Music And Art Therapy: Stories of Cognitive Disorder Breakthroughs

Excerpts from the Heart At Home newsletter from ElderHealth

How Music And Art Can Help Memory Care And Aging in Place

We knew we had to go beyond the limited Western medicine toolbox. For instance, if antidepressants are not working, maybe supportive counseling, pet, music, or art therapy could help. We have developed a firsthand understanding of the broad potential of the multidisciplinary care team. The value of team members that can provide support to patients in crisis and during critical transitions (such as from home to memory care) and that can implement strategies such as music and art therapy to those with neurocognitive disorders, which can cut down on agitated behaviors and tranquilizer use.

Corinne Self, MD
ElderHealth Founder

Memories of Music Can Enhance Quality of Life And Promote Medical Outcomes

Micheal Hieber, Music Therapist

Music therapy is an evidence-based form of care. As a board-certified music therapist with ElderHealth, I utilize all of music’s capabilities to enhance and promote medical outcomes and enhance the overall quality of life for my patients.

Most people are able to talk about the therapeutic nature of music in their own lives—even if they are not aware of the exact mechanism that makes it therapeutic. Music can help manage stress, elevate mood, and process trauma through emotional release or analysis of lyrics. Sometimes it is as simple as using a familiar song to stimulate memories of the ‘good ol’ days.’

One Word Was Music To My Ears

Teresa Miller, Music Therapist

I believe in being a lifelong learner. As humans live longer, and researchers continue to study the aging process, we have subtly begun to evolve our approach. Rather than thinking of aging as an increasingly reclusive time, marked with well-worn patterns of routine, we are daring to make it an era of self-exploration and expansion.

“She hasn’t spoken in months.” The nurse was telling me about my next patient. Her team and family weren’t brimming with optimism, either. They had a sense of resignation. They didn’t know what else to do.

In late-stage neurocognitive disease, we are concerned about a patient’s quality of life. How do we improve quality of life when a patient isn’t engaging with family, friends, caregivers?

As a music therapist, I have discovered that the answer lies in the smallest of moments. When I played music for my patients, they often seem unaware of my presence initially. Then there is a shift. It is as though they are back in the body again, instead of lost in the mind.

There is a shifting of position; perhaps they touch their hands together with more intention. This patient’s body and mind similarly began to wake up as I played the music. At the end, I approached her slowly and quietly. I asked, “Did you enjoy the music?” She looked in my eyes and said one, beautiful word: “Yes.”

Leading ElderHealth’s Offering of Art Expression

Katie Purdy, Art Guide

I am an artist and an art teacher. I love working with all ages to help people from all walks of life become more expressive and joyful through the use of many varieties of art. I love people and truly believe that everyone has the ability to express themselves through art.

It has been such a pleasurable experience meeting new ElderHealth members and working with them to create unique art. Most importantly, it has been an honor taking part in the artistic processes that bring a feeling of joy and accomplishment into members’ lives.

I look forward to meeting and working with many more members in the future. My goal is to help as many people as possible enhance and enrich their lives through the wonderful experience of creating art.

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