As featured in North Hawaii News February 15, 2016
One of the most beautiful aspects of the Hawaiian culture, in my opinion, is the way in which music is incorporated throughout the hearts and lives of the people here. In everything from a gathering of friends under a carport to more formal staged events, music represents the island’s mindset.
In working with older adults, music therapy is a very effective approach to brighten the lives of those with ailments, such as cognitive disorders, depression and pain. I have witnessed a woman who hadn’t spoken in months suddenly join in on a chorus of “Silent Night.” This powerful moment perfectly demonstrated the healing power of music.
Recently in our care home, a resident and her friend gathered to play their ukuleles. We invited a client from next door at the day center to come join in, as these women used to perform together. This client had experienced a stroke recently and she was unsure about her ability to sing. The ukuleles started playing and she started singing along. Her tears flowed at both the joy of singing again, and the memories that came flooding back.
There is a beautiful documentary called “Alive Inside” which is a must-see for all, and especially for caregivers of individuals with memory loss. It is a moving piece about older adults in nursing homes who connect with music in powerful ways. You can visit www.musicandmemory.org to find more information and inspiration on this topic.
We have a wonderful opportunity here in Hawaii for healing through a lovely variety of music. Many caregivers forget to play styles of music that are familiar to the older individual, so I encourage all of you in that position to be sure you are tapping into that powerful resource. Whether it’s Frank Sinatra or Don Ho, bodies and minds will be moved.