Home | Clinical Focus | Music, old and new, encourages older people to stay active
Photo: ACH Group

Music, old and new, encourages older people to stay active

Staying active can be a challenge for most people, but one group that may find this more cumbersome are older people or those with dementia.

ACH Group has started a program where residents are offered music-based exercise classes to encourage them to remain engaged.

Dementia co-design consultant Jodie Roberts said doing group exercise sessions that are light-hearted proved to be a success.

“It really shows how important movement and music are for people living with dementia,” Roberts said.

The class is run by the home’s personal trainer Denis Pick, whose mother, Ruth, became a resident at the facility in 2009.

Pick heads to the home equipped with hula hoops, balls and stretch bands, as well as a CD loaded with music that crosses cultures and eras.

The music used includes Jimmy Barnes, Justin Timberlake, and Arabic and Irish traditional music, along with Ed Sheeran and Elvis Presley.

Roberts said she initially wanted the program to focus on ‘old school’ music, however Pick had other plans to use more modern sounds.

He said the team started using music as a way to energise and animate people and found the different types got varied responses. “I find that when I play music from the 1940s, it elicits an emotional response, whereas if you play ACDC or Cold Chisel, you’ll get a physical response – people will move their feet and clap and respond to the rhythm,” he explained.

Roberts said she wasn’t confident about going down that path, but added: “I need to eat humble pie – it works.” Aged Care Insite spoke with her to hear more about the responses the different types of music evoke and what plans the provider has to expand the program.

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  1. Loved the story ..
    I work as a lifestyle assistant and love doing exercises with our residents.
    They also love chair yoga .. relaxation exercises and meditation .
    Our residents enjoy movement and exercise to songs they know and everything that was mentioned in the above story is so true.
    Residents with dementia have a lot to give and want to feel empowered and that is what exercise and music together does for them it makes them valued .

  2. fantastic story, not only recognising the amazing work that Denis did as a volunteer, and now as a staff member, but also such an accurately told how music can reach people with dementia.
    Also shows how music awakens the senses and promotes physical engagement too.
    Well done