Residents from several Western Washington Aegis Living facilities enjoyed 1950s-era music and dancing at a Jumpin’ Jive Lounge on Wednesday, April 17.
More than 400 residents, 200 in each shift, came together with family and friends to relive an atmosphere that defined a golden era in their lives. With an average age of 83, residents from the Aegis Living communities, including former Queen Anne residents, swing-danced in poodle skirts and fedoras at the Georgetown Ballroom in Seattle.
The Jumpin’ Jive Lounge is the first in a series of events in Aegis’ “Blue Moon Series,” which seeks to revitalize the sometimes-monotonous daily lives of those in assisted-living care.
Aegis Living CEO and founder Dwayne Clark said he started the “Blue Moon Series” to invigorate its residents and give them a sense of normalcy.
“We want to bring back excitement in people’s lives. We can do this with moments of joy, an hour of smiling, laughing and dancing,” he said. “People like to dress up and look beautiful — this is what people did in the ‘50s. It provides a lot of comfort to the residents.”
A stimulating experience
Clark, whose mother had Alzheimer’s disease for seven years, has worked in assisted-living communities from a young age. He started his first facility in California, and since then, 28 have been constructed in Washington, California and Nevada. Six more facilities are in construction, including one on East Galer Street in Queen Anne.
For residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, Aegis’ chief wellness officer Shirley Newell said music and other unique aspects from their past can revitalize their senses.
“Most people with dementia live in the moment,” she said. “Music defines experiences from the past. It’s so stimulating that it reactivates and wakes up the pathways in the brain.”
Newell said that it is astonishing to see people with dementia and Alzheimer’s who don’t often come out of themselves at events like the Jumpin’ Jive Lounge. She said people with these conditions have a difficult time activating their short-term memory but find it easier to retain long-term ones.
Residents were lively on the dance floor as “The Bird Watchers” played the standard swing numbers from the 1950s. Aegis Living resident Don Clark said he hadn’t been to a dance like this in awile.
“I used to enter swing and waltz dance competitions, but I haven’t been to anything like this, not in a long time,” he said.