Shows for the Elderly?

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Canada Boy » 02/15/08 04:15 PM

Hi, lately I've been doing some shows for Seniors Care Homes. I would like to put together a show specifically for this purpose. However, I have learned quickly that some tricks are not suitable or appropriate for these types of people. They seem to need tricks that are quick, visual, and easy to understand.

Any suggestions on books, tricks, or DVDs?
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Postby Spellbinder » 02/15/08 07:52 PM

Many magicians fall into the trap of performing a "show" at a Senior Care Center. In other words, they get the Seniors in the standard audience places, even if they have to be wheeled into place, and then they expect to perform the show standing at one end of the room and let the seniors watch them perform.

In my experience, having been on both sides of that trap, that is completely the wrong approach. You are better off in a table hopping kind of performance, as the seniors finish a meal in their cafeteria.

Seniors want to meet YOU. They want to talk to YOU. They want you to listen to THEM. They will tell you marvelous stories of the time they went to see Blackstone (or whomever). The magic you do will get them talking and remembering.

Do personal tricks- like the sponge balls where the ball appears in their hands. Keep it simple. Don't challenge their short term memories by asking them to remember a chosen card for very long. Tear the card up, hand them the pieces and let them restore it and open it up themselves.

Talk to them and then be prepared to listen if they want to talk to YOU. If you do, some of them may actually remember you if you go back again. They may even tell stories about YOU to their children or grandchildren on visiting day.

Don't buzz in, show off a bit, and then buzz off. They won't remember you any more than they remember what they saw on the TV news that day.

Give them memories of someone who came by to talk to them and... oh yes, he was the most marvelous magician. I don't recall exactly what he did, but he was very magical.
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Postby Canada Boy » 02/18/08 02:43 PM

Thank you very much Spellbinder. That will be very helpful. I agree that it would be far better to give them some kind of memory to hold on to. I'll have to keep that in mind if I get any bookings in the future.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 02/25/08 10:40 PM

Why do posts about performing for the elderly at nursing homes invariably present the audience as if it were in stage 4 Alzheimer's?

I've performed at many nursing homes and senior activity centers, and have found that in many of these facilities, the residents are sharp as tacks.

A lot of this depends on exactly what kind of a facility it is. There are facilities for people with short term and long term memory problems as well as senile dementia. These are the ones who won't remember what you do if you buzz in, do a show and buzz out.

There are also some centers that have different levels of resident. In one at which I recently performed, there were people who were living there because it was convenient to one of the major shopping areas, had medical care in it, if needed, and it provided a healthy atmosphere for them. About half of the residents were as sharp as John Calvert. Maybe not as physically active, but they still were very sharp and attentive.

In this same facility, there is a floor for those who need constant watching. These are the ones that are like the people Phineas Spellbinder describes.

Your best bet? Ask the people in charge how sharp the people in the audience are. They practially live with them, so they know them very well.
Bill Palmer, MIMC
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Postby Spellbinder » 02/27/08 09:16 PM

I came across this story in the Yahoo News:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080227/lf_ ... bot_dog_dc

Both the reporter and the researchers focus all attention on the live dog versus robot dog and forget that a human being always accompanied either dog to the nursing home. I'm betting that the nursing home patients were interested in whatever the person brought along, whether a real dog or a robot dog, just for the human companionship that came with it, if only for a brief time.
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