Earlier this month during Techweek DC, AARP hosted an event at its Hatchery incubator, and the emphasis was on startups working with the aging population. One such company was SingFit, a music therapy application that won AARP’s Dementia Care Technology and Innovation award, and uses technology to get seniors moving and singing in order to improve their cognitive health.
The company developed an app that allows facility caregivers or people trained in using the program to select songs from different themed playlists that older singers might better remember, according to Rachel Francine, SingFit’s cofounder and CEO, who was at the event. Their technology is also customized to provide a track called LyricCoach, which speaks the lyrics to the song just before they should be sung to prompt the older singers on what they should sing, said Andy Tubman, another cofounder and Chief Clinical Officer, who was at the event to present SingFit. This technology may sound like it disrupts the song, but it allows singers with vision problems or dementia to still be able to participate, the company’s website explains.
Research shows that singing is an activity that uses not just the left or right side of the brain, but engages the whole brain. This fact can be key for people who have suffered a stroke or other event that reduces their brain activity. Singing can help reactivate neural pathways on both sides of the brain. Sometimes, music therapy can also lead seniors to regain speech ability after aphasia, or loss of speech, Francine said.
Singing regularly also elevates seniors’ moods. The company’s website states that in a 12 week study they did in 11 different communities, SingFit found that there was on average a 43 percent elevation in mood when seniors participated in SingFit sessions. And since the sessions also build movement in with the singing, SingFit can also be a good form of physical exercise as well a healthy mental workout.