Kristina O’Boyle has been using karaoke music to entertain members of retirement communities, those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, and even hospital patients for more than 15 years.
Using karaoke software, O’Boyle projects the words on a large TV screen and then, joined by her partner, David Robin, they begin to sing. The duo watches as people with Alzheimer’s start reading the words on the TV and start singing along.
“George, who lives at one of the Brookdale senior living facilities, never participated,” O’Boyle recalls. “After about six months of entertaining there, I tried the song by Cole Porter, ‘Don’t Fence Me In.’ Out of the blue George turned toward the TV screen and started singing. It’s like that song woke him up.”
O’Boyle admits she’s had activity directors at senior living facilities and senior center tell her that “people don’t want to sing along, they just want to be entertained.”
“Yet when I come in singing with the words on their large screen TV, somehow the shy and socially inhibited become less restrained and join in with the singing,” O’Boyle explains. “They love being able to read the words to favorite songs of their youth and I have some actually take the microphone.”
O’Boyle believes music can be more therapeutic than medication. “It brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can,” she says. “I see people dancing in their wheelchairs when they hear a certain song.”
There are also benefits to the mind and memory. Reading the words to a song is not only entertaining, it exercises the eyes and their brains, O’Boyle points out.
“Karaoke helps recognize, comprehend and communicate the English language.”
O’Boyle and Robin will bring their karaoke stylings to the Sunnyslope Senior Center at 10 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 9, and the Devonshire Senior Center at 12 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27.
For more information, call 602-625-0062, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kristinaoboyle.com.