“Still Music Within” written by one of our talented Music Therapists…
In his last month of life, *Bob became very anxious, sensitive to touch, and began to withdraw. His ability to interact was diminishing. One day when I arrived, his eyes were half closed and drool was being tenderly wiped off his lips by one of his concerned daughters. With my guitar in front of him, I began to sing his anthems. After a few minutes, he lifted up his hand ever so slightly and began knocking his knuckle on the guitar in time with the music, and then occasionally strumming a few strings along with me. His weak voice offered quiet, mumbled words of song. His body was beginning to fail, but he still had music left to play. Watching our interactions, his family members became more relaxed and began sharing positive memories, laughing together.
Our final visit together will stay in my mind forever. Bob was resting, as most of his time was spent near his final days. I slowly introduced music to help him become more alert, and his wife joined us at his side. Bob couldn’t keep his eyes open, nor his head up for more than a few moments at a time. Bob’s wife and I sang the songs that initially fueled our connection months prior. Our session was brief, as I could tell he was very tired. As I was about to say goodbye, those big eyes opened once again as he smiled and began to sing on his own “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine / You make me happy when skies are blue / You’ll never know dear how much I love you / Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
Music Therapy in Hospice
As a music therapist working in hospice, each day holds a different experience. The experience above is just one tiny portion of the work I am privileged enough to be a part of on a day-to-day basis. Music therapy services range from brief, one-time sessions, a few months, or even over a year, and continues to be available to the patient and their family through bereavement after the patient passes. I strongly believe that “music therapy can make the difference between withdrawal and awareness, between isolation and interaction, between chronic pain and comfort, between demoralization and dignity” (Barbara Crowe, MMT, MT-BC).
At Premier Hospice, we provide valuable care for those facing life-limiting illnesses, and maintaining dignity is of the utmost priority. A credentialed music therapist works alongside physicians, nurses, home health aides, chaplains, social workers, and volunteers – who are each dedicated to maintaining comfort and quality of life.
Music therapy is an evidence-based healthcare profession where the credentialed therapist uses individualized, live-music interventions to address the unique physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Our unique training and education in music and the human experience enables us to work with individuals at an intimately therapeutic level.
*Names have been changed to protect PHI according to HIPAA regulations.