I am always looking for musical materials and methods that will capture the attention of my older adult clients with moderate to late stage dementia. Because of where they are in the disease process, these folks often have a harder time engaging in singing, sharing in discussion, and instrument playing. Some clients also have more severe physical impairments that make it harder to participate in music-making experiences, such as worsening muscle contractures, declining trunk control, and weakening motor skills. Enter the ocean drum.
The ocean drum is one instrument that I think every facility specializing in dementia care should own. Even people with severe motor impairment and very low cognitive functioning can play this instrument with some physical assistance. The reward is a pleasant tactile and visual experience, and a soothing white noise, which is an extra bonus for people who are living with greater levels of anxiety.
Here’s a short video demonstrating how to use the ocean drum and spelling out just why I think it’s so useful for people who have dementia:
Have you played an ocean drum before? Why do you think it works so well with older adults? Please leave a comment below!
P.S. For a video on another great instrument for music-making with older adults, check out my previous Tools of the Trade post.