A music therapy program created for isolated seniors brought a little groove out of a few White Rock and Surrey residents recently.
The Heart for Music Program provides music equipment, including tablets, headphones and iPods, as well as customized playlists, Spotify accounts and music therapy, to seniors in non-profit care homes throughout B.C.
Created in 2019 by the Surrey-based Rick’s Heart Foundation, the program grew from a recognition of the benefits music brought to seniors living with dementia. Foundation founder Rick Diamond saw the impact in his own father, noticing that music “brought life back into his eyes, he became more alert to his surroundings, and the spark returned,” a news release explains.
Heart for Music BC started with a seniors care home that had been hard-hit by the pandemic, with around 15 deaths in just a few days. Overnight, the music program “changed the atmosphere in the seniors centre,” the release continues.
Since then, it’s been used at sites including Peace Arch Hospital, the Evergreen Baptist campus, Kinsmen Lodge, Elim Village and Zion Park Manor.
Volunteers work with residents to create personal playlists, identifying favourite songs and artists with help from staff and family.
According to a foundation spokesperson, Peace Arch Hospital staff reported a decrease in anxiety in patients that listen to music. One who has trouble communicating verbally was able to sing along word for word to the Tennessee Waltz, Pam Hamilton shared in a thank you to the foundation.
At Elim Lodge, a new resident would start singing along and dancing when she began listening to music. And at Evergreen, music moved Jessie, a 92-year-old resident, to bust out some moves.
Research shows that listening to music, singing and dancing can bring comfort and joy to seniors living with all types of dementia, the release notes; it can also relieve stress, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce agitation and improve connection for those who have difficulty communicating.
Heart for Music BC has visited care homes in more than 39 locations across B.C. To sponsor a residence, volunteer, donate equipment, play live music or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter