The Flash” Saint Francis University Men’s Basketball team for some carol singing in the chapel.  Again a good time was had by all.   The Merry Ringers will be performing in the future during chapel service and other events.

In the future I would like to see our department become certified in Music Therapy.   There is a Music and Memory Certification Program, that teaches how to maximize the usefulness of music with the elderly.  People who might not recognize family members, actually “awaken” and sing along to the music they hear.   A restless, agitated resident finds comfort in listening to music from days gone by.   It is a fantastic thing for family members and caregivers to see this, it gives them satisfaction that their loved one is finding comfort in the music.

In the meantime you can find us banging on pots and pans and having a blast.  Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!  All you need are some pots, pans and a tune. -mf

Contributor: Melinda Frye is the Activities Director at Arbutus