A truly happy hour
When you hear the term happy hour you might think of a pub or bar, but at Bupa Aged Care Traralgon it truly is an hour of happiness.
With their lippy on and their hair done, residents flock to the lounge room every Friday at 1:30pm, for an afternoon of live music, dancing and socialising.
Jennifer Delicato, a Lifestyle Coordinator at Bupa Traralgon says it’s the highlight of the week for many residents.
“They all look forward to it especially when they have an entertainer,” says Delicato. “The communities within the home have formed really firm friendships and they all love getting together.”
“Some will get up and dance and some will sing,” she says. “Generally we’ll get the residents in the wheelchairs out and take them for a bit of a spin on the dance floor too.”
Delicato says it’s also a great opportunity for the team who work at the home to have some fun with residents.
“There’s one man who lives with Parkinson’s disease. He gets out of his wheelchair and grabs one of the team members because he loves dancing. It’s really heart-warming when you see that.”
Margaret Ryan, Head of Dementia Services at Bupa says music and dance can be really therapeutic for people living with dementia.
“The music, the socialisation, the activity, people up and dancing. That’s something wonderful and spontaneous in their life that can be rare at times,” she says.
“For a lot of people in the generation that we’re caring for, music and dance was a huge part of their youth,” says Ryan. “Many couples met at dances and socials, it was like the dating app of their time. So it’s an opportunity to reminisce on happy times in their lives and generate positive feelings.”
For many people living with dementia, their long term memory remains intact, but their short term memory is not.
“So they might not remember going to happy hour last week for example, but with some prompting and knowledge of a person’s life story, our team members are able to ask questions about dances they went to in the past. Or if the resident met their husband or wife at a dance, it’s a chance to prompt a memory around that.”
Ryan says activities like this can help create a feeling of wellbeing that in some cases lingers longer than a person’s memory of taking part in the event in the first place.
“Even in a physical sense if people are laughing and having fun, it releases natural endorphins in the body and that feeling will last,” says Ryan. “So if someone has had a good couple of minutes of laughter and dancing they may not remember that in half an hour, but that positive feeling, or emotional memory lasts.”
“That’s the crux of our ‘Person-First’ approach , it’s about working with people in the moment because of memory loss and communication problems. It’s important to make every encounter count,” says Ryan. “If we can give a person several meaningful moments, or enjoyable moments through the day, then those positive emotions will remain as well.”