Bruce Devereux and the Good Samaritan Society would like to change this perception—and create a new culture of aging that celebrates and nurtures the capacities of the elderly instead of focusing on what they have lost.
That's why they recently collaborated with Sunshine Coast musician Steve Wright on the “Across the Lines” project. Over the course of several workshops, Wright brought iPads and iPhones along with musical instruments into Christenson Village and encouraged participating residents to engage in creative play. Participants especially enjoyed using the iPad and exploring several different music-making iPad applications to create sound patterns.
Wright and Devereux recorded their creative play and incorporated it into the “Across the Lines” CD, a largely improvised collection of tracks featuring music by a band consisting of local musicians Norman Boyd, Ian McLatchie, Serena Eades, and Barry Taylor, as well as Wright himself.
Devereux says the Across the Lines workshops were a huge success with the Christenson Village residents.
Irene Brougham, 83, one of Christenson Village's Assisted Living residents, agrees.
“It was so innovative and exciting for us,” she says. “The way it reached people… I was involved in one of the workshops and the residents there were so enthusiastic. It just opened up a whole new world.”
Irene believes that this kind of creative engagement with instruments and technology provides the older adult with an exciting new outlet for self-expression. “There are no errors—no way to do it 'wrong,'” she says. “And the joy of creating helps them forget their aches and pains.”
“Plus, they engage with each other more as they give feedback to those who are doing the creating,” Devereux adds.
Irene says the elderly participants were astonished by the capabilities of the new technology.
“It’s almost a make believe world for us,” she says. “It's like getting a present and you don’t know what’s inside it. It’s full of surprises... The TV is so passive. This is a whole new game. There’s nothing stale about it.”
At the time of this interview, Irene was eagerly awaiting the arrival of her own new iPad.
Devereux says that the “Across the Lines” project is part of a tidal change that he sees happening in the world of residential care. “There's a real shift going on, a feeling that something has to change in the design of residential care,” he says. “People are seeing the potential of a care facility as a place to create. It's not just a place full of people who are unwell.”
He hopes that more care facilities take a fresh look at the culture of aging and introduce more creative activities to their residents. “No matter what your ability levels are, you still have that capacity to create – and to get excited about it,” he says. “It's not just creating, it’s learning. Even if you have dementia and can't remember things, you can still enjoy the learning process and feel that excitement, that sense of accomplishment.”
The “Across the Lines “ project happened because of the generous support of the Good Samaritan Society, Sunshine Coast Foundation, and Bill Beaton. The CD will be available for purchase in physical format and online in the very near future, and we'll be having an official CD launch event early in the New Year.
For further information contact...
Bruce Devereux at firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Wright at email@example.com