Every day, a cadre of musicians, singers and entertainers brings bright moments to seniors, working the parlors of area independent living and assisted living communities, skilled nursing, memory care and rehab facilities.
Some make a living performing full time for senior audiences; others supplement what they earn at weddings, bars and private parties. Many senior communities have activities directors with budgets for entertainment. Performers earn $75 to $150 per gig, and for those with audience appeal, the work is steady, according to the Dallas News.
Communities pay for entertainers because music and other performing arts are healing, especially for those with dementia, said Clair Jameson, director of life engagement for Irving-based Autumn Leaves memory care communities.
"Music can unlock doors to happy memories," she says. "When performers visit, even residents who are no longer responsive to their environment will start to pay attention, tap their feet and smile."
Most performers travel solo, setting up and tearing down their own gear. Shows usually run about an hour, and many performers stay afterward to chat with the residents and get to know their names.
One key qualification: a heart for seniors. Performers on this circuit can't take it personally if one or two in the audience sleep through the performance. And they must have the energy and chutzpah to get residents moving and keep them engaged.
Read examples including Cowboy Bob, Domingo Elvis, and Art the Ivory Tickler at the Dallas News website.