Can you imagine life without music? I certainly can’t! Think about the fact that we hear music almost everywhere we go. It’s in our cars, in our homes and on our phones. We sing in the shower and we hum while doing the dishes. We hear music in stores, restaurants, doctor’s offices and elevators. Frequently, we hear it while we’re “holding” on the telephone.

Listening to music is more than just an enjoyable past time; it also has many other benefits. One of my favorite quotes from Bob Marley alludes to the power of music: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Music has the magical ability to relieve pain, provide relaxation and take one back in time.  Every day I see how music can evoke so many different kinds of emotions—happiness, love, excitement, anxiety, even sadness and anger. For the residents at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, music is the catalyst to get them singing and dancing, exercising their brains, and helping to sooth their pains and worries.

Music is a beautiful distraction. As part of my role at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, I have had the unique opportunity to incorporate music into recreational programming. In part, it allows our residents to transcend to a time and place where they were happy and pain free. You can see the pure joy and happiness they feel when listening to music. For me, it is so gratifying to watch their reactions while listening to music—not to mention the profound impact music has on their cognition, emotions and sense of well-being.

Different types of music elicit such different responses. For example, I’ve seen residents hold each other’s hands and even rise to dance with one another when listening to love songs. Rock n roll music excites residents; even those with limited mobility dance in their chairs and wave their hands. In terms of the classics, I’ve seen non-communicative residents become alert and oriented, singing along with music they recognize from their past. Music affects us all differently, but there’s no denying its impact upon our hearts.

While my aunt was being cared for at the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home, I witnessed something I never thought was possible— and solely due to the power of music. She was on hospice and non-responsive. My sister put a pair of headphones in my aunt’s ears and when she heard her favorite music playing, she immediately began singing along. We felt such comfort in seeing her alert and enjoying herself, even if it was just for that moment in time. At the Florence & Chafetz Home for Specialized Care, one of our residents would get out of her chair and sing every time she heard her favorite song, “Oh, Marie.” In the final moments of her life, one of our Home Health Aides rounded up the staff and altogether they sang her favorite song at her bedside. She wasn’t able to get up and sing, but the staff could see a single tear roll down from her eye. It was such an incredibly touching moment.

As a result of my many musical experiences with our residents, I can say with the utmost confidence that music is magic! Music isn’t just something you hear, it’s something you feel — something you carry forever in your heart. I’m incredibly fortunate to witness the amazing power of music each and every day with the residents at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare!

This blog is courtesy of Jim Honohan, Director of Recreational Programming at Chelsea Jewish Lifecare.

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