The healing powers of music are gaining widespread credibility as therapy for an aging population. Doctors, therapists, and other health professionals, as well as clients, describe its potential as a way to make the difference between withdrawal and awareness and even between chronic pain and comfort.
Now researchers are studying the beneficial effects of music therapy on those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, stroke, depression, and other disabling conditions. It is hardly surprising that studies show that music therapy is a viable alternative to expensive drugs and lengthy hospital stays.
For those with Alzheimer’s, music is often the only link to their forgotten emotions and memories. Anecdotal studies report that patients often recognize the words and melodies of songs they once sang or played. Healthy seniors can also benefit from music therapy. Music fosters creativity and enjoyment, both factors for an enriched quality of life.
Programs available to all residents of the PVE community include choir, chime-playing, sing-alongs with audience participation and sophisticated interpretations of Broadway show tunes, film music, and popular songs by the Cultural Chorale.
A variety of occasional guest performers, from Fairfield’s community concert band, Solano Winds, to karaoke, guitar, accordion, and banjo entertainment in The Club keep residents humming remembered tunes. Pianists and vocalists offer Sunday afternoon concerts and the music of small ensembles like the Band of the Golden West and student recitals appear regularly on our calendar of activities.
Music therapy is all-encompassing. It has a positive effect on persons in the best of health to those with severe neurological disorders. In the seventeenth century, poet Sir Francis Bacon wrote: “The office of medicine is but to tune/ this curious harp of man’s body/and reduce it to harmony.”
That philosophy is equally valid today.
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