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Music Therapy Can Spark Memories for Hospice Patients

Recently, I went to northern Kentucky to complete a music therapy assessment with one of our hospice patients. I was greeted warmly by the patient and her daughter, who both shared with me their love of music. The patient lamented that she could no longer sing or play like she used to, but she was eager to hear some of her favorite songs and mouth along with the lyrics when she could. As I played and we "sang" together, her daughter's childhood memories started to come alive. She shared stories about the patient leading sing-alongs in their home, how the patient would sing songs in different voices and how much fun they had together. Before I left, the patient and her daughter shared a song that I had not heard before. We listened to the recording and the patient and daughter sang together. It was a meaningful moment that left tears in the daughter's eyes and a huge smile on the patient's face.

The patient declined quickly and passed away not too long after this visit. It was unexpected, but I was so glad that her daughter had been able to experience those moments of joy with her so close to death. I hope and imagine it will be something she holds onto as she grieves.

Creating those joyful memories for patients and families is one of the most wonderful parts about being a music therapist, and I am so thankful that I can be part of the process.

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