Background: Ninety percent of long-term care (LTC) residents experience some form of cognitive impairment. Social support may benefit cognition by decreasing depressive symptoms and loneliness, which are commonly reported among LTC residents.
Objective: To investigate the effects of the Java Music Club (JMC), a manualized social support program, on cognition and psychosocial health among LTC residents using a pre-post mixed-methods approach.
Methods: The JMC was implemented once a week for twelve weeks. Participants (n = 24, 91.7% female) completed cognitive tasks and psychosocial questionnaires before (T1), after (T2), and twelve weeks following (T3) participation in the JMC. Qualitative interviews were conducted at T2 with participants and recreation coordinators.
Results: Analyses showed decreased loneliness from T1 to T2 (t = 3.31, p = .003) and reductions in depressive symptoms (F = 3.459, p = .043) and subjective memory complaints (F = 3.837, p = .048) from T2 to T3. Participants' qualitative interviews (N = 19) illustrate that the JMC was a positive experience that promoted social engagement. Important group elements included the group facilitator and group composition. Possible process elements included social engagement, the opportunity for reminiscence, and the ability of both social interaction and singing to benefit the residents and lift their 'spirits'. Recreation coordinators (N = 3) reported that the group was unlike currently available group programs and increased socialization between residents.
Conclusions: Participation in the JMC may be a promising approach to counter loneliness, depressive symptoms and subjective memory complaints in LTC residents.
Keywords: Social support; cognition; older adults; psychosocial health.