There is a new fitness craze sweeping residential care centers across the world – silent discos. A silent disco is an event where people dance to music listened to on wireless headphones. Rather than using a speaker system, music is broadcast via Bluetooth with the signal being picked up by wireless headphone receivers worn by the participants. You don’t have to play 80s music, you can tailor the music to the audience.
Why it works so well in aged care
There are various silent disco programmes running in residential care facilities in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Testaments from staff have all praised silent discos for helping keep residents engaged through movement. This activity suits people of all mobility levels, from getting up and boogieing to moving hands and tapping feet for those who may remain seated. It is a great way to encourage movement and depending on the mobility of the participants and weather can even be outside to enjoy the sunshine! Because all the participants have their own headsets on it is so immersive which results in the level of engagement being so much higher than what has been seen with other activities. It is also good because anyone who wants to can join in, and you do not disturb people who do not want to join in as they can’t hear the music. Also, despite how it may seem, participants are still being social – they are all listening to the same music at the same time, watching each other and having that communal joy.
Coordinators have found that the combination of music and dance has proved to have therapeutic benefits, particularly with dementia sufferers. There have been numerous studies conducted on the relationship between Dementia and music and music therapy, read our article The Power of Music for more information.
Programme coordinators have commented that “It’s actually quite difficult to get our people with cognitive impairment to join in to exercise groups, they feel a little disconnected and have trouble following the instructions. When you put it to music and they remember the words and they move at that base instinct, which doesn’t require cognition, that’s really the only exercise program that I’ve seen that gets people up and engaged and working as a cohesive group.” With agitation and frustration being common among dementia suffers, after a silent disco session patients feel far more settled and behavioral issues are observed to be reduced for the rest of the day.
Researchers have been so impressed about the positive effects, many are beginning to conduct formal studies into the impact of the silent discos on dementia sufferers.
So, get your dancing shoes on, pick up a headset and boogie!