This is part of our Story series. Read more LSS Stories.
Heisinger Bluffs on Drums Alive day has a different feel. Residents are wearing bright neon shirts and reminding one another that today is Drums Alive. In the afternoon, large exercise balls are rolled in and set on top of baskets. Drumsticks and pool noodles are handed out. As the Motown music begins to play, the patterned drumming begins and smiles spread across faces.
This is Drums Alive – an exercise program using music and drumming to give participants a full workout. A typical class is about 30 minutes of drumming, starting with a warm up to prepare for fast-paced drumming then ending with a cool down.
“It’s a good workout!” says Sarah March, Director of Resident Services at Heisinger Bluffs. “Drums Alive works arms, core, obliques, and back. Participants do reaches – high and low, side to side.”
The exercise program brings much more than just a physical workout. Drums Alive improves mental awareness as participants concentrate on following the instructor often doing multiple movements at once such as drumming with both hands and tapping feet.
“It’s a great upper body exercise, and if you do all the things you are supposed to do it helps with your figure,” says Shirley Wellman, Heisinger Bluffs resident and a participant in Drums Alive. “Keeping my upper body in good shape is really important to me, at my age I may need help getting out of bed someday and this is a great exercise for that.”
“Drums Alive brings the biggest crowd of all the activities,” adds Dee Morarity, another resident at Heisinger Bluffs and a Drums Alive participant. “The instructor, Kelly, is so good and keeps everybody going. It’s something we look forward to.”
Heisinger Bluffs offers the classes at all levels of living as the program is very adaptable. For arthritic residents, pool noodles can be subbed for the drumsticks. The class can also be done sitting or standing.
“This is one class we can do a community-wide class, we can adapt the class and everyone can participate,” adds March. “Music resonates with everyone. Our residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia do very well with the class and following the music.”
The first Care Center Drums Alive class is still one that stands out to March and her team. They set up the balls and handed out the drumsticks, and the team was eager to see how residents would interact with the program. When the music began to play the residents started drumming along! The Care Center nursing staff were impressed by how residents engaged with this class.
But Heisinger Bluffs isn’t keeping this successful program a secret! They presented the program to colleagues at the Missouri League of Nursing Conference, discussing the certification process, how to adapt the program, and the success they’ve had with Drums Alive. The team will be presenting at more conferences in the future – including Health and Human Services and Veteran Affairs conferences.
“It’s a great stress reliever,” says March. “Our residents say they feel so energized after class, and that’s just a great thing to hear.”
Heisinger Bluffs is also sharing their success with other LSS communities! Laclede Groves, located in Webster Groves, Missouri, and Concordia Village, in Springfield, Illinois, recently started offering Drums Alive. These residents are seeing the benefits just like they have at Heisinger Bluffs.