Senior music therapy earns praise, restores hope

Senior music therapy earns praise, restores hope

Senior programs at the Snohomish County Music Project met warm praise this year. From completing a pilot study at Quail Park of Lynnwood to private music therapy services to the upcoming senior choirs, this year has been busy. It’s also just begun. We’re creating and expanding programs to meet people’s needs. One such population is seniors. Seniors helped build our community. Now, it’s time to help them.

An evidence-based, people-first approach

Our Music Therapy Director, Karla Hawley, strives toward improving these programs. Take the Quail Park Pilot study for example. Clients met one on one and in group sessions.  The results? It’s improving lives. Here’s how each senior benefited:

Quail Park (Group 1)

ClientListening (max 57)Singing (max 22)Locomotion (max 8)
Overall33.6% average improvement versus pre-pilot
PrePostAveragePrePostAveragePrePostAverage
B.263430.8%182116.7%7814.3%
C.172441.2%6950.0%28300%
C.284146.4%192215.8%880.0%
Average23.733.039.4%14.317.320.9%5.78.041.2%
Names abbreviated to respect client confidentiality.

Quail Park (Group 2)

ClientListening (max 57)Singing (max 30)Locomotion (max 8)
Overall73.1% average improvement versus pre-pilot
PrePostChangePrePostChangePrePostChange
C.1840122.2%172864.7%6833.3%
D.1735105.9%1225108.3%880.0%
M.152140.0%81587.5%5860.0%
J.152140.0%81587.5%5860.0%
Average16.329.380.0%11.320.884.4%6.08.033.3%

That’s part of our evidence-based approach. Programs are reviewed before and after each quarter. With time and a larger group, the results become clear.

Almost as important are stories from family and caregivers. Here’s one example:

The findings are nothing short of magical. [C’s] personal and physical being instantly changes. Her posture relaxes. She typically closes her eyes and moves her hands as if she is composing the music herself. Her mood instantly changes. She goes from tearful and anxious to even joyful and singing. This result is consistent with [C.] on a daily basis. We have regular art classes where we do various paintings. Typically, [C.] does not join this activity but does sit with me and accompany the group. I always offer her a canvas or paper or paint with her. On this particular day [C.] was anxious so at the art class I pulled out her music and played it. [C.] began to paint independently. She stroked her brush to the beat of the music. It was very moving. [C.] greatly benefits from this program.

In this way, music therapy complements other therapies. It can help catalyze change by breaking down neurological barriers.  At the end of the day, music therapy helps reach a senior who may be beyond other means.

We’ll share more findings in an upcoming year-end report, which will cover the state of programs and the future of the Music Project in 2016.

Help a senior in the community

Until then, if you or someone you know would benefit from music therapy services, forward them a free consultation before space fills in the coming months. You can also donate to help subsidize the costs of these programs.

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