Music can change your world in many different ways. It can soothe, excite, uplift, reflect what we’re thinking or help us set aside what might have us feeling down. Sometimes, music is employed in a medical setting.
When 75-year-old Gloria Rose of Sioux Falls hears the singing and guitar playing of Avera music therapist Becky Jennings-Boyer, Gloria relaxes.
“Usually it’s calming,” Gloria said. “I almost always close my eyes. I don’t recall doing that all the time in the past, but now I do almost every time I listen to music. I just sit back, close my eyes and relax and let it sink in, and that’s definitely what I do when Becky sings to me. I feel like, it’s kind of nice to think somebody is singing directly to you.”
Gloria and her husband Richard are high school sweethearts who celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary in November. Gloria now lives with a terminal illness, and she receives music therapy to help her cope. What you see here is an in-home hospice care session.
“A lot of today is providing that positive environment,” Jennings-Boyer said. “We’re working on comfort and feeling open, and sharing our thoughts and our views.”
Gloria says music therapy brings her peace.
“It relaxes me, which helps me to breathe better,” Gloria said.
“I mean, you can see it in her, she closes her eyes, her breathing syncs with the music,” Jennings-Boyer said.
“Just right now when we were watching her listening to Becky’s music, I could see her breathing, closing her eyes, her breathing was relaxing, she was enjoying the words, really taking it in,” Kim Gardner said.
Gardner is Gloria and Richard’s youngest of three kids.
“Since Becky came into her life, our lives, I feel like she has really taken a, I guess you could say just a deeper breath, so to speak,” Gardner said. “When she’s had a visit with Becky, I can come in, she’s more calm, she’s more relaxed.”
“I’m able to meet a patient at wherever they’re at, to help them feel more comfortable in the process, whether it’s emotional, physical, spiritual or social, I can adjust that music because I have that skill, to help make it beneficial,” Jennings-Boyer said.
It’s a therapy Gloria is thankful for.
“I really firmly believe that hospice care has added to my life,” Gloria said. “When I was first diagnosed, I was given one to three years. That was five years ago. That’s quite a contrast. And I was really scared, I can’t deny that.”
Gardner says her mother means the world to her.
“She’s my best friend, she’s my rock, she’s my lighthouse, and the thought, when she was first diagnosed of losing her, was almost more than any of us could bear on a daily basis,” Gardner said. “I moved back here two years ago, my husband and I, so that we could be here for her and my dad during this time.”
Gardner also sings the praises of hospice care.
“I would just really like people to be encouraged by thinking of hospice as a positive thing,” Gardner said. “There are so many things that it brings into your network: the social workers, the music therapy, the one-on-one with the doctors and the nurses.”
“My whole thing about hospice period is, to me, the quality of life is much more important than the quantity,” Gloria said.
As music enriches her world, Gloria hopes others consider hospice care, too.
“I’m hoping other people will hear us and say, ‘Oh you know, maybe that would help my mom,’ ‘Maybe that’s just what my grandma needs,’ or something like that,” Gloria said.
But for now, she’s still here with her loved ones. Individual musical notes from a horn, strings, or the human voice eventually fade away.
But once it’s out there and heard, someone’s song, their melody, never goes away.