Since Let’s Dance is fairly new to the Boulder community we often have no idea what we are walking into, but in most cases we are delightfully surprised. We both feel passionately about providing interactive, fun and meaningful entertainment for the elderly. This group was very receptive to the music, movement and smiles. Interestingly there is always at least one example of our impact on the group when the activities person is concerned that a normally hostile resident might resist my guidance for movement but they don’t.
In my years in facilities and the elderly one thing that is severely lacking is touch. I think we forget just how important it is. We all are afraid to touch the elderly 95 years old lady because it looks like is very delicate. Indeed she is delicate but so are babies. When I reach for an elderly person I always smile and allow their hand on top of mine. The body language I am communicating is that they are in control, their hands are on top of mine they are guiding me. I also smile, get low enough to look them in the eyes and most importantly I approach slowly. I realize that at 95 years old it might take a lot longer to process my movements therefore peaceful gentle slow movement is most effective. Once we start moving they guide most of it and a lot of times I will encourage the movement of their feet and legs. I believe that a touch from someone, with gentle kind movement, can be healing for someone that has Alzheimer’s or dementia. With this belief in mind I am sure to give hugs, tap people on the shoulder, and give little kisses on the hands or head when I am done. I start with a gentle hand hold and leave with a salutation that includes touch, like a hug.
Like many of our experiences, an employee of this Sunrise facility informs us that normally “she doesn’t like to be touched” My experience with her was full of smiles and welcoming words. I had no idea she was normally uncomfortable with being touched especially when she was happy to hug me, several times. This is the magic that happens with Let’s Dance! Bright Hawk is a shining bright musician that is fun to watch, and simply watching her play makes a lot of people feel peaceful and joyful. Then the anticipation that I greet each and every person in the room face to face, around the circle….they know when its their turn. This anticipation, mixed with very special PanArt from the hang and my approach creates a safe space for anyone to express themselves with music. The room is filled with laughter, smiles and lots of movement!