Break the Silence in Their Golden Years: Give Your Aging Parent the Gift of Music
I was talking with my friend Deb today. She recently shared my CD Songs You Know by Heart
with her mom. The CD is loaded with 18 old-time favorites and includes hits like You Are My Sunshine, Side by Side and Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree. She was sure her mom would love it.
But guess what? Deb’s mom didn’t have any way to play it.
Fortunately, Deb’s brother, who lives with their mom, went out and bought her a CD player. Deb’s mom then called her to say, “I’ve been listening to Mary Sue sing on her CD and I’ve had such a great day.”
Deb looked at me kind of funny as she was telling me this and said, “Wow! Who knew it could be so easy to make my mom happy and give her a good day.”
Deb’s comment got me to thinking. Do your parents or the older people in your life have access to the music they love, the music of their youth?
Difficulties in Accessing Music
We know that when a baby is born most people go to great lengths to surround their little ones with music. We just know that music is soothing and can make them happy.
Why is it that we don’t put the same emphasis on making sure our parents have access to music?
Do your parents hop on their computers or iPods or smart phones or access music the same way we do? Probably not. Do they even have a CD player? I’m sure some do. But for many, music has actually become harder to access.
Technology has changed so much that the term “new fangled” is barely adequate!
I’m pretty sure that if your iPod or your smart phone or your CD player stopped working, you would miss the role music plays in your life.
For many seniors, music has gone out of their lives, right at a time when it could be so beneficial. A simple Google search will open the door to volumes of research. Over and over, studies are showing the impact of music on memory, well-being and health. It’s all very compelling. Did you know that brain imaging has shown that music lights up more areas of the brain than any other human activity?
But on top of all that, everyone knows that the right music can make you just plain happy! And who doesn’t want that? There’s research about music and happiness, too.
Bringing Back the Music to Your Aging Parents – A Dozen Easy Suggestions
Can you help someone you care about gain access to the music they love? Can you bring back the music for their golden years?
Here’s is a list of a dozen easy suggestions for how you can do just that. Let me know how it goes!
First of all, go to my website and sign up to receive my free e-Book Finding Memories Through Music – A Family Interview. Use it to research what type of music your loved one enjoys. Personal preferences are important.
Start a personal collection of music for them in whatever format works best. CDs, iPod, record albums (yes, they’re still around), radio stations, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube.
Do your parents or grandparents still have a record player? If so, dust it off and play those records! Or buy one of the inexpensive models now available. Records are actually making a comeback and you are sure to be able to find many of the old albums that your parents or grandparents know and enjoy.
Plan a record party where the older adults share their favorite records with the younger folks in your family. Then, let the young folks share their favorites, too.
No record player? Provide a CD player that is easy to operate. Make sure you show them how to use it. Color code the key functions if necessary. Or write out the instructions. A comfortable set of headphones – rather than ear buds – can be helpful, too.
Purchase an iPod and headphones, load it with their favorite music and teach them how to use it.
If your older adult uses the computer, spend some time introducing them to Pandora or Spotify. If they are a bit more tech savvy, show them how to buy songs on iTunes so they can add to their own collections.
If you are helping to choose an assisted living residence for your loved one, find out if they provide music! If the residence where your family member lives doesn’t have a music program, offer to sponsor one. Get together with other families and share the cost.
Take the older adult in your life to concerts and music events. There are many opportunities to attend free school concerts, as well as ticketed events.
Help your family member find a radio station or a TV channel that plays music they like. Tune it in for them, then write down the call numbers or channel so they can listen regularly.
If your loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, use music as a way to connect, awaken memories and bring joy. To learn more about this, purchase my book “Songs You Know By Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care.” Enter the code 6060 for a 20% discount when you buy it from my website. This discount will be good through April, 2017.
Plan a family sing along! There’s nothing like singing together in a group. Print out some simple song sheets so everyone has the lyrics. My website has song guides organized by decades and genres as well as lyrics to many, many songs.
Are there any songs that you and your family love to sing together? What songs and music from their youth do your parents or the older people in your life enjoy? Which of these tips have you already tried? Please share your story in the comments.
Mary Sue Wilkinson is the founder of Singing Heart to Heart. She is a musician, a speaker and the author of “Songs You Know By Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care.” She is passionate about the power of music. Learn more at SingingHeartToHeart.com.