And there my true love sits him down, sits him down,
And drinks his wine as merry as can be,
And never, never thinks of me.
“Tavern in the Town” by Wally Cox
The afternoon started like any other Wednesday. I entered the facility where I meet the same group of seniors each week. Typically all 8 are sitting in a semi circle waiting for me to arrive….but not this day. On March 17, 2010 I began to hear loud laughter as soon as I walked off the elevator. I started down the hall as one of the seniors greeted me half way, leaning in close with a loud voice and a hint of beer on his breath as he said, “JENNIFER IT IS SOOOO GOOD TO SEE YOU. WE ARE READY TO MAKE MUUUSIC.” I almost started laughing as I walked in the room where the 7 other members of the group were holding plastic cups of green drink in celebration of the season.
I turned to the Recreation Therapist and he said, “Jen this is a Seniors Care Centre, not Jail. ” We both smiled and I did my best to rally the group together for their music therapy session of the week. The stories unfolded more readily, the singing was more boisterous and the social relationships were more at ease.
I was once again reminded that as we age, many of the comforts of life change under the rules and regulations of others. Our independence diminishes and it is in moments like having some green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, that an opportunity to reclaim some of what we lost is possible. I feel fortunate that music therapy is another opportunity to do the same – to celebrate a person’s life – a life that is still full of life.
Approximately 15% of music therapists in the USA work with individuals living in nursing homes or other geriatric facilities. And 29% of music therapists work with mature adults and senior citizens. Historically, seniors have been one of the more common groups that music therapists have worked with. This makes sense, given that the U.S. population is getting older and they have more demanding health care needs than younger individuals. Canada is no different. It is a privilege to do this work.
Cheers to St. Patrick! If you have not seen this video before take a moment and watch Seniors Just Wanting to Have Fun!