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Hospice of Michigan uses music therapy to help residents coping with dementia

Researchers are increasingly finding the therapeutic effect music can have for those feeling the stress and anxiety brought on by dementia.

For those in certain stages of dementia, a powerful way to soothe agitation or even to connect with the world around them, involves no medication. The remedy is that universal connector of us all: music.

Researchers are increasingly finding the therapeutic effect music can have for those feeling the understandable stress and anxiety brought on by dementia. Studies show that even patients with late-stage Alzheimer’s may be able to sing along to a song from childhood, allowing them to connect with others when verbal communication is challenged. Marcie Hillary from Hospice of Michigan stopped by to tell us how her practice of music therapy is helping Hospice of Michigan residents.

Launched two years ago, the “My Music” program started a volunteer-run effort to create and assemble play lists and load music to MP3 players that were then brought to patients. Recently, Hospice of Michigan has identified volunteer music librarians across the state who are responsible for categorizing music, streamlining the process. The program has become a highly collaborative effort between the clinical teams and the volunteers.

One of their youngest volunteers is a librarian. At age 14, Olivia came to Hospice of Michigan’s “My Music” program. She’s been coding since 3rd grade, plays the violin and aspires to work in medicine and with computers. She secretly built a website which will automate Hospice of Michigan’s entire “My Music” library, enabling them to serve more patients and get the MP3 Players into the field faster.

Want to get involved?

In conjunction with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Hospice of Michigan has announced the first Hospice of Michigan Pediatric Music Therapy Fellowship!

  • Fellowship is a 1 year program for a Board-certified music therapist
  • Seeking someone who has recently graduated from college with a Bachelors in Music Therapy and has completed their 1040 internship hours
  • The position will be split between field visits for Hospice of Michigan’s Anchors Programs for Children and at HDVCH
  • Final hiring decisions will be a collaborative effort with HDVCH Music Therapist and Administration and Hospice of Michigan’s Pediatric team
  • The job will be posted on the Spectrum Careers website

If you’d like to get involved with Hospice of Michigan, visit http://www.hom.org.

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