The Power of Music Therapy As Part of Senior Care (by Guest Blogger Seonggyung Kim)

violinJune 7, 2013

Oregon Health Care Association

11740 SW 68th Parkway Suite 250

Portland, OR 97223


Dear Oregon Health Care Association:

My name is Seonggyung Kim and I attend Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego studying music therapy. I want to start by thanking and respecting your hard work to support long term care services for seniors  in Oregon. Today, I am writing this letter to you to suggest it is strongly important to have music therapists in facilities that serve seniors.


About two months ago, I began volunteering at Prestige Care in Portland playing music for an hour every Wednesday before dinner time. Music showed me how much it can stimulate elderly people whose senses and nerves worsen with aging. The most amazing experience happened when I sang a Korean traditional folk song to a Korean lady. She sat quite close to the piano, and when I started singing, she tried to touch the piano. When a staff member moved her right next to me so that she could touch it, the lady who hardly hears and speaks began to sing the folk song with correct lyrics and hit the piano keys.


According to David, Gfeller and Thaut, outcomes of music therapy for the elderly population includes increasing mobility, improving short-term as well as longer memory, verbal skills and promoting social interaction (196). Music itself is already powerful enough to make change, and when it is used by professionals who can utilize it in the most effective way, there is no doubt that change will happen faster and be more positively. Furthermore, music therapy is more cost effective than other therapies because, first of all, group therapy can be done and it provides homework that people can practice outside of session. Most importantly, music naturally retains elements that affect people positively and motivate them. Therefore, once people are involved in music therapy, the favorable outcome is more than likely achieved (Michel and Pinson, 136).

Nothing is required to be engaged in music activities; even age and health condition don’t matter.  Furthermore, music therapy can bring out more than fun to the elderly. I strongly suggest you to consider about facilitating music therapy actively at nursing homes and see what it does.




Seonggyung Kim





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