“When I hear the music, I take my tambourine and maracas and I go with Wolodymyr. We both make the show. I am 94 year old and I have many health issues but I still want to enjoy life and make joy for myself and others as well. I do not want to spend my days waiting for the end. I want to dance, play music and sing till my last day. I forget about my age, pains and aches when I feel joy. I am so lucky to be a resident at the Care Centre! I have a life!”
~ Michael Melanek
It’s Monday, 2:55 in the afternoon and if you happen to be on the third floor of the Care Centre at that time, you would know that something is about to happen. It starts with Wolodymyr Kokhovskyy, music therapist, entering the hallway with his big accordion on his chest, pulling out the bellows, letting the beautiful rich sounds of the accordion fill the hallway. As soon as he starts playing, you could see Michael Melanek, resident of the Care Centre, come out of his room with a tambourine, a maracas and such a big glowing smile, that you will forever remember. Following him, other residents start coming out; you would also see caregivers, portering residents. Some residents sing, others rock out to the beat or clap – and the magic of life begins to unfold right in front of your eyes.
“Music therapy has a remarkable positive impact,” says Irena Dounets, Manager of Programs and Volunteers. “Scientific evidence has shown that it has the power to open backdoors to memory and awaken precious past experiences and feelings that would otherwise be lost. Residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia will start singing and remembering the lyrics of familiar songs and feel more emotionally secure connecting to something that they know and remember. Residents who experience mobility constraints start rocking and clapping, which helps them increase their range of motion. Music has proven to be able to ease pain, relieve muscle tension, ward off depression and reduce stress and anxiety. Everyone can benefit. The connection to music is uniquely human and visceral. Music can address the person’s physical, emotional, spiritual or psychological challenges and help improve emotional well-being and health.”
Wolodymyr visits everyone at the Care Centre who can benefit from music therapy. “Прошу прийди, прийди і заспівай мені пісню, я не сплю” (Please, sing to me, I am not sleeping), you may hear from residents who are bedridden and eagerly anticipate his visit. Wolodymyr goes to their bedside and sings their favourite songs.
“There is so much more we can do,” says Irena, “we are just in the beginning. The impact of regular music therapy grows in time. For music therapy to be effective, it requires an individualized approach as people have different ways of expression and different musical preferences. Some residents like singing, others like playing a musical instrument or improvising and composing. It is all about using the right form of expression and the right type of music for the person. Music therapy is about restoring the capacity to experience life – to live with joy, feel pleasure and have meaningful interactions with others. It is all about coming alive to love life again.”
“We have been able to implement this program thanks to the generosity of our past family members Adrian and Lesia Kostruba and their family who dedicated their gift in honour of Joseph and Patricia Krushelnicki. Patricia was a resident of the Care Centre. “We are happy to support a program that brings such wonderful, positive benefits in the lives of the residents at the Care Centre,” says Lesia Kostruba on behalf of her family. “My mother was a resident at the Care Centre and we are very grateful for the exceptional care she received. The dedication, care and compassion of the Care Centre’s staff are outstanding. My family and I are really happy to give back to a place that made such a difference in my Mom’s life, and we want the Care Centre to be able to continue to be there for all the seniors, like my Mom, who need it today and will need it tomorrow. We know the huge difference the Care Centre can make in a senior’s life!”
We are profoundly grateful to Adrian and Lesia Kostruba and their family for giving us the opportunity to open the doors to this magical, uniquely human, positive experience that only music can bring,” says Sandy Lomaszewycz, Executive Director.