MorningStar of Billings
The MorningStar of Billings Readers Theater gives senior living residents a way to enjoy many emotional, mental, and social benefits that participating in the performing arts offers.
Nothing against the fun of a spirited bingo competition, a challenging game of chess, or participating in a knitting group, but these days seniors residing in an independent or assisted living community often have a much more engaging option for intellectual stimulation and social engagement.
And that’s participating in a theater group.
Research has shown that learning new skills is an effective way to slow down the aging process. In addition to providing older adults with a deeply satisfying sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, and empowerment, working to develop a mastery of a new field of interest has important benefits for the brain.
That seems to be especially true when it comes to taking acting classes.
A 2008 study published by the Journal on Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition that focused on seniors who took acting classes found that it improved comprehension and memory – reducing the age-related decline of cognitive skills by nearly 50%. In addition, it also had the benefit of fostering creativity.
That last component is especially important for seniors. Engaging in creative activities has been shown to reduce anxiety and lower the risk of depression.
And the benefits don’t stop with the brain. Getting involved with the performing arts can:
- Improve Physical Health – Acting and other performing arts like dancing often require seniors to use their body as a form of artistic expression. This can provide an enjoyable way to get physical exercise that doesn’t involve traditional workout routines. Better physical health and balance can result in fewer falls as well as reduce doctor and emergency room visits.
- Build Social Connections – Acting isn’t a solitary pursuit. A big part of this performing art involves interacting with others. Practicing lines, rehearsing scenes, and even simply being a part of the audience draws seniors together in a shared experience which can reduce the isolation and sense of loneliness that many older adults experience.
- Enhance Group Relationships – Depending on the type and subject of the play, dramatic role playing can provide a comfortable place for seniors to honestly express their feelings about the challenges of aging to their peers, caregivers, and families.
Seniors residing in an independent or assisted living senior community may be able to enjoy the benefits of being part of an acting troupe through a local theatre group. For those lucky enough to be part of a community that has their own in-house troupe, this engaging activity may be just down the hall.
That’s been the experience of members of MorningStar of Billings Readers Theater. Located in the town of Billings, Montana, this innovative community currently has an active and engaging inhouse-troupe made up of 11 residents aged 80 to 95.
Far from being elaborate and complicated, this community’s drama group concept is about as simple as you can get. There are no costumes. Members simply dress in simple all-black outfits. There is no curtain-draped stage. The performance area is just a corner of the room. As for the sets? Even more basic. Just a prop or two and a narrator who verbally describes when and where the action is happening and who the characters are which sets the stage for what is about to happen.
While many theater groups are more physically active, this one has the actors delivering their lines (which are read, not memorized) seated in chairs. This relaxed arrangement lets its less mobile and slightly memory-challenged members to fully participate in every production.
The group is an active one. They practice every Thursday afternoon and put on at least three performances a year. It began during the worst of the pandemic when senior living communities were virtually closed off from the outside world. So, they decided to make their own fun and create a community activity where residents could come together to laugh, socialize, and enjoy a glass of wine while watching an engaging theatrical performance.
The result is a troupe that is one where friendships have been forged and strengthened, spirits have been lifted, and everyone has gotten a little peppier. That’s what the best of life is all about. And the members of the MorningStar of Billings Readers Theaters and their audience have found it by creating a space where they can enjoy all the emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual benefits that participating in the performing arts offers.
MorningStar Senior Living — Assisted Living Community
If your loved one lives far from family and friends, it could be time to move into an assisted living community nearer to their adult children where they’ll have the companionship of fellow seniors and a compassionate service team. At MorningStar Senior Living, a 24/7 team is dedicated to offering care and hospitality services that meet each resident’s social, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.