By Claudia Calleja
Animators enliven the show for residents at St Vincent De Paul home for the elderly.
Photo: Matthew Mirabelli.
Rhythm and song are acting as a youth elixir for elderly people who are being encouraged to forget their age and worries for a few hours and concentrate on having some fun.
Residents in old people’s homes around the island are swinging their hips and tapping their feet to the beat of music provided by a group of animators from the Malta Drama Centre that is touring the residences this summer. Even those with walking aids dance on their wheelchairs or walkers and participate in the fun. Old men and women are also encouraged to reminisce about their past during the events organised in association with the Family Ministry, the Secretariat for the Elderly and the Directorate for Lifelong Learning.
The activities include Spanish dancing, choral singing in Maltese, English and Italian and għana spirtu pront (improvised folk singing).
“The aim of the project is to provide entertaining, interactive activities for the elderly and offer alternative personal and communal therapy for the residents,” said project coordinator Mario Azzopardi.
Patricia Gatt, involved in the project as a field researcher, explained that the programme addressed both elderly people who were full of energy and the more fragile ones. While some of the residents, almost 100 years old, recited rhymes Maltese women used to come up with while doing the washing, others had to make a bigger effort to access the past.
“There have been a considerable number of residents who find it hard to challenge feelings of isolation and self-pity. It is here that the arts, especially music and dance, can help in establishing a connection with the past, with one another and help in the release of tension brought on by an array of medical conditions,” she said.
At the moment, there are 690 elderly residents in Church-run homes and 1,005 in government institutions
Folk living in old people’s homes are being nudged into having fun by animators from the Malta Drama Centre who are touring the residences over the summer. The men and women are also being encouraged to reminisce about their past during the events organised in association with the Family Ministry, the Secretariat for the Elderly and the Directorate for Lifelong Learning. Photo:Matthew Mirabelli.
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