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IKF Blog
Posted: Monday, December 12, 2016

Music Therapist puts the power of music to work for IKF residents

When was the last time you heard an old, familiar song and were transported back to a particular time in your life? Remember how it made you feel? 

The power of music has been recognized for centuries. We’ve learned that people respond to music emotionally; that familiar song can evoke memories and feelings of security. Music also is associated with positive changes in mood, emotional states and self-awareness. 

Amy Hewes, Ingleside at King Farm’s Board Certified Music Therapist, uses the power of music to work with specific conditions and provide life enrichment for individuals and groups. Along with Life Enrichment Manager Kate Kavitski, Hewes is creating programs that are wellness-oriented and therapeutic. 

 “Music is a great gateway for socialization,” Hewes says. “Sometimes people can feel isolated, especially in a health-care setting. I’m excited to start some programming that focuses on that, including singing and playing instruments.” 

Among the recreational groups Hewes has started are Name That Tune and sing-alongs that bring people together. She also hosts a weekly Composer Spotlight where folks can listen to music, learn about composers and discuss the pieces. 

Those groups focus on promoting wellness, including mental stimulation and socialization. But music therapy also can play an important role in treatment of a wide variety of health conditions. Research has verified the use of music therapy to manage stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication, facilitate movement and support physical therapy, provide emotional support for clients and families, and create an outlet for expression of feelings. 

Music therapists like Hewes use a number of different techniques. They might improvise or compose music with clients, provide live or recording music for receptive music listening, analyze song lyrics with clients, facilitate relaxation through music, or lead clients in singing, playing instruments, or moving to music. 

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is the “clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” 

Music therapy offers benefits for older people who have cognitive deficits such as Alzheimer’s disease. Research specifically in this area has shown that music therapy reduces depression, enhances social and emotional skills, assists in recall and language skills, and decreases the frequency of agitated and aggressive behavior. 

One of Hewes’ new groups, called Songs for the Senses, has people feeling the vibrations produced by sound, such as the pulses of a drum, or experiencing sensations such as touching the beads on a cabasa, a percussion instrument made of chains of steel balls wrapped around a wide cylinder. 

“It’s satisfying for these people to experience different senses,” Hewes says. “The more senses involved, the more it brings them into the experience.” 

Members of the Songs for the Senses group also gain sensory experience and socialization by holding hands and swaying to the beat of music Hewes sings and plays. 

“Music can also help with people with dementia who might feel or experience agitation when they’re receiving care, such as getting a shower or a meal,” Hewes says. “We can train health care workers to use certain songs or types of music when they are providing care.” 

Music also has been shown to facilitate movement for people with Parkinson’s and other motor issues. Exercises with music make treatment and physical therapy easier, Hewes says. 

Hewes, a native of Virginia, received bachelor’s degrees in music and sociology from George Mason University. She then completed a music therapy program at Shenandoah University. She completed 1,200 hours of clinical training and a six-month internship and successfully demonstrated her knowledge, skills and abilities by passing an exam administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. She previously worked with older people at another Continuing Care Retirement Community and also had a private practice. Hewes plays the trombone, is a former symphony orchestra member, and plays in a swing band. 

Hewes is excited to be working at Ingleside at King Farm. 

“I think it is an exceptional community with really interesting residents and a great culture in the way the staff works with residents and the level of respect staff has for residents, especially in the Health Care Center,” Hewes said. “I’m happy to be part of that.”



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