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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The tricks are on me! » » Good Tricks For the Elderly or Dying (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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MagicAndBlackjack
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Hey everyone,

Haven't been posting much lately, but I'm back.

I am doing some volunteer work for Hospice, visiting with elderly people that have maybe 6 or less months to live.

I was wondering if there are any tricks with giveaways that are geared toward them. Specifically, any tricks that have a souvenoir for an elderly person.
Or just any tricks that are aimed at an older audience?

Thanks,

TJ
Ryan Birch
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It depends wether or not you are trying to convey a message or just for entertainment.

I have trouble with older people (especially my nan) because even 'weak' effects really do affect her, and I don't want to upset her (because she gets upset).

I dunno about the giveaways either. There are not a lot of routes to take in card magic giveaways, unless you learn oragami Smile . Maybe do a bit of research into their birth date, and place, and try to find a coin with the year, and from the country of birth. Maybe do a card matrix and have the coin appear at the end???

Any help?

Raz
"NO Ryan! I do NOT want to see another one of your silly magic tricks!" - my mum
Frankm6
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Ryan Birch
Very thoughtful. Nice... Thanks- . All I could think of was- anything that will "make'em laugh" and forget their troubles for a few minutes.
Frank Military
MagicAndBlackjack
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Thanks for the ideas. Yea, I really want something that will take their mind off of life and the situation they are in.

Does anyone know where I can get the pearl Poodles?

Thanks.
CamelotFX
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Hey TJ, it's wonderful what you're doing and thank you so much! Have you broached this topic in the gospel magic forum "The Good News?" No, I understand you're not looking for a religious slant, but you might find fellow hospice-workers with experience in working with the terminally ill.
Ryan Birch
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I suppose any trick where they 'do the magic' would have a good effect as they would think about it for a long time. It would probably lift their spirits and make them feel good about themselves. Also would give them something to talk about with the other people.

Raz
"NO Ryan! I do NOT want to see another one of your silly magic tricks!" - my mum
MaGiShN46
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I do magic tricks in those places all the time too. And what I find they mostly like is where I do mentalism or a more old style of "pick a card" trick
MagicAndBlackjack
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Camelot, Thanks for the praise. I was wondering what would be the best place to put this since there is so many areas on this forum, but I forgot about the gospel forum. I'll have to do that.


Raz,thanks for the ideas. I think you have some very good points there.

Magishn, good to see you're volunteering for those type of places, I'll have to try the old fashioned stlye you speak of.

Thanks everyone,

TJ
balducci
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This article may be of interest to some of you:

http://www.online-visions.com/other/0501retirement.html

The author may be a good one to contact for ideas / advice on this topic.
Make America Great Again! - Trump in 2020 ... "We're a capitalistic society. I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They're not going to bail me out. I've been on welfare and food stamps. Did anyone help me? No." - Craig T. Nelson, actor.
slydini9
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I would not do any long counting or dealing tricks, as they couldpass away before the finish. I know that sounds silly but I am actually being perfectly serious..this happened once a verylong time ago at my club..before my time..the magician was not even old but he did have a heart attack during the trick!
Hope this helps!
MagicAndBlackjack
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Balducci, thanks for the link.
Reis O'Brien
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The truth is, if you simply want to give them a moment of joy so they can forget their situation, for even a moment or two, then the effects and/or give-aways aren't going to matter nearly as much as your personality and presentation. The trick will be great, but the smiling face will probably mean more to them in the long run.

I do magic for kids in hospitals, and though they really seem to enjoy the tricks, it seems to me that they are really more appreciative of the time I took to call them by name and show them that despite the uglier sides of life, there is always somebody out there who gives a hoot about them.

And since you're dealing with those not-long-for-this-mortal-coil, I think a give-away is not needed. It's just another accumulation of crap they're going to leave behind anyway. Leave them with a happy memory instead.

Also, I must mention that what you are doing is extremely admirable and I'm glad to know there are more of us out there trying to make a small difference.

Keep it up, mi amigo!
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foolsnobody
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I don't mean to make light of this, but when I saw the title of the thread I thought it was about good tricks for the elderly or dying *to perform* Smile Smile

All I could think of was the IBM ring meetings I used to attend...

Now as I am approaching the life phase known as "geezerdom" myself, my heartfelt belief is that you should not "magish down" for them. Unless they have dementia in some form, do as sophisticated magic as you would for any other group. These people were not born yesterday you know! Just my (harumph!) opinion.

When it comes to the dying, in the sense of close to death rather than in the sense of having a terminal illness but still having some vitality and time left, I don't really feel that magic or any kind of entertainment or distraction is beneficial to the dying person. Mindful presence, touch, and a compassionate heart, are what are important then.
Bill Palmer
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About 20 years ago, I was called upon by one of our local socialites to do a show for a 16 year old boy who was going to undergo open heart surgery the next day. He and his parents were very well aware that he might not make it through the surgery. So I was called in to perform some close-up magic for the three of them.

The last thing you want to even discuss is their situation. The main thing you want to do is to make them laugh. And under no circumstances whatsoever, should you perform for someone who doesn't want to see any magic.

Just approach them with a smile on your face, introduce yourself, ask them what their name is, and if they would like to have a little fun. Then do some lighthearted magic for them. Cheer them up.

The pastor of my church once told me, "I wish I could do what you do -- make people laugh. People who are in the hostpital never really want to see the preacher, because they know it means that they are very ill, and they may not make it. And they don't want to see the doctor, because they know it means more pain is coming. You make people feel good."

So, that's what you really should do. The magic, itself, is not important. The patient is the one who is important.
"The Swatter"

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Rob Johnston
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Bill,

Excellent post. I agree completely.
"Genius is another word for magic, and the whole point of magic is that it is inexplicable." - Margot Fonteyn
CamelotFX
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I never thought about it that way! Now I know why the sight of the preacher or the doctor have always worried me. Yeah, a magician is exactly what I want to see, right after the nurse who works part-time at Hooters. Smile
sirbrad
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I have been performing for retirement homes exclusively for about 15 years now. Thanks Balducci for adding the link to my essay. Smile It is almost always an enjoyable experience, but it can sometimes be a very difficult venue to perform. Keep the effects visual, and the larger the effect the better. You want to do effects that even the most disadvantaged of the group can understand, and follow. Sometimes this may be hard to gauge, but the more experienced you are, the easier you will be able to select what effects, and routines work best with these groups. I am not really saying you have to use effects that require "no" memory or concentration, but keep in mind, it should be very little.

You will be limited to what you can perform due to visual, and hearing limitations. There are exceptions to every rule however, as some of these members are very astute, and very aware as to what is going on. But as I stated, you need to gear your act to the least fortunate so that all can enjoy what you are performing. I am speaking however from a general point of view, as well as a "stage" point of view, and for the majority of what type of audience you will most likely get. A microphone is almost always a necessity. Most facilities will have a mic of some sort already, but maybe not one you enjoy using. Always bring your own if you can, as personal preference is key here.

Close-up can also be done usually. I set a table up front, about 5-10 feet away from my stage table, and about 5-10 feet or so from the audience. This works well for effects that you can walk closer to the audience, allowing them better visibility of what your doing close-up wise. You can also have the table off to the side until needed. You can walk back and forth to a close-up table, or you can just have your main table about 10 feet away from the front of the audience. Spread the audience from side to side, so that they are not pushed to far to the back.

Generally they are in wheelchairs, and they usually bunch up in front of you. Typically there are anywhere from 20-30 people, and the staff usually sit in the back at a table. Sometimes ones that are able to walk on their own sit in regular chairs, and behind all the others. As I said above, spread them out side to side. Sometimes they may wrap up around you slightly to the sides of the table, but it is usually not a problem here. Be sure to have props that you don't want seen behind a table cloth, or some other type of cover, in case they wrap to much around the side of you. It all depends on how many ppl you have, and how much room.

A little audience participation is always a good thing. Usually though if your going to involve them, you have to walk out into the audience to them. It is good to do a few effects requiring their assistance, as it allows you to be on a more intimate level with them, and sometimes get better reactions from them, and their peers. You must be able to judge who will be a good candidate as an assistant, and sometimes this can be very difficult. That is why I stress keeping it as "simple" as possible. A lot of times I study, and gauge the audience while performing, to see who is mostly involved, who is paying close attention, and using these determinations to help me decide who will be a good choice of assisting me later on.

There may be members who are able to enjoy your magic, and understand it just as easy as anyone would, but your show has to be geared to fit the least fortunate of the group, not the most astutely aware.

Sometimes I may need a coin, or a jumbo card signed, and not all of them will be able to write, or see what they writing. So it is a personal judgment call. Ask the audience first if anyone would like to assist you, and if anyone is quick to respond, select them. Try to pick someone near the front of the audience, so that you don't have to walk through them, and have them struggling to look back at you, being they are positioned in their wheel chairs to face the stage. Be sure the entire group can see the object you have, but not necessarily the signature.

I have finished with flower productions, and gave real flowers away at the end of my show, which is always a delight to the ladies. However giveaways are not totally necessary for a successful, and very enjoyable show, but can be a plus. You will need to check with the staff about what you may give away, especially for items such as candy, as some may be on a strict diet limitation.

Overall though it is a great experience, and the joy that you can provide to these people will remain with them long after you have left, and possibly make a huge difference in their lives, which makes this venue all the more enjoyable to work. The residents will look forward to your next visit, as you will look forward to returning as well. Smile
The great trouble with magicians is the fact that they believe when they have bought a certain trick or piece of apparatus, and know the method or procedure, that they are full-fledged mystifiers. -- Harry Houdini
MagicAndBlackjack
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Reis, good points and thanks for the support.
Bill, thanks for the advice.
Brad, your article was great, and thank you for taking the time to post a wealth of information on this topic.

Once, again thanks everyone,

TJ
Big Al Jnr
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Hi Magic and Blackjack

The Pearl Poodles are made from a string of 17 faux pearls. The best routine IMO, which I use strolling myself, was in Magic Magazine, February 2004 called "Puppy Love". I found I could use larger pearls and this makes a larger poodle (obviously!), and the squeeker ending is great!

Regards

Al.
The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them. George Bernard Shaw.
MagicAndBlackjack
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Al, thanks. I saw that article as well. It's seems like a great trick.
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