Creative Aging Directory - Musical Memories

Program Title
Musical Memories
Program Summary

Dr. Foster engages Elder Wisdomkeepers through a variety of musical song experiences, encouraging participation, to stimulate memories, physical movements, and emotional well-being. Dr. Foster will occasionally share the background to songs whether they be folk, popular, cultural, show tunes--music covering at least 100 years of our history--and include visuals and small rhythm instruments, voice, and guitar. The song-filledprograms include thematic approaches depending on the season, holiday, and activities at the individual residences.

In Memory Care, ten to twenty residents attend, assisted living and independent “houses,” anywhere from twenty to sixty participate. Ages of residents in any program are from late sixties to one hundred plus years.

Residents join in songs they enjoyed at a previous session. When shown a laminated card two residents shout out, “It’s a deer, a female deer!” Another card says: “Do” and “doe.” “What movie is this from?” More than one resident responds: “The Sound of Music,” singing, “Doe, a deer, a female deer, Re, a drop of golden sun. . .” More residents join in. They sing through all the musical notes with the related pictures and words.

For “Ti,” “Tea” a drink with jam and bread,” They’re asked,“What did you have for breakfast?” “Waffles,” says one. Another, “tea!” We sing and laugh. A show tune from Oklahoma elicits stretching and song. We reach up and sing “the corn is as high as an elephant’s eye,” and further still for, “ An’ it looks like it’s climbin’ clear up to the sky.”

Program Background and History

Dr. Foster studied in ALEPH (Alliance for Jewish Renewal) Seminary toward the Rabbinate, and one of the requirements was a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. During that training, at Charles E. Smith Life Communities, under the supervision of Rabbi Jim Michaels, Dr. Foster recognized that more than anything, by showing up she was a healing presence. During those studies it became clear that she worked well in accepting and understanding those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She had long known being with the elderly was something she loved, perhaps related to her love of history, and hearing people’s stories. In receiving spiritual guidance it became clear that Dr. Foster’s gift of music could be used to create a program that would enhance and be a healing experience for those involved. Thus arose, Musical Memories in the late summer 2013. The goal, to bring song, uplift, memory recall, and moments of peace to the residents she serves.

Program-Specific Research and Key Findings
Program-Specific Assessment and Evaluation
Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs
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Arts Discipline
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus
Participate in a Class
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus Other
Interdisciplinary Connections
Creative engagement
Target Audience
Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design
Adaptive Program Design Other
Program Setting
Adult Day Care, Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), Assisted Living, Healthcare - Long Term Care, Healthcare - Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
Program Service Area / Geography
Program Service Area / Geography Other