Music programming can relieve isolation while still enforcing safety measures.
By Amy Jeffs, Status Solutions
Before the pandemic, senior living residents were already dealing with the burdens of social isolation and loneliness. One study even found that over half of residents without cognitive impairment reported feeling lonely. And now that residents are more isolated than ever, it’s only gotten worse. The effects are more than emotional, but can cause many negative consequences such as increased risk of “cognitive decline and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, recurrent stroke, obesity, elevated blood pressure, and mortality.”
With the dangers of COVID-19, in order to best care for their residents, senior living and long-term care communities need to focus on providing residents with fulfilling pastimes that bring them joy and connections to the outside world — all while still keeping their residents safe. One way to do this is to provide residents with access to the music they love.
Over the years many seniors have become disconnected from the activities they once enjoyed, and this is very true when it comes to listening to their favorite music. The radio stopped playing the music they grew up with a long time ago. As technology has evolved, it’s gotten harder for seniors to listen to music in the ways they’re used to.
By providing residents with a way to reconnect with the music they listened to as children — while raising their families and dancing at parties — senior living communities can bring back so many fond memories for their residents. And even more importantly, they can help them to avoid the risks of loneliness and isolation, as music can bring back these connections and has even been proven to enhance the quality of life for dementia patients and seniors with cognitive decline.
When choosing how to provide residents with music, senior living communities should focus on bringing back the songs that were a part of their residents’ lives, not covers or new versions. And it’s important to provide residents with a simple and easy way to access the music they want to hear.
One way to do this is through a mobile dashboard where residents can access a radio station with music specifically tailored to their generation. With a radio host, rather than just a music playlist, residents feel a sense of company and connection as they enjoy their favorite songs. Senior living communities can even run personalized messages for residents’ birthdays or anniversaries, and make important announcements and reminders on the station.
Staff can also provide music through their in-house community television channel. Residents could simply turn their TV to the designated channel and immediately access their community’s personalized station. Here they can also obtain other important information such as the weather, bulletin board messages, and other updates. Senior living communities can even share pictures to celebrate their residents and keep them connected, despite the social distancing and COVID-19 protocols.
During these difficult times it’s the simplest things that can bring us joy. For senior living residents it can be hearing their favorite music, creating a piece of art, or learning something new. It’s important to keep residents connected and taking part in activities big or small.
COVID-19 is a threat to seniors, but it’s important to not ignore the threat that loneliness and isolation pose as well.
Amy Jeffs is as vice president of Status Solutions, a provider of situational awareness technologies for life safety, security, environmental monitoring and mass notification.