Residents of Independence Houses assisted living community had the chance to go back in time and get down to their favorite childhood tunes on Sunday afternoon at the Northview location during a special prom-themed event thrown by the staff.
About 40 residents from all three of the Independence Houses facilities were in attendance, some dressed up in tuxedos and prom dresses. Independence Houses general manager Brandy Higgins said the tuxedos, dresses and decorations were all donated to the event from businesses and private donors after a Facebook post about the event went viral.
"It just got a huge response for the community," Higgins said. "Everybody just thought it was really heartwarming that we were doing this with residents with dementia."
The event was held in the facility's dining room, which had been transformed into a dance floor with balloons, streamers and even a DJ spinning Frank Sinatra and Buddy Holly records. The facility specifically serves senior citizens with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. By engaging patients with music from their childhood with a familiar environment, the prom was able to tap into their long-term memory and remind them of a happy time, according to Independence Houses marketing director Dave Polson.
"Prom is one of those sorts of experiences that everyone has had and most of us remember," he said. "This lets them dance and hear their favorite music and bring back those long-term memories that made them happy so many years ago."
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Once word got out to the residents, Higgins said everyone became excited.
"A lot of the ladies have been asking constantly about getting their hair done and getting ready for the prom," she said. "They were very excited."
Nurses danced with residents, some getting out of their wheelchairs to get in step with the beat. Northview resident Tippy Tussey said the facility hadn't ever had an event like the prom before and she was happy to see her fellow residents getting up and moving around.
"We don't really do much, but this is different. This really takes them back to their childhood," she said. "I hope they make this an annual thing."
While Higgins said the process of organizing the event was chaotic at times, she said everything fell into place and watching everyone dance and be with their families was the ultimate payoff.
"Just watching them hear the music and light up with a smile on their face makes all of this worth it," she said.
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