The Red Carpet Surprise

Based on a true story.heaven

She got out of the shiny black town car one leg at a time, with her black hose and shiny black high heels leading your eye, as they should. She strolled into the theater and into the elevator with a handsome man on her arm, as she should. Cameras were waiting as she glided through the lobby, bulbs flashing, heads turning. A staff person opened the door, and there it was, the thing she had been waiting for and had spent all day getting ready for – the magical red carpet. 

It wasn’t easy with the hair, the dress, the makeup, the jewelry.  It had been years since she had walked on it, or dreamed of walking on it, and she savored every moment as the crowd buzzed and the cameras whirred. 

She turned her head as she observed both sides of the aisle, smiling that million-dollar smile she still had after all these years, walking ever so slowly, knowing she had deserved it.  When she reached the end, the cameras seemed to never stop, and she soaked it up, not knowing if this was going to ever happen again.  It was a dream, fate, the gods, that after all these years she was here, and she couldn’t wait to see herself on the big screen, her image for all to see, her name in the credits. 

She was relevant again. 

And the music – that was a surprise – a music video at her age? I guess miracles never cease, she thought.  She walked by the hors d’oeuvres and smiled coyly at the TV camera, as she approached her seat.  The show was about to begin, and she was going to enjoy every minute of it.  

Click HERE to watch the music video.

Sounds like a Hollywood script – right? The ageless star coming back to glory one more time?  Well, in some ways it was. Except this was no ex-Hollywood babe.  This was Betty, a very normal, 89-year-old former housewife, from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who has dementia and lives in an assisted living community.  Betty, and another fifteen of her “new friends”  – all other residents of a Vibrant Life Senior Community called  New Friends Memory Care and Assisted Living – were the guests of honor and performers at a world premier of a music video entitled, “Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me.” 

Click HERE to watch the CBS news coverage of the event.

heaven

At 89, Betty is part of an unusual choir of people who have dementia. They practice every week and perform occasionally and have actually made a music video, whatever that is.   So here she was – like a dream – performing again after seventy years since high school choir, hearing the cheers of the crowd, and actually walking down a red carpet in nylons and pumps.  Except it wasn’t a dream, it was real, and she just hoped like hell that she would remember all of this the next morning. 

It was all a blur. There she was, onscreen, singing and dancing in the music video. Seeing herself – this older but still attractive lady in a documentary they had made of this “memory care choir” and, finally, performing the three Christmas tunes the choir had rehearsed.  She was surprised they sounded as good as they did, even though she couldn’t remember the arrangement; but she just followed the choir director’s instructions and somehow it all came out alright.  She even had a solo – singing “Silent Night” – and by god, she was shocked she knew all the words. But somehow her old, but still running brain, knew them all.  There was a speaker in the middle of the program who talked about how one part of the brain (the cerebellum) remembered music and somehow never forgot one note of a tune – something the other parts of her brain didn’t share. She sure knew about that.  

They talked about how music seems to “light up” your whole brain and after singing it can make people think a little better, as well as increase their mood.  Well, she didn’t need a study to tell her that! She always felt great after she sang, especially being part of a group–this group.  

At first she was shocked that she could even do the vocal exercises which warmed up her well-worn vocal cords, let alone sing a dozen songs that didn’t sound half bad.  Once her kids moved her in to this “old-age home” a few months ago (or was it longer than that?) she pretty much felt her life was over.  She was just playing out the days until the good Lord took her to be alongside her long-deceased husband. But after exercise classes in the morning, mind games and movies in the afternoon, pretty decent food (she had to admit) and a group of girlfriends she palled around with and had grown to love – that hadn’t happened since high school – she realized she wasn’t quite ready to pack it in. She actually still had something to live for.  And she especially looked forward to Thursday afternoons at two, where along with fourteen other older souls like herself, she could sing again, make beautiful music, forget the aches and pains, the sorrows, the regrets, and be that gorgeous twenty two-year old who once had dreams of being a star on Broadway. 

And then somehow, magically, here she was. as she looked around, in her silk stockings and high heeled shoes, gazing at the audience on their feet cheering wildly, not knowing exactly how she ended up on the red-carpet and the stage at this time of her life – but sure glad she did. 

Here is the star soloist performing Silent Night with her friends in the Tic-Toc Choir

 

Dean Solden is the founder, co-owner of New Friends Memory Care, a Vibrant Life Senior Living Community in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is also the musical director of the “Tic-Toc choir”, a choir at New Friends made up people who have memory care issues.  The following article is based on the true story of the hip-hop, memory care music video the choir produced, and the red-carpet world premier event which showcased both the choir and the music video. 

For more information contact – Deansolden.vibrantlife@gmail.com; vibrantlifeseniorliving.com; 

 

Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me

New Friends Memory Care has created an innovative “memory care choir” consisting of its residents with memory care issues, called the New Friends Memory Care, “Tic-Toc” Choir. The group is receiving national attention, with a recent mini-documentary created by Direct Supply out of Milwaukee, entitled, “The Spirit of Caring.” Musical Director and New Friends and Vibrant Life founder, professional musician, Dean Solden wrote the song for the residents of the community, inspired by their “ferocious will to live and still be themselves, and not be defined by their dementia.” The music video helps de-sensitize the concept of people having dementia, especially those with early cognitive or memory care issues.

5 Healthy Habits For Seniors: Staying Healthy As You Age

5 Healthy Habits to Stay Healthy As You Age

Good habits are important at every age. But seniors, in particular, should be mindful of their health.

Growing older can cause changes in the body that impact your quality of life and overall health. Fortunately, adopting some basic healthy habits can help you lower your risk for disease and keep you doing what you love.

Here are five healthy habits to keep in mind:

1. Eat Healthy

Healthy breakfast. Sandwiches with cream cheese, salmon, avocado and slice pear on plate.

Eating healthy is one of the best things you can do as you grow older. According to Healthline, a well-balanced diet helps you “maintain a healthy weight, stay energized, and…lowers your risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.”

Because your metabolism slows as you age, it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes and make sure you are getting a good balance of the five main food groups:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • and Protein Foods

Talking to your doctor can help you get a better understanding of your individual dietary needs. This can be especially important if you have a health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure that can be better managed through healthy eating.

For more information on eating healthy, check out the National Council on Aging’s Healthy Eating Tips for Seniors.

2. Stay Active

Senior couple taking selfie from mobile phoneThere are many myths about exercising as you age. Some seniors may think that they’re “too old” and there’s “no point,” or that exercise will be too frustrating or dangerous for them to do. The reality is that there are plenty of exercises that are safe for older adults. Finding one that you enjoy (and is approved by your doctor!) can help you reduce your risk for disease, improve your flexibility, and keep up your energy.

Some of the best exercises for seniors include:

  • Walking
  • Strength training
  • Swimming
  • Tai Chi
  • Dancing

3. Get Enough Sleep

assisted living residents need to take enough time to sleepGetting enough sleep is still important as you age, but may be more difficult than it was in the past. According to the National Sleep Foundation, changes to our “sleep architecture,”and circadian rhythms happen as we get older and can contribute to sleep problems. Sleep disruptors that can worsen as we age include insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, and restless leg syndrome (RLS).

To cope, it is recommended that you exercise in the afternoon, try to establish a consistent sleep schedule, and avoid alcohol and caffeine later in the evening. If issues persist, talk to your doctor for professional help. There may be an underlying issue you aren’t aware of.

4. Stay Connected

Senior Woman Winning Game Of Bingo In Retirement HomeAn often overlooked healthy habit is staying connected and socializing. According to the Elder Care Alliance, “Research has found that social support can play a significant role in overall health as people age. Spending time with friends and family members can boost quality of life, including both physical and mental health.” Maintaining these social connections can help reduce stress and the risk of anxiety or depression. It may also help cognitive health as we get older.

So how can you avoid loneliness and stay connected? There are plenty of ways to interact with others. Many communities offer resources aimed specifically at the senior community. You can search in your local area for:

  • Exercise classes
  • Clubs
  • Lifelong learning opportunities
  • Senior community centers
  • Art and music classes

Are you 55+ and live in Washtenaw County, Michigan? Find senior activities near you here.

5. Keep Your Mind Sharp

Senior man eating breakfast and doing crosswords at memory care facility.Noticing your cognitive function change you older? Fleeting memory problems or trouble learning new things as quickly as you once did can be part of the normal changes to our brain structure and function as we age, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The publication lists some strategies backed by research to keep your mind sharp, including ongoing learning, economized brain use, and properly timed repetition. Staying active has also been suggested to preserve the brain, including thinking skills and memory.

Of course, prolonged or severe memory loss or confusion is not normal. See a doctor if you are experiencing signs of dementia.

Staying Healthy As You Age

Staying healthy is key to maintaining your independence and quality of life as you age. Keep these healthy habits in mind and get on a path to a healthier you!

Meet 3 Members of the Tic-Toc Choir

With the World Premier of our very own Tic-Toc Choir just around the corner, we thought it would be nice to catch up with a few of the performers and get to know them a bit better.

Related: Red Carpet World Premier of Hip Hop Memory Care Music Video

Reminder: New Friends Memory Care has created an innovative “memory care choir” consisting of its residents with memory care issues, called the New Friends Memory Care, “Tic-Toc” Choir and is receiving national attention. Their showcase video is titled, “Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me.”

Meet Some Stars of the Tic-Toc Choir

Meet Sandy

Sandy was a delight to interview with lively talk about her involvement in the choir, her love of music, and life as a young woman.

“Dean is a great man and his personality is so sweet. It’s because of him that we (the choir) want to do a good job. He is interested in all of us, which is so important.”

Sandy’s love for the choir is evident whenever she talks about it. She became quite animated when talking about her younger years. Sandy has lived in Michigan her entire life. She grew up near Kalamazoo as the youngest of four girls. Her father left the family when she was just four years old. Sandy’s mother worked hard raising her daughters and teaching them to work hard too. Sandy helped her sister with her paper route, later worked in an ice cream parlor, and eventually started a 30 year career at UpJohns.

Sandy sang in her church choir and loves traditional hymns along with many types of music. Country is one of her favorite genres.

When asked if she had any words of wisdom for younger generations, Sandy said, “Get along and have a good time. Do something you enjoy.”

Tic-Toc Choir

Meet Katie

Katie loves all kinds of music and is an expert at animal impressions. She enjoys the Tic-Toc Choir and singing with her friends.

She spent her career as a nurse and has one son, one daughter, and grandchildren. When asked about her favorite food, Katie had a hard time narrowing it down but admitted she prefers salty over sweet.

At Vibrant Life, Katie also enjoys arts and crafts and her favorite spot is sitting in the dining area with friends and keeping an eye on what is going on outside.

Tic-Toc Choir

Meet Linda

Linda has fond memories of producing the music video and also enjoys being in the choir. Her favorite Christmas carol is, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas.” With a gleam in her eye, she admitted her favorite type of music is Rock n’ Roll. The more toe tapping, the better!

Linda is very proud of her sons, one of which is a police officer in Battle Creek and the other lives in Florida and is the father to her granddaughter Gabby. Her favorite hobby is light gardening where she can spend time outside in nice weather.

Words of wisdom: “Roll with the punches!”

 

Find Out More

Stay tuned for more information about this wonderful and popular choir. Please join us at our world premier featuring the video, “Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me” and a performance from the choir. You don’t want to miss it.

EVENT DETAILS

Vibrant Life Mission

Vibrant Life Senior Living’s mission and core principles emphasize respect, care, and empowering each person to live a fulfilling life through meaningful relationships and continued access to the stimulating activities that make life worth living.

For more information about or organization or to schedule a visit please call: (734)535-7442

Red Carpet World Premier of Hip Hop Memory Care Music Video

Are you ready for the Red Carpet World Premier of the ONLY Hip Hop Memory Care Music Video?

What an amazing way to close out the decade!

New Friends Memory Care has created an innovative “memory care choir” consisting of its residents with memory care issues, called the New Friends Memory Care, “Tic-Toc” Choir and is receiving national attention. Their showcase video is titled, “Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me.

Musical Director and New Friends and Vibrant Life founder, professional musician, Dean Solden wrote the song for the residents of the community, inspired by their “ferocious will to live and still be themselves, and not be defined by their dementia.”  The music video helps desensitize the concept of people having dementia, especially those with early cognitive or memory care issues. 

This event is our way of celebrating these wonderfully talented seniors.

Event Details

Please visit our Facebook Event for more details. 

WHEN: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 5-6PM

WHERE: The Jolliffe Theatre Space at the Epic Center in downtown, Kalamazoo (359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 205, Kalamazoo, MI  49006)

COST:  The event is free and open to the public. Please RSVP. Call Jenny Palmer at 269-372-6100 or email  jpalmer@newfriendsmemorycare.com

DETAILS: This heart-warming event will feature residents of New Friends Memory Care, formally dressed, walking on the red-carpet at Kalamazoo’s Jolliffe Theatre Space at the Epic Center, (something they never expected) as they and the audience will watch the premier of their music video, Don’t Define Me, Just Remind Me,  as well as a the Mini-documentary, The Spirit of Caring. There will also be a performance by the New Friends Memory Care Tic-Toc choir and a discussion with the audience about music and dementia.  This event will also be the formal launch of the music video on social media. 

About Vibrant Life and New Friends Memory Care

Our History

Vibrant Life Senior Living Communities opened in 1997.  We are dedicated to the belief that seniors can continue to enjoy a vibrant life and have a purpose despite any physical or cognitive decline.

We currently have four locations:

Vibrant Life Temperance

New Friends Memory Care and Assisted Living

The Lodges of Durand

Vibrant Life Senior Living Superior Township

Our Mission

Vibrant Life Senior Living’s mission and core principles emphasize respect, care, and empowering each person to live a fulfilling life. We focus on meaningful relationships and continued access to the stimulating activities that make life worth living.

Contact Us Today!

Memory Care Music Video

Spirit of Caring Documentary about the Tic-Toc Choir

New Friends Memory Care has created an innovative “memory care choir” consisting of its residents with memory care issues, called the New Friends Memory Care, “Tic-Toc” Choir. The group is receiving national attention, with a recent mini-documentary created by Direct Supply out of Milwaukee, entitled, “The Spirit of Caring.” Musical Director and New Friends and Vibrant Life founder, professional musician, Dean Solden wrote the song for the residents of the community, inspired by their “ferocious will to live and still be themselves, and not be defined by their dementia.” The music video helps de-sensitize the concept of people having dementia, especially those with early cognitive or memory care issues.

Talking to Parents About Assisted Living

Getting a Parent Into Assisted Living: Having the Conversation and Taking the Next Steps

The holidays are often a time when families get together, and for those with aging parents, it can begin a conversation about how mom or dad is doing. If a loved one is struggling to get around and meet their basic needs, it can open the door to a discussion about the need for additional care, or even a move to assisted living.

Talking to your loved one about assisted living or other care can be a difficult and highly emotional topic for everyone involved. Empathy is essential when approaching the conversation and realize that in many cases, getting a reluctant parent into an assisted living community will be a longer process than you intended.

To help ease the process, we’ve outlined some of the considerations for having that discussion, and the next steps you can take to help make the transition as seamless as possible.

Step 1: Assess the Situation

Your first step is to understand if your loved one is ready for assisted living. Get a clear picture of your parent’s health and ability to take care of themselves; in some cases, an in-home nurse may be sufficient in bridging a gap in care and help keep them in their home. Family members and in-home helpers can also provide non-medical care such as housework, meal preparation, hygiene tasks, or running errands.

Seniors are often reluctant to leave their homes; there sometimes comes the point when moving is a necessary next step in keeping your aging parents safe and healthy. Signs that someone may need assisted living include serious or frequent injury, difficulty performing everyday tasks, or worsening memory loss.

When assessing your loved one’s situation, consult their caretakers (including medical professionals) to evaluate whether a move is necessary. All family members involved in the process, such as siblings, should be aware of the situation and be on the same page moving forward.

Step 2: Have the Conversation

If you’ve made your assessments and still believe assisted living is a good idea, it’s time to bring up the topic with your loved one. Many articles recommend taking it slow and not pushing too hard — it can take multiple conversations for someone to come around, and the person should feel like they are playing an active part in deciding their future.

In some cases, a parent may outright refuse to consider assisted living. It is often very little you can do in this situation, and it may take a health scare to change their mind about living alone.

This article goes into greater detail about some of the ways you can bring up the conversation and convince your parents to move to assisted living.

Step 3: Consider Your Options

Once you’ve agreed your parent can no longer live independently, it’s time to consider your options in terms of care. You will need to review your parent’s finances to see what they can afford; in some cases, you may need additional assistance to cover the cost. In Michigan, for example, eligible adults “can receive Medicaid-covered services like those provided by nursing homes but can stay in their own home or another residential setting,” through the MI Choice Waiver Program.

Choosing the community right for you depends on what is within budget. Take some time to understand how you will approach budgeting for care. Be sure to include your parents in this conversation and explore all of the options, including insurance policies they may have obtained and programs they may use. Once clear, review these items as well:

  • What type of community interests them?
  • What type of amenities are required?
  • Do they require a certain level of privacy or bedroom size?
  • What type of environment would make them feel most at home?

Be sensitive to their needs and the fact that this can be a stressful and emotional time. With your list of criteria and budget in mind, you can then research local assisted living communities and create a shortlist of options you can tour. Your parent should accompany you on these tours if possible. Visiting communities with you helps them feel like a part of the process and also helps them to feel as if they have more control over the situation.

These tours will help you narrow your selection and pick the best option for your parent. Be sure to check the list of needs and wants against each facility and ask to chat with residents or staff to get a feel for the community. You should also verify the quality of care by checking assisted living records and reports to make sure there are no violations or other red flags.

Step 4: Make the Move

Even if you’ve found the perfect community, moving can be a challenging time. Your loved one has to deal with the emotions of leaving their home and adapting to a new environment. Throw coordination of the logistics of moving in, and it can begin to feel overwhelming.

To make this process as smooth as possible, talk to the community to find out what (if any) furniture is provided, and get room dimensions beforehand. Once you have an idea of how much space you’re working with, you and your loved one can decide which possessions to bring with them, while also making a plan for the items and clothing left behind.

With the logistics nailed down, you can focus on supporting your parent emotionally as they make the transition to assisted living. Having family and friends on hand to visit can go a long way in easing the stress of change — some communities even offer their transitional support services.

Want to learn more about assisted living? Find frequently asked questions about assisted living here.

Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

Winter Safety Tips for Seniors

Winter can be a dangerous time. Power outages, hazardous road conditions, and extreme cold can threaten the health of even the heartiest people, and seniors can be especially susceptible to the hazards of winter. The key to keeping you and your loved ones safe throughout the winter months is to be prepared and limit your exposure to these risks. Here are some winter safety tips for you or your loved one to keep in mind.

Know How to Prevent Potential Hazards in the Home

Extreme cold can create many potential hazards in your loved one’s home. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to prepare for these issues and keep the house’s inhabitants safe.

Carbon Monoxide

According to The National Weather Service, “Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States.”

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the National Weather Service emphasizes that you should never run generators indoors or use a gas oven to heat your home; all heating devices should be used as intended, by following the manufacturer’s instructions. You should also buy and install a carbon monoxide detector so everyone will know if a leak has occurred.

 

Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes can burst and create a mess (and expensive repair bill) for seniors. Make sure your loved one knows how to prevent and safely thaw frozen pipes before winter hits:

  • Prevention: Let the faucet drip to keep water moving. Set the thermostat above 55 F and keep cabinet doors open so warm air can circulate.
  • Treatment: Run the water and warm the frozen pipe with an “an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water.” High heat from tools like a blowtorch can damage the pipes or start a fire and should not be used.

 

Limited Food Supplies and Contact

Preserved food, marinated fermented and pickled vegetables

Cold temperatures and icy conditions can make it difficult to travel. Make sure the house is well-stocked with food for the winter, including non-perishables that can be eaten if the power goes out. You should also have a plan to check on elderly relatives and friends; if you don’t live nearby, see if a neighbor can help.

 

Heating Hazards

thermostatic valve on radiator close up

Heat sources can be potential fire hazards when used incorrectly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using space heaters with “automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements,” and keeping them at least three feet away from flammable materials like drapes and furniture. All heating elements should be vented properly (if applicable) and power cords should be kept safely out of the way.

Limit Exposure to the Outdoors

Staying out too long in the cold can lead to hypothermia or frostbite, and icy conditions can increase the risk of falling — especially for seniors. Older adults should limit their exposure to the outdoors in cold temperatures and make sure their sidewalks are kept shoveled and salted when venturing out.

When doing snow removal, older adults should also be mindful of their activity level and any health conditions they may have. According to The National Safety Council, “Sudden exertion, like moving hundreds of pounds of snow after being sedentary for several months, can put a big strain on the heart,” and warns that cold weather can “increase heart rate and blood pressure,” even in healthy people.

The American Heart Association has a list of tips for shoveling snow more safely.

Travel Safely

Adverse weather conditions can make traveling dangerous; according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 21% of vehicle crashes that occur every year are weather-related.

Seniors should weigh the risks carefully before venturing out in adverse conditions and be prepared. To make sure their car is ready for winter, have the engine coolant and antifreeze levels checked, as well as the pressure and tread depth of the tires.

Each car should also have a winter car emergency kit, which includes supplies like an ice scraper, portable shovel, blanket, flashlight, battery booster cables, and a first-aid kit. Make sure your loved one knows what to do if their car gets stuck in the snow, or they need to flag down help.

Be Prepared This Winter

The cold weather months can be a dangerous time for seniors. Make sure you know the risks and help your loved one stay safe by preparing properly for winter.

Senior Activities Near Me: Things to Do in Washtenaw County

Activities for Seniors in Washtenaw County, Michigan

Staying active and preventing loneliness as we age is important in keeping us healthy both mentally and physically, but finding new activities to join can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. According to the National Institute on Aging, “several research studies have shown a strong correlation between social interaction and health and well-being among older adults and have suggested that social isolation may have significant adverse effects for older adults.”

As a top provider of senior housing in Washtenaw County, Vibrant Life Senior Living, Superior Township is connected to local communities and the many resources they offer the 55+ population. We’ve compiled this helpful list of senior activities near us for you or your loved one to explore!

Senior Woman in Art Class in Washtenaw County

Activities in Ypsilanti, MI

Located roughly 10 miles east of Ann Arbor and 5 miles from Superior Township, Ypsilanti is home to Eastern Michigan University and entertainment for all ages. Here are some good options for senior activities:

Taking a Class at Ypsilanti Senior/Community Center

The Ypsilanti Senior/Community Center offers a wide range of programs for seniors, including knitting, euchre, art, and bingo. For those looking to stay active, the Center also offers gentle fitness classes and line dancing.

There is no membership fee at The Ypsilanti Senior/Community Center, but donations are welcomed and some programs come with a small cost.

Swimming at Rutherford Pool

Swimming is a low-impact exercise with many health benefits for seniors, including improved flexibility, heart health, and muscle tone. The Rutherford Pool in Ypsilanti offers many opportunities for seniors to swim throughout the day, as well as water exercise classes that are open to all ages and abilities. Find the schedule here.

Seniors (55+) can pay a daily entrance fee of $3, or buy a $12 punch card (your fifth entrance is free). Season passes are also available for $75.

Visiting Museums

History lovers will find plenty of places to visit in Ypsilanti. The city is home to multiple museums, including:

Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum

Located in historic Depot Town, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum‘s featured automotive stories include Chevrolet Corvair, Tucker, Hudson, Kaiser-Frazer, and General Motors Hydra-matic. Special events are typically held throughout the spring and summer, and visitors to the museum can enjoy nearby restaurants and shops all year long.

Admission is $5, and free parking is available.

Michigan Firehouse Museum

The Michigan Firehouse Museum is also located in Depot Town and encompasses over 26,000 square feet of “historic artifacts including tools, equipment, memorabilia and the largest collection of fire truck bells in the country.” Admission for adults is $5.

Yankee Air Museum

The Yankee Air Museum is located at Willow Run Airport and offers fun for the whole family with exhibits on aviation, aerospace, and the science of flight. Thunder Over Michigan, part of a major air show tour, is also held here in the summer. Admission to the museum is free to members, and seniors 60+ pay $8.

Activities in Ann Arbor, MI

Known for its food and art, Ann Arbor is a great place to go when you need something to do! The city is a roughly 20 minute drive from Superior Township, and is home to a number of businesses offering activities tailored specifically to seniors. Here are some options to explore:

Retired Senior Woman Attending Art Class In Community Centre

 

Taking Classes at the Ann Arbor Senior Center

Similar to The Ypsilanti Senior/Community Center, the Ann Arbor Senior Center offers a number of programs and services to the community. Activities include bridge and social games, fitness classes, and informational workshops. The cost of classes vary, and members receive a discount. A yearlong membership is $25.

Exploring The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Michigan

Adult learners ages 50+ can explore a large catalog of events at The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, including lecture series, small group learning, and informal activities around town. Prices vary.

Continuing Lifelong Learning at Elderwise

Elderwise is another lifelong learning option in Ann Arbor, offering single and multi-session courses, as well as tours and field trips. According to their website, the $40 membership fee covers the 12 months between September 1 and August 31 the following year, although you do not have to be a member to take classes. Paid membership entitles you to a discount on class registration fees.

Senior coiuple in sports center in Washtenaw County

Activities in Canton, MI

A fifteen to twenty-minute drive from Superior Township and Ypsilanti, Canton’s beautiful golf courses, community resources, restaurants, and premier theater make it the perfect place for seniors of every lifestyle. Activities for seniors include:

Taking a Class at The Canton Club 55+

Club 55+ is a senior adult program run as part of the Summit on the Park Community Center, and gives seniors plenty of opportunities to meet new people and stay active:

  • Enjoy camaraderie at a social club
  • Learn something new (or pick up a new hobby) with art, music, and other fun classes
  • Get active with fitness classes like karate, dance, or aquatics

You can visit their website to see a calendar of current events and information about memberships.

Golfing

Both of Canton’s golf courses offer senior golf leagues:

  • Pheasant Run Golf Club’s senior league (56+) consists of two-player teams competing for weekly prizes on 9 holes.
  • Fellows Creek Golf Club’s senior league (55+) is a 16-week league where all skill levels are welcome.

Enjoy a Show at The Village Theater at Cherry Hill

The Village Theater at Cherry Hill is “a 400-seat, premiere performing / visual arts and education center” offering a wide variety of shows, including comedy acts, dance recitals, and musicals.

Staying Active as You Age

At Vibrant Life Senior Living, we understand the importance of continuing to stay active and social as we age, and emphasize the importance of living a vibrant life at our senior living communities. We hope you found this list helpful — please let us know if you have any questions!

Jazz Age(ing): The Joy of Jazz Music in a Senior Living Community

I sat at the keyboard, hands touching the keys but not yet actually pressing them down, thinking about the first notes I would play. These were essential notes, as they would set the tone for the many notes to follow, just like the first words and sentence of an essay sets the tone for the rest of the piece. You would think that once I had picked the song to play, I would know what notes the corresponding notes of that song would be, but that is not the case. I’m a jazz musician, and therefore, every time I play a song, it is different. 

My left hand started to play a familiar, bluesy bass line. I moved into a rollicking kind of rhythm, “bam ba baam ba, bam ba baam ba,” accenting the third beat of the riff, a sound any audience would recognize as sort of a boogie-woogie, bluesy bass line. I started it in the key of C, and then moved it up to the F, and then up to the G, which is part of the simple, typical blues progression. Most people will recognize this as the blues, even if they don’t know it intellectually, because they have heard it a thousand times before in their lives.

The audience responded, moving their heads up and down and tapping their feet. I eventually added my right hand with chords, and now they really recognized the pattern. They started moving their bodies even more. This was a great audience. They were so appreciative of the music and really felt it. When I started adding some cool blues licks they were right there with me, oohing and ahhing.  

After I finished the melody, I started soloing over the form of the tune, as jazz musicians do. I started playing a different song, a short, simple one, then left some space. Space is good. It leaves the brain some room to appreciate the next phase.  

Getting into the rhythm Vibrant Life Senior Living

However,  I was surprised to hear the space taken up by another musician. I looked around instinctively, although I knew no one else was on the stage with me. In a second, I realized the sound was coming from the audience.

“Ba ba de ba do ba de dom!,” the sound said, echoing one of my riffs. I played the same riff on the keys. “Ba ba de ba deedala de dom!,” the sounds said, echoing the first riff, but adding a few more notes. I repeated that riff on the keyboard. We kept doing this. Now the musician from the audience was leading me, and I was following him! 

We kept this up for a while, and I looked up to see who was jamming away, scat singing to my tune. It was a man off in his own world, moving his head up and down, beating his left leg on the ground like a drummer, and singing like he was in a jazz jam session on 54rd street in New York City in the 1950s. 

Except we weren’t in New York City in the 1950s; we were in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the year 2019. And we weren’t in a blues or jazz club. We were in an assisted living community called Vibrant Life Senior Living. The audience’s average age was 85 years old, and some of them had dementia

But I didn’t care, and neither did they. I was playing, and the crowd was enjoying the music.

The guy jamming with me was an 87-year-old guy named Bob. Bob is a former music teacher, and he is a Musician with a capital M. He plays all sorts of instruments and has a mandolin and guitar in his room, as well as other percussion instruments. We’ve talked about music, and when I talk to him, Bob speaks, acts, and thinks like a musician. It doesn’t matter that he struggles to walk, and sometimes struggles to get the words out. It doesn’t matter that his fingers sometimes don’t work that well, and he can have a hard time playing his mandolin. When I go to his room, we talk tunes and musical styles, and about other musicians, and anecdotes about audiences and joke about what musicians joke about, just like I’m talking to my music buddies my age. We are part of a club, the musician club, and I know he knows what he’s talking about just like he knows I know what I’m talking about.  

Because we were in such a familiar setting, I felt comfortable just stopping the tune mid-stream.  “Ok, hold on here,” I said. “This is too good. Bob, come on up here on our stage with me. If you’re gonna be a part of the band, scat singing like that, you may as well join me here up on the stage.”  

I got up and went over to Bob, who was in his wheelchair. I rolled him over next to the keyboard, and then maneuvered the mic-stand, so the mic was right at his mouth. “Bob, let’s keep doing what we were doing, but this time, sing into the mic. You’ll be my sax player.” 

Group Of Seniors Standing By Piano And Singing Together

Bob was all for it, so I started the tune up again. I started riffing away, leaving some space, and Bob began to riff as well, scat singing into the microphone. He was getting into it, emphasizing every other beat of the riff. And the audience was getting into it, too. They started banging on the tables with their hands and stomping the ground with their feet. They had become my rhythm section – they all just became drummers! I kept playing and singing, and Bob kept scatting away, really sounding like a saxophonist, and my drummers kept pounding the beat for another five or ten minutes. Bob ended with a flourish, and I got up off the keyboard and led my audience/rhythm section to a big finish like a conductor with his orchestra.  

When it was over, there was silence.  We all realized that we had just experienced something magical. For a few minutes, we weren’t in an assisted living community any longer. For a few minutes, they weren’t “residents” any longer.  For a few delicious moments, we were all transported, all of us just people, all of us just musicians, riding on the magical wave of jazz. For a few delightful minutes, “saxophonist” Bob didn’t feel any pain, didn’t feel trapped inside his own body, and instead was jamming away being a real musician, as he had been for the past fifty years of his life. And for a few special moments, all of my “audience/drummers” forgot where they were, both in place and time and instead as the sounds of jazz flowed through the air, we were all in a late night jazz club on 54th street in New York City. 

 


Author Bio

Dean-Solden-Vibrant-Life-Senior-Living

Author Dean Solden is the founder and co-owner of Vibrant Life Senior Living and has been a leader in the senior health care business for the past thirty years. He also is a professional musician (DeanSoldenmusic.com), writer, speaker, and playwright. He can be contacted at deansolden@gmail.com.