The way we think about music with older adults is broken. It REALLY is.

Ask the average person what music people in a senior living center enjoy and you’ll get an answer along the lines of:

  • Old stuff from the 1920s-40s.
  • Classical music.
  • Nothing that I like.

Well, chances are those are wrong.

Age is not a determiner of what we like. It may offer a clue about what someone may have heard or may like. And, do note that year is changing. To walk into a senior living community and to hear the SAME MUSIC I heard when I started working in them over 30 years ago IS WRONG!

The way we think about music with older adults Some may know those older songs from the 1920s-40s. However, a 2010 Pew Research report indicated approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers will cross the 65 threshold every day until 2029. As folks cross the threshold there is a chance they will need rehab or short-term placement in a senior living community. Or, maybe they choose to move into a senior community. And, Baby Boomers differ to the person in what music they like, what music they know, and to what kinds of music they enjoy listening.

Being 65 or older doesn’t throw a switch making one love classical music. Some people do. Some people like it on occasion. Some don’t like it at all. The fact is, our music preferences are OURS. There are preschoolers who enjoy listening to classical music.

Not that some of it isn’t correct. But, the mix should be changing. The mix should reflect the interests of those LIVING  THERE. It should not be the music preference of the staff.

However, just because someone is “old” doesn’t prevent them from appreciating or liking some new songs. Don’t believe me? Check out this example:

While they may choose to not have a steady diet of current popular music, they may enjoy hearing some of it,

So what music do we share with older adults?

The short answer is the music they like. To discover it, you can use assessments like those found in Music Memory, and Meanings” or consult with a music therapist to guide you in assessing interests and needs.

You can:

Ask those whom you serve what music they want to hear. It may surprise you.

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