There is something wonderful about the power of music.

Recently at Christian Health Care Center, we’ve begun inviting a music therapist, Yukiko Nasu, to visit residents in our skilled nursing facility. Yuki, who lives in Lynden, visits weekly with her harp and her adorable therapy dog, Ruby.

During and after Yuki’s visits, CHCC staff have observed wonderful changes in residents with whom she spends time, including those dealing with pain, anxiety, isolation, dementia and end-of-life issues.

Staff identifies residents who might benefit from her services, and Yuki does the rest. Depending on what each resident needs, Yuki uses music therapy techniques to improve emotional levels and cognitive, social and fine/gross motor skills of individuals receiving care at CHCC.

There’s a great deal of science and research behind music therapy, and the results are as plain as the smiles on residents’ faces.

“I’ve seen people feeling less pain after implementing music at a specific tempo,” Yuki says. “I’ve seen people with dementia reconnect with their memories, since most people have certain music that is associated with their specific memories.”

Decades of research on music therapy backs this up. As sensory and intellectual stimulation, music can be used to maintain or increase levels of physical, mental, social and emotional functioning in older adults.

Sometimes residents will have brain damage from a stroke. Even though verbalization is difficult for them, Yuki has seen them successfully articulate words while singing along.

“It’s because music activates many parts of your brain,” Yuki says.

The most common improvement she sees is in the mood of residents who enjoy listening to her music.

“Relaxation music can be played in order to help residents calm down, fall asleep or feel less pain,” she says. “Appropriate music provides a safe, comfortable and familiar space.”

Nurses and other staff at our long-term care center see the benefits of therapy in the smiles on residents’ faces while they’re listening to music, often while stroking Ruby’s fur as she is laying nearby. We hear the benefits in the voices of residents as they sing happily along to songs they know well. And we sense the benefits in the relaxation that residents experience as they close their eyes, lie back and enjoy listening to the music.

At Christian Health Care Center, we are always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for individuals in our care. It’s part of our mission to provide skilled nursing care with compassion and love. To learn more about our family atmosphere and schedule a visit to our Lynden healthcare campus, contact our admissions team.