Can You Hear Me? is a singalong radio program that highlights older voices to address stigma and increases wellbeing through creative engagement. There is a mounting body of evidence linking loneliness in older adults to accelerated cognitive and functional decline. Engagement in singing groups and other creative experiences has been shown to address the health and wellbeing of older adults, including their experience of connectedness, loneliness and isolation.
Because in-person singing groups are not possible at this time, this pilot proposes an alternative model for creative individual and community engagement. Can You Hear Me? is an innovative participatory radio show with an accompanying Creativity Guide, accessible to anyone with a radio or internet connected device. The pre-recorded show will include: 1) live music of a variety of genres, requested over the previous week by the audience, facilitated in a singalong style; 2) audio clips of the voices of elder listeners singing, introducing songs, sharing stories, poems, etc.; 3) current information on available health and social services and how they can be accessed. For further engagement, the accompanying Creativity Guides will include lyrics and prompts for other creative experiences that can be done in any setting and with basic materials (drawing, collaging, writing poems/letters, experiencing nature, etc.).
This pilot engages a network of partner organizations that will assist in building a broad audience for the show, developing and distributing the Guides and evaluating the initiative’s aims, with a specific focus towards reaching individuals with dementia and their carers and those who are at higher risk of loneliness and isolation. Impact: In the absence of a cure for dementia, Alzheimer’s, or COVID-19, it is imperative that we work to build ways for elders to be socially connected wherever they live, to provide opportunities for them to engage actively and creatively, and to provide information about available health and social services. This pilot provides just such an initiative in the Louisville area, to be a model for arts-driven community engagement that not only addresses health inequities and stigmas of aging and dementia, but also has the capacity to enhance wellbeing and connect people, even in times of isolation.