By Rose de la Cruz I Published: August 6, 2020
Cabin fever. Claustrophobic. Restless.
Since they had been restricted from going out since the government mandated community quarantine from March 16 as a precautionary move from contracting the coronavirus disease, these aptly describe how senior citizens generally feel.
Many have become irritable, to the point of harboring negativity, confined just within the four corners of their homes.
A Way Out Of Anxiety
Musikgarten Manila proprietor, Nikki Junia, an active director of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, thought of a concept to alleviate the understandable mood of senior citizens in this dilemma.
Nikki, who had a serious bout with asthma recently, was forced to lock down her schools as well. “I had asthmatic bronchitis before the quarantine started.”
With music deeply rooted in her system, found herself with erratic blood pressure that could not teach musical instruments or voice lessons.
During the ECQ, Nikki said she experienced shortness of breath in vocalizing after a long period of hiatus from teaching music. “What caused my shortness of breath was the absence of teaching voice lessons since the time of lockdown.”
But she pursued vocalization and, now, her lungs got stronger.
Nikki discovered through research that health issues could be minimized, if not corrected, by vocalization.
“There is a way to go about this dilemma: vocal exercises, where they would learn the proper breathing, stretch those idle cords, and give them a reason to sway with the melody, rhythm and beat they are producing,” Nikki said of what she could share with the elderly.
For Health Reasons
Vocal exercising is just as tedious as swimming and it involves moving the entire body, including the brain, said Nikki.
The concept of setting up an online vocal exercise workshop came to the fore.
Nikki had in mind the ageing community to help them get rid of boredom, restlessness, anxiety, dementia, or even alleviate Parkinson’s Disease. All these could be aggravated by the absence of physical and social activities.
Utilizing Zoom app, workshops could be held every Friday, from 9 to 9:30 in the morning.
Initially, Nikki hopes to gather 10 persons for every session of vocal exercises at an introductory price of only P300 each.
Since senior citizens are not as tech savvy as the millennials or Generations X, Y and Z, Nikki advised them to let their children or grandchildren to assist their elderly in downloading the Zoom app and in logging in for their online vocal exercise workshops.
“We can all have fun and exercise together happily,” Nikki said referring to the involvement of the younger ones in assisting the elderly operate their laptops or computers.
Nikki differentiates the vocal workshops from music therapy offered abroad since “we are not going to involve any particular song or piece but just exercising their vocal cords and proper breathing.”
“Proper singing technique will discipline the use of your lungs, and hence toughen it,” she said. “Since most of you cannot do outdoor exercise or go swimming, where you can do breathing exercises, singing would be a good alternative for your breathing exercise?”
“Being able to exercise within the comforts of your home and not exerting so much physical effort is truly very enticing.”
“Singing or vocalization is much like swimming lessons because you stretch the vocal muscles and the lungs. Apart from the respiratory benefits, singing also boosts the immune system,” Nikki explained.
The amount of immune system that functions as antibodies known as immunoglobulin are significantly higher after singing, research shows.
Also, singing can also exercise the brain because as we grow older our memory tends to weaken or deteriorate. In this respect, she said, singing helps, said Nikki.
“Singing releases positive chemicals called endorphin, which makes us feel good. Endorphins are mostly released when we sing and when released, it makes us happy, joyful and uplifts our spirits, which contributes to our mental well being. Like, they say I am happy because I sing,” Nikki stressed.
Not For Competition
Since we had been confined to our homes for months now, it is important to take care of our mental health, she said.
“To the lolos and lolas out there, to improve our mental health and remove our anxieties, it would be good to join me in a 30-minute group vocal workout via Zoom,” Nikki said.
“I just want to help the seniors find something meaningful to do that has health benefits. They will exercise their lungs, stomach and their facial muscles as well. They will have plenty of body movement while singing and this would also help in their bodily coordination, which deteriorates as one grows older,” she emphasized.
“They do not have to have a good singing voice as this workshop is not for competition or talent development but more for health and well-being, melody, beat and rhythm to strengthen their physique.”
Cluster By Age
Thirty minutes of continuous vocalization could be tiresome, at the start.
“But I will make sure there would be some socialization and story-telling in between,” Nikki said. Meeting people would make them feel younger.
She also assured prospective enrollees that the exercises would be age-appropriate and health history or pre-existing would be considered “so I would know how to handle them.
Nikki said she would be bracketing her students by 10-year clusters with senior ages starting at 60.
Payment for each session could be made through GCash, PayMaya or bank transfers or call 09178599936 for inquiries.
For details please call 0917-8599936