Buddy's Glee Club - Baycrest Centre

The Buddy’s Glee Club studies started in 2010 seeking to understand the benefits for older adults, both cognitively intact and/or diagnosed with dementia, from participating in a choir.  In each of three phases, participants took part in a weekly one hour choral program for 16 weeks. 

Phase One involved older adults attending a community Day Program.  Five large themes emerged including: friendship and companionship; simplicity; happiness, uplifting and positive feelings; relaxing and reduced anxiety; and fun. Participants indicated the choir was an overall positive and enjoyable experience which facilitated making friends, and singing familiar songs in a group with others.

Phase Two focused on residents diagnosed with some type of cognitive disorder and focused on changes in pain, mood, anxiety, and energy from the beginning of each session to the end, and also overall change from the beginning of the choral sessions to end.

The average scores of all participant responses showed that for each of the 16 sessions, happiness and mood increased from pre to post-test. Energy increased for 14 sessions, pain decreased for 14 sessions, and anxiety decreased for 11 out of 16 sessions.  Qualitative data saw the emergence of nine major themes: community building/making friends; special moments; climate of positivity; music is therapy; singing makes me feel well/keeps me going; no anxiety at glee; increased mood, energy and alertness; I can do it; and, I love to sing.

Phase Three is currently underway and will be wrapping up in December 2013.  The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of participating in a choir facilitated by a music therapist on the pain, mood, and energy of older adults and their caregivers (spouse, friend, relative, etc.).  This study focuses on older adults who are cognitively intact and/or diagnosed with dementia.

Research Questions
1) What if any are the changes in pain, mood, and energy from the beginning to the end of each session for the significant others/companions and residents singing in the choir?
2) Can singing in a choir facilitate the acquisition of therapeutic goals including: reducing pain, improving mood and energy, increasing social interaction, and improving quality of life?
3) What specific aspects of the choir do the residents and significant others find beneficial?
4) What are the perceived effects of the choir on residents as described by caregivers/significant others of the residents?

The purpose of the proposed project is to examine the effects of choral singing with residents of Baycrest Apotex Centre diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, or Cognitive Impairment, and their caregivers.  This study, “Buddy’s Glee Club 3” aims to expand the research by focusing on the effects of singing in a choir with residents diagnosed with cognitive disorders, and to also examine the perceived effects of the choir on integrating care givers of the Apotex’s participants.

This study will contain three different subject groups. The first subject group involves residents diagnosed with cognitive impairment and will focus on changes in pain, mood, social interactions, and energy from the beginning of each session to the end, and will also focus on overall change from the beginning of the choir sessions to the end of the choir sessions. The second subject group contains significant others’ (S.O.’s)/ caregivers of the residents, including spouses, children, relatives, or private caregivers. The S.O’s/ caregivers will also be examined to observe changes in pain, mood, and energy, and also their perceived benefits of the choir for themselves and their loved one/ friend. The third group consists of Baycrest staff, volunteers and/or students who are involved in each week’s session.

For more information on the Buddy's Glee Club studies, visit www.baycrest.org or contact researcher Amy Clements-Cortes at aclements@baycrest.org