Residents of Armstrong’s Heaton Place Retirement Community connect over coffee and music. (Carrie O’Neill - Contributed)

Residents of Armstrong’s Heaton Place Retirement Community connect over coffee and music. (Carrie O’Neill - Contributed)

Armstrong seniors connect through music

Heaton Place residents dive into some good coffee and better music

Special to the Morning Star

“Where words fail, music speaks,” a quote from Hans Christian Anderson, says it all.

Some residents of Heaton Place experienced this when attending last week’s Saturday morning activity called Coffee and Conversations with Carrie.

“Residents gather in a circle for coffee, cookies and personal connections,” Heaton Place Retirement Community resident relations coordinator Carrie O’Neill said. “In this space, anyone can join in or just listen, while others may feel inclined to share on the topic being discussed and how it relates to their own lives.”

Fascinating ways music affects your mood and mind was the topic of discussion.

“It was very powerful,” O’Neill said.

The circle started out by taking a moment to be calm and still. The song Jambalaya by Daniel O’Donnell began playing on the speaker: “Goodbye Joe, he gotta go, me oh my oh…”

As the song played, the energy in the room changed. Residents’ toes began to tap, smiles appeared on their faces and even some were singing along. There was a pause in the music and then we heard bagpipes playing the classic hymn of Amazing Grace.

You can imagine how the room and mood changed; tears and heartfelt memories surfaced.

Some residents were able to open up and share their personal memories that were associated with this song.

It was very touching. Next, Jesus Loves Me came on and when one of the women in the circle was asked to share how that song affected her, she replied with tears rolling down her face; “My mom used to sing me that song every single morning before I went to school, I think she intended on reminding me that I am loved.”

With a pause in the room for everyone to be grounded again, the music continued to play. Good ole’ Johnny Cash began to play, “Get Rhythm… when you get the blues.”

With laughter, one of our fellows shared about an experience he had, related to this song… it involved getting bucked off his pony.

The conversations were very impactful for everyone. At just the right time to close out our time together perfectly, Irish resident Sam graciously sang a beautiful Irish song, “Mountains of Mourne.”

Music, laughter, recaptured memories, connection and feeling uplifted were all real experiences we shared together. Next Saturday will be something different, but whatever the topic is, without a doubt it will bring folks together and connected!

In these challenging pandemic times, it’s important to keep your toolbox full of helpful tools you can reach for when feeling down or sad.

Music is certainly one of those tools. It is scientifically proven that music stimulates emotions through specific circuits. Listening to music increases our levels of dopamine, which plays a significant role in how we feel and experience pleasure.

Music is something very special. Some call it a universal language, while others call it the window to the soul.

“I was touched to see the souls of many of my residents, while we listened to music, then shared and connected from our hearts,” O’Neill said.

Heaton Place has a wide variety of social and recreation activities scheduled daily.

“We have something interesting for everyone!” O’Neill said. “Our suites are filling up fast; we have only two one-bedroom suites available.”

Those interested in scheduling a personal tour can call Carrie O’Neill at 250-546-3353 ext 506.

READ MORE: Benefits of storytelling boost quality of life for Armstrong seniors

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