Synth Therapy for the Elderly

My father is going to be 77 years old in March. He lives within walking distance from me, but he insists on living alone. He likes his space. He is still very much alive and kicking. Still very capable in spirit but growing quite a bit less capable physically and mentally to do anything he really enjoys. The result is he gets very bored. Complex tasks confuse him quite easily and very quickly so he can only engage in simple activities for leisure or entertainment. I recently built for him a very simple 3 oscillator drone synth based on the s9018 transistor reverse avalanche design by Sam. It has brought so much enjoyment to his daily life. He is eager to try new “toys” as he calls them. He wants more synths… I’m not at all surprised. I want to thank everyone who supports this page and others like it. This place is where it all started for me, and it has helped make my dad’s life brighter, as well.


What an amazing idea!

Mental stimulation is so important to stay healthy at age. Fighting isolation and boredom is key. I’m very glad he likes his synths.

I used to work in mental health care and psychogeriatry and participated in several sorts of musical therapy and activities.
I can really say it has beneficial effects for the patient/client, but i always found it biased in a way. It’s always very guitar/keys oriented (not a problem for me) and always playing certain kinds of folk music and local music.
I live in the south of the Netherlands so there’s also a lot of André Rieu, which i would describe as boiled down ‘classical’ music for the masses.

Personally not a fan, but hey if the patient likes it it’s ok with me.

Only while observing the clients and reading their files, i noticed not everyone likes the music in the group activities and might feel bored or left put because they can’t participate or sing.
Also, some don’t handle group activities very well.

There are lots of different controlled sensory input therapies, based on lights, sounds and feel. Often there are special rooms for this where the client can be alone.
Only have i never heard of an activity like this where the client can explore musical textures and sounds their own and i REALLY like your idea.
I can think of several clients who would have certainly liked it as well.

If you want, keep us updated, i’d love to see the toys you come up with and the effects they have on your father. :slight_smile:


I will keep this thread up to date. I’m finishing up a simple r.c. filter with a vactrol lfo to hook up to his drone. I ran out of solder and it needs a light to finish it off. He likes the lights, too. :grin:


Who doesn’t like the lights :slight_smile:
Mine doesn’t even make sound all the time, sometimes i don’t even turn on the amp and jist play with the lights.


Blinky lights and happy bleeps often make my day more bright. :slight_smile:


And that is the entire foundation for my reasoning! Exactly! :grin: I know how much fun I have with simplest components…bleep bloop…blinkity blink…:100::metal:

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He is so intimidated it’s hard to get him to even try something sometimes. I’m working him up to the other components. Lol. The lights he enjoys and he has always enjoyed music. He’s always encouraged me to listen to the music I enjoyed even though he didn’t enjoy it necessarily. Which brings me to a point you made in your previous post about the bias when it comes to the choice of music you’ve noticed in therapy application. It occurred to me that my father was not necessarily a fan of synthetic music as it pertains to the type of music I like to produce with synths. Nonetheless I wanted to test that very hypothesis: does the accessibility and ability to modulate the sound with ease and simplicity provide enjoyment and benefit regardless of his musical tastes? So far it has not been an issue in the least. In fact, the simplicity of the task is the first barrier to overcome. He enjoys the activity so much that it doesn’t matter to him that it sounds like a bad sci-fi movie instead of a guitar…:rofl::space_invader:


I was thinking maybe trying ‘softer’ less agressive sounds, like sine waves and maybe smooth reverb sounds.
Also the textures and colors of the used materials are something to be explored, as touch is an important sensory input.

Wood and incandescent lights or maybe yellow leds would maybe feel less intimidating for people of age :slight_smile: