Warblers bring joy to elderly through the gift of song

Banner organ player sven read 623761 unsplashA group of amateur singers has been reminding elderly patients, who live with debilitating conditions, of happier times.

The Wilderspool Warblers, from St John’s United Reformed Church, Warrington, volunteer their time to visit care homes once a month, singing old-time and other well-known songs to residents.

Sadly, some of the residents have severe dementia which prevents them engaging in conversations but that does not prevent a familiar song from putting a smile on their faces.

In giving so generously of their talent and time, the singing group – according to Rita Griffiths, Clerk to the URC's Mersey Synod – perfectly demonstrates the holy habit of giving.

Wilderspool Warblers‘The choir has been a regular visitor to the care home over the past three years,' said an activities coordinator from the award-winning care home provider, Belong. 'Performances are always happy, warm and uplifting for residents and members of staff. Some of the residents have severe dementia and/or physical disabilities and are unable to hold conversations, but as soon as we start to sing, we can see their lips moving along to the words, and they begin tapping their fingers and feet.’

The national charity Age UK has highlighted the very important role of music when it comes to supporting older people with the issues they face.

In ‘The benefits of music for older people’, the charity commented: ‘Music can improve the quality of life of older people in numerous ways … [It] has been used to treat people of all ages to overcome symptoms of depression, anxiety and loneliness for a number of years … [and] has seen a huge increase in popularity with older people, especially those suffering with dementia.’

Supporting the role of music as therapy for older people, Simon Peters, the URC's Walking the Way Project Manager, encourages congregations to use music, in coordination with the ten Holy Habits featured in Andrew Roberts’ book, to create new community activities.

‘The power of music and song can be tremendous,’ he says. ‘Have a look at Henry’s story and you can see how renewed meaning and connection can be given to those living with dementia and other conditions through the gift of music. Henry is a man who suffered from dementia for a decade and barely spoke to anyone – that is until an organisation called Music and Memory set up an iPod program at his nursing home.'

Simon asks: ‘Who are the older people around us? How can we, as disciples of Jesus, do more to support them and share God’s love with them?'

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Photo: Sven Read/Unsplash