Wellness Program Helps Seniors Keep Calm and Drum On

by | May 2019

A circle of seniors drum at HealthRHYTHMS at White Bear Lake's Redeemer Lutheran Church

Photo: Joel Schnell

HealthRHYTHMS allows seniors to enjoy the art of drumming.

Every second Monday of the month, the beat of drums can be heard in White Bear Lake’s Redeemer Lutheran Church. The music is part of a wellness program geared towards elders called HealthRHYTHMS, which brings joy and provides opportunities for socialization.

HealthRHYTHMS is offered through 2nd Half with Lyngblomsten, which is located in Redeemer Lutheran and provides life-enrichment services and opportunities for those 50 and older.

Cheri Bunker, who leads the HealthRHYTHMS sessions, says drumming has many benefits.

“HealthRHYTHMS is an evidence-based wellness program owned by the drum-producing company REMO Inc. People come together in community to drum with each other. Along with drumming, we do other wellness practices like tai chi and meditation. HealthRHYTHMS classes are offered as group sessions in schools, senior communities, disability communities, retreats, support groups and more,” says Bunker, who completed special training and is a Remo-endorsed HealthRHYTHMS facilitator.

Bunker also heads another drumming program called Drums Alive Golden Beats—an exercise class that uses drums and other hand percussion instruments as the equipment, which Bunker teaches primarily in assisted living and memory care communities, she says.

“People don’t need to know how to drum—they are smiling and having the best time while drumming,” says Bunker.

Bunker began her drumming journey nearly 20 years ago after attending a drum circle and feeling the positive effects it had on her well-being. She kept drumming and began training in the HealthRHYTHMS program, which she has now been running for the past 15 years.

“I felt so good after each session myself that I was motivated to help others achieve this same uplifted feeling,” Bunker says.

Bunker finds a powerful connection between drumming and overall wellness.

“Drumming can boost mood and take people’s minds off all the worries and stresses that come with everyday life,” says Bunker. She says that while she primarily works with elders, anyone can sign up for a class or request her services at an event. Bunker has witnessed people of all ages, ability levels and physical capabilities experience the same joy she feels when she is drumming. Bunker also leads sessions in Minneapolis, St. Paul and other communities further away from the metropolitan area, she says.

Bunker says the practice of drumming has been bringing happiness and hope to those who have been unable to participate in other recreational activities. She sees drumming as a positive way for people to let go of grief and anxieties. “This activity brings people together so they can not only experience and express emotions but feel as though they are safe within the community of other drummers,” says Bunker.

Bunker says, “All the smiles and joy when people find out they can drum and how good it makes them feel—I have watched so many incredible things happen in the drum circle.”

Every second Monday of the month at 10 a.m. at Redeemer Lutheran Church
3550 Bellaire Ave., White Bear Lake


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