Raising Their Voices: Music Is Connecting Residents to New Possibilities

Music has a unique ability to spread joy and bridge barriers. The special magic of song has taken root in one of Senior Lifestyle’s premier communities and is shaping the future possibilities for resident programming in the company and beyond. The Village Voices is an inspiring dementia-inclusive acapella choir consisting of seniors from the Independent, Assisted, and Memory Care communities at Atrium Village in Owing Mills, Maryland. Created as a therapeutic tool for residents with dementia, this program has been expanded to include residents from all backgrounds and abilities. This successful program is a testament to the power of music, helping residents – even those with advanced dementia – find joy and connection through the gift of song.


Inspired by positive responses to music during individual therapy sessions with dementia patients, the community’s Speech and Language Pathologist, Ellen Fromm had an idea. She approached Activities Director, Joelle Campbell about creating a larger choir among all of Atrium Village’s community residents. An enthusiast “Yes!” followed, and so did the creation of one of the community’s most beloved programs.


Co-creators Ellen and Joelle knew they were onto something special from the first day. They watched friendships blossom within their group, most importantly without regard to member’s care level or cognitive ability. Practices often saw more abled persons turning pages for Memory Care residents, and concerned friends asking about others unable to participate that day. They were amazed to see Memory Care residents who often paced or became agitated, sit for long periods of time, engaged and enjoying their moment of song. And they continually saw their residents find a connection to their past and with each other; spending many moments reminiscing as a group about their pasts, friends, and family.


Careful to create an environment where everyone can participate and feel connected, the leaders use clinical tools and research to help involve every resident in the choir’s activities. They choose traditional, familiar songs to help engage the resident’s long-term memory, understanding that for many learning new words and tunes is not possible. The group’s practices encourage interaction among the participants giving them plenty of time to chat and connect; with Ellen and Joelle believing the social, emotional, and physical stimulus of being part of the group is just – if not more – important than the songs themselves. And finally, Ellen and Joelle along with their community leadership, seek out opportunities for the residents to perform within The Atrium Village community as well as the larger Baltimore area, knowing that these types of events provide fulfillment and a sense of purpose for their residents.


The positive response from the involved residents, The Atrium Village community, and the resident’s family and friends has been immediate and overwhelming. The group has forty members and interest in the program and its potential in other communities is growing. The Village Voices have been able to hold several holiday concerts within the community, have performed at Ellen’s wedding, and are slated for a performance at Artscape on July 21st in Baltimore.


Atrium Village and its care team are so happy to start educating the greater community about this program! They hope to encourage more music and interaction in senior programming and share a little of the joy and connection being felt throughout their own Atrium Village Senior Living Community.


Find out more about Atrium Village and Senior Lifestyle’s award-winning programs today!

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