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Concerts from the porch

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Music therapy gets creative during COVID-19 regulations

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CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Karen Sholander who is a Board-Certified Music Therapist and is Certified in Hospice and Palliative Care with Music Therapy (HPMT) has been with the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) for a little over five years.
VNA created a Music Therapy program to reach Alzheimer’s patients to reduce or alleviate pain, for recovery from stroke for bereavement and for enhancing quality of life.
VNA Hospice Care uses music therapy as a valuable tool in hospice’s mission to help patients retain dignity and control at the end of life. During these special visits with VNA Hospice Care patients, Sholander provides music as a catalyst for sharing memories and processing life changes.
A music therapist also uses music to help ease the person’s physical and emotional pain. Music therapy offers benefits for the bereavement process as well. Helping the patient’s loved ones manage the burden of grief before and after the patient passes away. Board-certified therapists must maintain the clinical skills and abilities necessary to treat patients effectively and professionally and they must also be skilled in guitar, piano and voice.
COVID-19 has greatly affected the care that was available to be provided to the patients, but VNA and Sholander wanted to continue providing care to those who desperately needed it.
Sholander travels to a total of seven care homes to sing songs and play guitar for patients. When asked what her favorite thing to sing to patients is, she simply stated, “The music they enjoy. It can be anything from big band, Rock n’ Roll of the 1950s, ABBA or The Beatles.” She has also played songs from the 1920s such as, “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” and “Chatanooga Choo Choo.”
Music has traveled through many countries and ethnicities and she is happy to provide what makes the patient happy. Sholander sets up outside the patient’s home either on the porch or outside their door where they can see her and uses an amplifier, so her voice is loud.
“The family’s responses have been very happy. They can’t get into the facilities to visit or see their loved ones and they become gloomy,” Sholander said.
Sholander was asked if she could only accomplish one thing through this program, what she hoped it was, “I really hope to provide joy through engagement with someone else. Sometimes I only see the patient one time. I need to make the most positive impact I can make in the short time I have. There are no do-overs.”
For more information on the Music Therapy program offered by VNA visit www.vnatexas.org.