This article appeared in the Winter 2008 issue of Texoma Living!.
By Elizabeth Fulce
Doris K. always enjoyed dancing. Even as Alzheimer’s disease stole her independence, friends who came to visit her at Pecan Point Assisted Living and Memory Care, noticed a familiar twinkle in her eye whenever she heard music.
“We began dancing with her and she just blossomed,” said Barbara Boland of Sherman, “and when the other residents saw how much fun she was having, they wanted to dance too.”
Boland, a former middle school teacher, and her husband Bob, a retired firefighter, enlisted family and friends to join them at Pecan Point from 6 to 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Volunteers dance with residents to the music of the River Bottom Boys & Lady, a local band.
“Band members laugh, tell jokes and play songs the residents remember,” Boland said. “Even those who have mobility issues get in on the action. All they need is someone to grab their hands and boogie.”
The community’s assisted living residents enjoy the music and dancing as much as the memory care residents do. “No matter who they are, music is an important stimulus,” said Lynnette Stroebele, executive director at Pecan Point. “Even the memory care residents seem to have an awakening of sorts. Music seems to draw them back.”
Stroebele said she appreciates the commitment of the band and dancers. “It’s a very good hometown band,” she said. “They and the dance volunteers just love our residents, and residents are receptive to that. You don’t have to be a resident to participate in our programs. Our little community is part of the greater Texoma community, and we hope folks will stop by for the fun.”
How You Can Help
If you’re interested in volunteering for the dance activity, or want to learn about other volunteer opportunities at Pecan Point, contact Selina Kinghammer, Life Enrichment Coordinator, at (903) 892-9100. Most nursing homes and senior care facilities employ activity directors who can tell you about the programs available. It’s not for everyone. It takes the ability to be compassionate and understand the limitations that many seniors have. Facility staff personnel can provide a complete briefing on the policies of their individual facility.