Music to spark a better life for older adults and preschoolers

Holiday care

christmas music

Image by euze via Flickr

I started periodically hearing Christmas carols on November 1st.  Without a doubt, I’ll walk into he local assisted living facilities this week and see Christmas decorations.  Decorations and songs carry emotional ties to many. (My family tradition limited Christmas music – except when practicing, and decorating until December 13th and it continued until January 6th so I am still adjusting to Christmas before Halloween.)

During the years I worked as an Activity Director, carolers were asking to come sing all hours of the day.  The first year, I scheduled as many as I could only to hear comments like “I’ll throw up if I hear one more carol” by December 15th.  I learned to ask the Resident Council in October how many carolers they would like a day.   They often asked me to limit it to one group per day.  I also inquired about the playing of holiday music during meals after Thanksgiving with the group asking it not be played loudly.  There was also the balancing of various faiths and customs in my planning.

Now as a private practitioner I keep these thoughts in mind.  I tend to limit my holiday music or intermix it with my plans.  As one who helps my church plan community outreach, I try to promote sharing hymns or leading singalongs in January when other groups aren’t there. And, I point out how such a schedule helps keep January from being a let down.

For those working in Long term care, assisted living, skilled nursing facilities and related facilities, I offer the following thoughts:

  • Be sensitive to how clients/patients are handling the holidays.  Some people are focused on the losses in their lives – who isn’t there to celebrate.  Others are more focused on pleasant memories.  Some have friends and family to support them while others lack this support system.
  • Be aware of the emotional charge some music carries for some people.  Try to follow their lead as to carols and other music selections.  There are varying tolerances of tears.
  • Feel free to mix things up. I am aware of a lot of songs that are used during the holidays hat are about winter rather than the holidays (e.g.- “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland“).  I use these throughout the winter season.  I also encourage listening to newer holiday songs.  Many of the residents with which I work love to discuss “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer“.  And, it doesn’t carry the emotional ties of songs like “I’ll be Home for Christmas”.  Yes, I still sing the emotional favorites as they request them, but I mix them in with other songs.   I also share songs from a variety of countries and faiths as appropriate to the group I am with.

May your December be joy and music filled!

Comments on: "Holiday care" (5)

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JoAnn Jordan, JoAnn Jordan. JoAnn Jordan said: Holiday care: […]

  2. mundanamt said:

    Great insights! It’s definitely so important to be sensitive to the many dynamics the holidays can bring.

    Thanks for a great post!

  3. soundscapemusictherapy said:

    JoAnn, I was just considering writing a post on a similar topic! I agree with you that it is important to consider how to use holiday music effectively – it is so easy to get over-saturated with the Christmas carols, especially when you have the captive audience of nursing home residents. I love that you encourage volunteers to schedule performances in January – I’ve done the same with some of my church groups. Nice post!

  4. […] been thinking about how to use holiday music effectively with older adult groups. As pointed out in this recent post by JoAnn Jordan, a fellow music therapist, it is easy to go a bit overboard with Christmas music […]

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