“Sheena is a punk rocker, Sheena is a punk rocker, Sheena is a punk rocker now…” The Ramones, 1977. Assuming that Sheena was in her early 20s back in ’77 she’d be approaching 70 now, whether she’s still a punk rocker with a Mohican and a safety pin through her nose is anyone’s guess, but the point is that she’d be now approaching that time of life when decisions need to be made about her future care arrangements.
The image that music in care homes brings to mind is probably one of Val Doonican cardigans, Vera Lynn and her bluebirds and the Last Night of the Proms, all worthwhile and evocative of years gone by, but what is the provision of music in the sector today?
https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/daily-care/art-music#:~:text=Music%20and%20art%20can%20enrich%20the%20lives%20of,are%20common%20in%20the%20middle-stages%20of%20the%20disease is an informative article on the benefits of music in relation to dementia and Alzheimer’s as is the following from Age UK https://www.ageuk.org.uk/.../conditions-illnesses/dementia/dementia-and-music. These articles underscore the memory triggers that music can apply and can shine a light on the power that music has for all of us.
https://www.cmuse.org/psychological-and-physical-benefits-of-choral-singing. is a fascinating study taken by Bath University of singing together and https://equalarts.org.uk/our-work/care-home-choir is a really interesting read on the benefits of a choir in care homes. From the scientific and physiological benefits of exercising your throat, lungs and vocal chords through to the undoubted positive impact that communal activities bring, it is clear that singing your heart out is exceptionally good for you even if you’re not always in the same key as your partners!
But are there any bands playing in Care Homes? If you look at https://www.makingmusic.org.uk/resource/performing-care-homes. the sheer joy taken from bands playing in care homes is evident, in fact when researching this the list of performers who are available to play in care homes is huge and I find this enormously encouraging, I was looking for a band made up solely of residents but am yet to find it, if you know of one please let me know.
The Rolling Stones, The Who, members of The Kinks and Led Zeppelin are still performing to sell-out crowds around the world, all long past the magical age of 64 sung about by The Beatles, whilst the “enfant terrible” Jonny Rotten can now pull his pension. Nostalgic music events sell well and there are many festivals dedicated to this in Covid free times. Artists from around the world play festivals such as Womad where the average age of the punters is pretty high too. This all points to the fact that music is a key and vital part of our lives, important for recollection, enjoyment and celebration and memories of loved ones and sunny days.
As Bow Wow Wow sang in the early 80s “C60, C90 go”, not only does this remind us of those mix tapes we all used to make, but the numbers could also refer to eras and ages. Artists from the 60’s have already been referenced here, but it won’t be that long until those artists who were kicking up a storm in the early 90s will be the music of care home residents. Fat Boy Slim care home tours? Pete Tong having a weekly residence at The Rose Garden in Hereford? Saga running nostalgia trips to Ibiza? Don’t bet against it!