Monthly music therapy program invigorates Golden Gate Senior Center patrons – Naples Daily News
Once a month, strumming guitars, rattling maracas and tapping tambourines turn a quiet side room at the Golden Gate Senior Center into an impromptuÂ dance floor as senior citizens twirl, shake and sing along to tunes from their childhoods.
There â past the little station that provides steamy hot coffee andÂ the tables where dominoes slide across the clothÂ â a group of center patrons gather for a music therapy session that aims to lift their spirits and help them socialize and exercise.
“The purpose of music therapy is to help really with the well-being of others,” said Laura Seipert, a music therapist from Avow Hospice who helps lead the monthly session, “whether it be to have a way to express yourself …Â to be able to connect with others, to be able to relax and breathe.”
The program is put on by Avow Hospice, which serves Collier County, and paid for byÂ Collier Senior Resources,Â another nonprofit organization, which provides free services for seniors and caregivers.
Since January, the program has filled the center with infectious laughter, hip-shaking Latin music and timeless dance moves.
On Friday â like every third Friday of the month â aboutÂ two dozen senior citizens, seated in a half-circle and armed with handheld instruments, followed Seipert and her colleague Natalie Spencer as the duo led them through an array of American and Spanish-language classics, from “Shake Rattle and Roll” to “Guantanamera.”
For the session, which is held in Spanish and English and open to all senior citizens, Seipert and Spencer look for songs their participants are familiar with, which means the tunes usually hail from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.
“It sort of brings something back for them,” Spencer said. “So that opportunity to reminisce and to reflect and to have their life and their experiences validated is huge. And that’s just a little piece of the power of music.”
Friday, too, many couldn’t resist the tunes. They rose from their seats and found dance partners from across the half-circle.
They snapped pictures with their phones and captured dance moves on short videos. They drew circles with colorful cloths, shook hips and maracas and swung elbowsÂ and tambourines. Smiles lit up the fluorescent room, and joyous yelps swelled with the chorus.
Luz Costa, 72, left her dominoes behind to join the song and dance. She said the group craves the monthly sessions.
“It’s very important,” she said. “It’s very spontaneous, but at the same time it’s touching to all (of) us.”
Costa, who grew up in Colombia and has lived in 11 countries, is a regular at the senior center. The program lifts her mood, she said.
“It’s the best medicine for us,” Costa said. “It’s fantastic.”