Music Therapy

Music Therapy

Music therapy creates wellbeing in memory care

It’s late afternoon at Oak Ridge, one of six single-family assisted living and memory care homes in Minnetonka and Edina operated by English Rose. The home’s six residents begin to gather in the living room as Christian Nielson, a board-certified music therapist, gently tunes his baritone ukulele.

For the next hour, Christian will cycle through a century’s worth of music from a wide variety of beloved genres, from well-known spiritual tunes to radio classics from Elvis and John Denver. The group, tentative at first, soon fills the room with smiles, hand-tapping, laughter, and commentary.

“Live music is always a resident favorite,” says Zack Parlier, English Rose Home Manager and Dementia Expert, “Our music therapists do more than just fill our homes with beautiful melodies. They help us feel. They use music to connect people to themselves and their memories. For those living with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, music therapy engages them in a life review process that profoundly connects them to their personal joys and life meaning.”

Christian is one of a handful of inspired musicians who rotate through English Rose’s six assisted living and memory care homes on a weekly basis. With over a thousand hours of clinical training, he’s highly trained in music, psychology, physiology, education, and spirituality. “I’ve seen people who are minimally verbal or deep into memory loss sing all the words to their favorite songs,” says Christian. “His interactions with residents are always purposeful. He’s a master at artfully drawing out expression,” explains Zack, “He has a special way of using music to melt through hesitations and physical limitations.”

The first music therapy educational program was introduced in 1944 at Michigan State University. The discipline is now widely embraced at leading healthcare institutions such as Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, and the Cleveland Clinic. It’s been proven to improve memory and communication, lower blood pressure, stress, and pain, and elevate positive feelings and a sense of self-worth. At English Rose, music is an important component of its holistic approach to wellbeing and is integrated into each resident’s individualized care program.
“Music is a whole brain and body experience,” says Christian. “It stimulates, calms, and comforts the senses. It’s an accessible way to express emotions and comfort the spirit.” To learn more about our award-winning caregiving approach, visit Wellbeing at English Rose.

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