Local seniors bust a move at silent dance party

New technology reduces social isolation in seniors

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. – You're never too old to have a good time. New technology is reducing social isolation in local seniors and putting a smile on their faces.

Tapping feet, swinging arms and wiggling hips filled a room at the Christiansburg Commonwealth Senior Living center Thursday afternoon.

Residents like Velma Fisher and Richard DeBusk danced through the decades to their favorite tunes.

"Tap my feet and hum," Fisher said.

"I like that bebop stuff," DeBusk said.

But if you listened, you wouldn't hear any music. That's because it was playing through Eversound wireless headphones, made for senior citizens. One in 3 seniors in the U.S. has hearing loss.

"They're a godsend to me. I've got hearing aides but I don't wear them all the time," Fisher said.

The headphones aren't just an excuse to have a fun dance party, but they also help seniors reduce social isolation, which can be detrimental to overall health.

"Eating habits change. Sleeping habits change," said the Christiansburg center's executive director, April Thomason.

 National Institutes of Health researchers found a strong association between hearing loss and depression.

Thomason said the headphones, which were introduced into the centers three years ago, are life-changing because they help seniors communicate with others. And listening to music can help people with memory loss focus on a task and can reduce tremors in people with Parkinson's disease.

"I once had a resident who was nonverbal," Thomason said. "She used the Eversound headphones and I walked in one day to her singing 'Amazing Grace.' Just heart-touching."

At 94 years old, Fisher doesn't dance.

"I don't have that action now. I'm afraid I'll strip a gear," she said.

However, she still sang along and had a good time.

"I loved it," Fisher said. "I love to be with people."

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