About a year ago I heard a story about a family in northern Ohio who used harp music to calm the fears of a loved one that was actively dying. For years I have known the benefits of music therapy in many applications including the Music and Memory program, as well as with hospice. However, I recently read an article about Music-Thanatology and the use of harps in palliative care. http://www.dw.com/en/music-thanatology-offers-melodies-topalliate-the-dying/a-36030254
We all know how we feel when we hear harp music – there is a certain calming effect to it and it seems to put us at ease. Tony Pederson, president of the Music-Thanatology Association International, claims that harps can even be a form of pain relief.
“We’re bringing in music to address the physical manifestations of the dying process – connecting music with things like breath, pulse and temperature,” Pederson said. “Our main job is to accompany someone through the dying process, and we tailor the music to what is going on physically for the patient.” Pederson said just the sight of a harp could be relaxing for some people.
Another practitioner uses harp music in much broader settings, such as for premature babies and for people facing fears of complicated medical procedures. He claims that “Music is a noninvasive method of influencing heart rate, breathing quality and physical pain.”
Music therapy is defined as an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. Huffington Post published an article on the benefits of Music in Memory Care: http://www. huffingtonpost.com/rita-altman-rn/music-and-memory_b_3639805.html listing the benefits as:
- Music stimulates the mind
- Music energizes the body
- Music nurtures the spirit
- Music makes a difference in caregiving
- Music can be a bridge to communication
The Music and Memory program is based on the above list and the benefits are known throughout the United States and Canada. http://musicandmemory.org/ This program uses iPods and music from the person’s past to tap into deep memories and enhance the person’s life, improving conversation and interpersonal communication. Click here to watch the amazing transformation music brings to an elderly man!
Over the past several years I have witnessed more and more hospices hiring certified music therapists and offering music therapy to patients and their families. I wonder what a difference it would make to begin offering harp music to hospice patients in an effort to alleviate palliate pain and fears of dying.