A couple of years ago a documentary came out entitled, ‘Alive Inside,’ showing what hugely positive impact music can have for the elderly. Places like the Dry Harbor Nursing Home and other facilities for the elderly have been using different art outlets for their patients for a long time. They are already very well away of the benefits. But this documentary educated the masses; it showed how an elderly lady had not been responding more than ‘I’m sorry I don’t remember’ to any question posed, until she was fitted with an iPod, that literally changed her life.
Music, dance, movement, and any artistic outlet can really be a huge benefit to the elderly and to their quality of life. Initiatives such as the Music and Memory Project (which provides iPods to the elderly) and Dances for a Variable Population Program (led by Naomi Goldberg Haas) in New York City are great examples of how artistic outlets can be of huge benefit to seniors.
Then there is the Movement Speaks initiative. This provides free sequential dance instruction classes to individuals in low income communities. A 75-minute session is comprised of warm-up, dance exercises, individual and group dance improvisation, memorization of basic movement phrases and cool down. Participants get the opportunity to create their own movement styles that can be used for performances that occur at the end of the course, in the presence of the surrounding community.
In Queens, seniors can benefit from a programs at the SFY Neighborhood Senior Center. Funded by the New York City Department for the Aging, seniors can enjoy educational programs, recreation activities and more. There are also a variety of artistic workshops on offer, ranging from ceramic making, drawing, jewelry making and sketching.
And seniors should not be concerned if they don’t always do great the first time. As Stephen Richards noted, “the only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down.” Just get up and try again!