Liberty Hospice chaplain Archie Stevens can bring out more than just melodic music with his guitar. Sometimes, he can bring out more from patients than anyone could expect.
“My group performed this spring at a local nursing home, and this lady stood up and sang along as we played ‘Amazing Grace,’” Stevens recalled. “We noticed that others at the facility just looked at her in amazement but we weren’t sure why.”
Stevens said he found out later that the woman had not spoken in six months before singing along.
Music therapy is growing within hospice care. Stories from around the nation tell of its impact, and Stevens, who visits patients in the Southern Pines, NC area, said he’s seen the difference up close.
“Sometimes, the music just really speaks to them,” he said. “It can really be a touching part of their spiritual journey. Many of our hospice patients grew up in church, and when they hear those old gospel songs it is very comforting for them.”
Stevens said that dementia patients will sometimes forget everyday things, but can remember lyrics from songs of years ago. Singing helps them recall happier times, and can also bring out special memories for family members.
“I’ve seen patients and their families light up when I start a certain song,” he said. ‘You can see the patient clap along or really get into the music, and many times their families will see a response that they hadn’t seen in a while.”
Liberty Hospice chaplains have used music to engage with patients and make the final moments of life special. Stevens said seeing the joy on the patients’ faces, and their families, hits a special note for him.
“It is so gratifying to see them share in the music,” he said. “Music therapy has been a great thing.”