Drumming program helping to keep seniors' brains on the beat | WNYT.com
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Drumming program helping to keep seniors' brains on the beat

August 30, 2019 06:02 PM

WATERVLIET - Looking for something to help you be happy?  How about relieve stress and even pain? Then try drumming.

The research is clear that drumming is good for us in many ways. That's why it's being embraced at a senior independent living center in Watervliet.

Turns out, something as simple as drumming is good for so much of what ails us.

Perhaps more importantly, it can help prevent trouble, keeping it at bay.

Just ask the folks at Shaker Pointe - an adult community for active seniors.   

There's a drumming program called Drums Alive, which encompasses the many positives of drumming. An offshoot of that is Golden Beat, geared to seniors. While it may not be as physical as traditional drumming, there's no question it resonates with participants.

The program was recently introduced at Shaker Pointe, an independent living community in Latham. Every week, residents gather to beat the drum slowly - or quickly - but with the same results.

"Not only are they having fun, but they're learning coordination. They're learning balance," said Kerry Engle, the fitness director at Shaker Pointe.

It's just a few of the pluses of getting into the beat. Drumming has been shown to reduce stress.

"I think this is the best fun and the greatest stress reliever that I have in my life," said Barbara Donnaruma, one of the participants.

It's more than simply banging on the drum, or in this case, large colorful balls. There are patterns to follow - giving your brain a workout.

"I just love it. I can feel the rhythmic vitality, the energy in the room, and it's almost like I feel my brain getting tweaked," said Ann Krupski, another participant.

"This class, the way that they've designed it, it is actually trying to produce new neurons in the brain that can go different pathways. I believe it's called neuroplasticity," said Engle.

"It helps me mentally, tremendously," said Mike Storonsky, a third participant.

He says because he has to follow the patterns.

"Because drumming is bilateral, it helps strengthen the less dominant hemisphere of the brain," said Engle.

"I feel that I've benefited from the time and effort I've put in," said Storonsky.

Not all of the 45-minute class is spent drumming. It's about the patterns. While it may look like child's play, it takes serious concentration. 

While this is a whole body workout, no one's breaking a sweat. However, that doesn't mean they're not building muscle - and perhaps more importantly - is the camaraderie and delight. Remember, laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you.

"I see that they're having a really good time," said Engle.

Research also finds drumming helps to relax you, boosts your immune system, and creates a sense of connectedness.


Benita Zahn

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