KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Hey Matt, what Christmas songs are you singing? Former WATE 6 Storm Team Meteorologist and health advocate Matt Hinkin is spreading holiday cheer at Knoxville area senior living facilities this season with the universal sound of music.

Matt Hinkin. (Photo: WATE)

Hinkin, who retired from WATE-TV in August 2021 after 31 years of serving East Tennesseans with weather information and more, is still actively serving the community. Now, he’s using his love of music and singing with the PJ Parkinson’s Support group to give back.

On Wednesday, Dec. 14 Hinkin and friends are singing Christmas carols at four different senior care communities in the Knoxville area. The group has a bus that is driving the carolers to the locations with lunch provided at Morning Pointe Senior Living.

According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, singing may be helpful by enhancing voice volume and quality, since Parkinson’s can cause hypophonia or low voice volume and monotonous speech. Singing as therapy can improve these symptoms, research studies show.

PJ Parkinson’s Support is a Knoxville-based nonprofit that seeks to support those living with Parkinson’s and their caregivers in the East Tennessee region. The nonprofit organizes events, discussions and more in order to raise awareness and share mutual experiences on all aspects of Parkinson’s disease.

Not only is the group helping its participants with their symptoms of Parkinson’s by singing, but is also serving the elderly population. Studies show that music, as well as singing, helps to improve brain function and creativity.

A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychology shows how music positively affects cognitive function in older adults. The study investigated the effect of environmental activity such as music as a possible memory improvement technique in older adults.

Hinkin and the PJ Parkinson’s Support group are singing Christmas carols Wednesday. The organization also hosts several events each month including physical activities, discussions with medical experts, support groups and other services.