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Sharing the Joy of Music at the End of Life

You can probably remember the first recorded music you ever bought, or your favorite song from a high school dance. Maybe your wedding music holds a special place in your heart, or you hum along to your favorite show tunes whenever you hear them.

Music plays a big role in our lives. Now Hospice of North Ottawa Community is pleased to bring music to the end of life through a new hospice music therapy program.

“Music helps relieve distress,” says Lisa Ziemelis, music therapist. “When patients are experiencing pain, anxiety, breathing difficulties or emotional struggles, music can have a calming effect. I see people’s moods change, and they visibly relax. I also love how music brings families together as they share memories. Music brings joy, even if only for the moment.”

Music is a wonderfully flexible medium for expressing thoughts and emotions, regardless of whether a person has any personal musical experience or not. “Sometimes I play songs and we discuss the lyrics,” continues Lisa. “

Sometimes I just play something calming on my guitar or a keyboard, so the patient can relax. At other times, the patient will help create a legacy recording of their favorite music and/or poetry readings. This is an especially treasured memory for families after their loved one is gone.” The therapy is flexible, based on the patient’s life and desires.

Research has shown that music therapy is an effective treatment for pain and anxiety management. In some cases, patients can even reduce their reliance on some medications because music provides equal relief.

This pilot program was made possible through the generous support of Hospice donors. We sincerely thank the people who gave to make the music therapy program a reality for our hospice patients.

Hospice care is about comfort and reassurance at the end of life. If you are interested in what music therapy could do for your loved one, please call 616.846.2015.

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