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Elderly Care: Drumming for Wellness

Evidence-Based, Therapeutic Approach to Wellness


At Positive RePercussions, we believe that music should be not only valued as a form of entertainment, but also as vehicle of positive change in the lives of individuals and groups. We use the power of music and rhythm to produce non-musical outcomes. Positive RePercussions delivers high-quality, evidence-based recreational music-making activities focused on working with senior citizens residing in memory care, retirement, assisted living and skilled-nursing care facilities. There are proven, significant intellectual, social and emotional benefits that are inherent in actively participating in recreational music-making activities. 


There is a growing body of research that shows the positive impact of therapeutic group drumming on senior living/senior care facilities’ residents:


  • Creativity & Bonding in Long-Term Care Residents

  • Strengthening of the Immune System

  • Improving Fine and Gross Motor Skills

  • Reduce Cognitive Degeneration


Research has shown that actively participating in recreational music-making activities is instrumental in reducing illness and doctor visits in senior populations. Therapeutic group drumming, especially, can also improve cognitive activity and increase individual responsiveness and alertness.


Therapeutic group drumming allows everyone to express and experience rhythm. Rhythm is a fundamental part of human life.  Understanding speech and interpreting the actions of others requires our brains to continuously coordinate extraordinary amounts of rhythmic information received from our eyes and ears.


Research has shown that the brain’s musical pathways remain intact much longer then other areas of the brain even after speech and short-term memory fade. Actively participating in recreational music-making activities stimulate these neuropathways and may greatly reduce or slow the process of deterioration in other areas of the brain.


Actively participating in recreational music-making activities has been shown to enhance seniors overall creative self-expression and instill a new sense of well being. By improving hand-eye coordination, stimulating cognitive abilities and the promoting wellness our evidence-based activities may reduce the sense of isolation many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients must feel as their verbal communication skills deteriorate. 


Our evidence-based group music-making programs allows family and their loved ones in memory care programs to reconnect through the incredible power of music. By playing music together creates the opportunity for a successful experience for families to re-connect with their loved ones once again through music on a level that does not require the use of verbal communication. 


Participating in Music-Making Activities:

“Playing instruments can bring back patients who have retreated from social life… 

They can get people to play together who can’t even talk to one another, It allows them to build community, with each other and with family members… Rhythm can also facilitate ambulation in stroke victims and those with late-stage dementia.

–Alicia Clair, Professor Emeritus of Music Therapy at the University of Kansas.


Why drumming? 


It may seem surprising, at first, that something as simple as drumming can have such a powerful impact on individual development and wellness. In many ways drumming is actually a mainstream, rather than an alternative, approach to health, development and wellness. 


In terms of wellness, therapeutic group drumming is really about stress reduction, exercise, self-expression, building connections with other people, and spirituality. 


Webster’s dictionary defines the word wellness as:


    wellness (n) wel•nis:

        the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal - the active pursuit of health


Inspiring Creativity & Bonding in Seniors

RMM Inspires Creativity & Bonding in Long-Term Care Residents


Recreational Music-Making(RMM) Inspires Creativity & Bonding in Long-Term Care Residents

Bittman, B., Bruhn, K., Lim, P., Neve, A., Stevens, C. Knudsen, C. , 2003 Provider (2004)

To test this hypothesis, two real-world laboratories were established at Wesbury United Methodist Retirement Community, Meadville, Pa., a facility with independent living, skilled nursing, assisted living, and memory support (skilled and assisted); and Fredericka Manor, Chula Vista, CA., a retirement campus with independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing, including 60 beds for persons with dementia.

While ongoing RMM programs are currently offered at both facilities, the data collection period extended from 2002 through 2003. A total of 550 seniors participated in the study. All subjects (or family members when appropriate) signed informed consents, and the protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board for Human Studies of Meadville Medical Center. The program was conducted by an interdisciplinary facilitation team that included a physician, two music therapists, a music teacher, musicians, and members of the facilities’ activities staffs. The program included a Yamaha Clavinova Keyboard assisted drum circle which followed the HealthRHYTHMS Protocol.


Resident Observations

After completion of the program, many residents noted the immediate benefits of creating connections with staff and other residents. Participation in just one RMM session often promoted identifiable and meaningful connections. The predominant conclusion was that there are no “strangers” at the end of an RMM session. Several residents remarked that their ability to more effectively deal with the loss of a loved one or friend was enhanced through RMM sessions. The acknowledgment of a person who had recently passed on served as an effective means for honoring an important relationship through empathetic group support. A number of participants commented that RMM positively influenced their overall perspectives and expectations for living in a long-term care environment. In addition, residents reported that RMM activities produced far more favorable effects when compared with antidepressants or mood-stabilizing drugs. 


Our evidence-based senior wellness programs and activities are designed to encourage cooperation, communication, and wellness through creative expression. For more information on our exciting senior wellness programs or how this very same Group Empowerment Drumming Protocol can also be utilized to cut employee turnover costs by 18%, please feel free to contact us.


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