I’d like to tell you the story of Jay Hickerson, a talented and popular entertainer who brought the healing power of music to residents in nursing homes for over 25 years.
Like many musicians, Jay was passionate about helping others, and used his considerable talents to reach people. In the late 1980’s, Jay began playing at the Whitney Center, a not-for-profit senior living community in Hamden, Connecticut, where his mother was a resident. After his performance, he was quickly asked to return. Before long, word of mouth took over and Jay was in demand at many Connecticut nursing homes, eventually performing at over 100 retirement communities, convalescent homes, senior centers and hospitals.
The secret of Jay’s success was that he involved his audience, often asking questions about their lives, their favorite memories, and their most beloved songs. “When I enter a home, I asked everyone’s favorite song,” he said. “It becomes a personal thing. It gets their minds stimulated.” For us at Music & Memory, this is near and dear to our hearts, since so much of what we do centers around finding someone’s favorite music.
Today, we remember Jay for his generous spirit and for the countless hours of joy he brought to the lives of many elders in residential care. As an entertainer, he understood the healing power of music; how it can enhance someone’s quality of life by restoring their sense of identity and connection to others.