Each May, Older Americans Month recognizes the contributions of older Americans. First proclaimed in 1976 by President Gerald Ford, OAM focuses on increasing awareness of elder abuse and neglect and maintaining the overall health of older adults by helping them get involved in their community and in activities. This year the theme for Older Americans Month is, Connect, Create, Contribute
As a music therapist who works with older adults, I use music to maintain and improve the health and well-being of my clients. While I do this through a variety of activities, a central theme of improving connections, fostering creativity, and allowing people to contribute runs throughout my work.
4 Music Activities to Foster Connections with Older Adults
Last month I wrote a blog post on the benefit music has on brain health. Singing will result in many of the same benefits. With so many songs to choose from, how do you choose what to sing? Here is a Songs By Decade PDF of popular songs by decade to get you started.
- Playing Instruments
Many people, especially older adults, shy away from the idea of playing instruments. This is especially true if they have never “learned” to play an instrument in the past. But using instruments to make connections does not have to be scary. Here is a 5 part video series I did using a variety of instruments with older adults.
Songwriting can be as simple and non-threatening or as complex as you make it. But it is a fun way to help older adults use their creativity and express themselves. Here is a simple fill-in-the-blank song writing idea based on Mad Libs that I shared in a previous post.
- Musical Games
Playing games is a great way to foster social connection, enhance creativity and allow for individual contributions (especially in team games). One easy game to play is Name That Tune (visit my YouTube Channel for a variety of playlists based on themes). For a fun team game try Baseball Jeopardy
Looking for more ideas? Download my 2019 Planning Guide for National Skilled Nursing Care Week—a 14 page guide filled with music activities to use with older adults.