March 17, 2020
Music therapy is effective in relieving pain and increasing the quality of life for patients AND their loved ones. It can also function as a container for sacred moments; as uniquely captured memories for a lifetime; and as a mechanism for bonding, affirmation, and celebration in life-limiting situations. Our topic today is music as palliative care. Palliative refers to care that is focused on relief from pain, usually symptoms and stress of a serious illness; the goal is to improve quality of life for the patient and for their family.
My guest today is Katie Lindenfelser, the founder and executive director of Crescent Cove. Crescent Cove is a vibrant and joyful home-away-from home right here in the Twin Cities, for young people with life-threatening conditions. It offers respite care and hospice care for children through age 21; their goal is to help families feel embraced, assured, and celebrated. Katie is a board certified music therapist who studied music therapy at Augsburg University and at the University of Melbourne in Australia. Katie was recommended to me by multiple people who are well connected in the music world, so I was extra thrilled to be talking to her!
- Crescent Cove has a network of therapists who control pain and symptoms through many different forms: art, pet therapy, healing touch, spiritual care, hydrotherapy. We, of course, are focusing today on music’s use as palliative care – relieving pain and increasing quality of life for children, and for their families.
- In metro areas around the United States, there are over 4,700 hospice homes for adults, but Crescent Cove is only the third designed just for children and their unique needs (there is also one in California and one in Arizona).
- Harmon Killebrew connection: Harmon was passionate about the value of hospice care and would think that building this home was as important as any of his legendary baseball achievements. Harmon’s last public statement: “I have spent the past decade of my life promoting hospice care and educating people on its benefits. I am very comfortable taking this next step and experiencing the compassionate care that hospice provides.”
- New York Times article: Where Should a Child Die? Hospice Homes Help Families With the Unimaginable, by Helen Ouyang (May 15, 2019). “While the rest of the medical field focuses on giving patients more time to live, hospice tries to make the short time they have left as good as it can be…” There is a pediatric medicine saying: Children are not little adults. “Childhood illnesses are many and varied, as are the ways young bodies respond to them, so accurate prognoses can be difficult to make. The saying is as true in death as it is in life. Children’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs are not the same as those of adults. Their families also require more support. What parents and siblings have to process — the decisions made, the grief that ensues — tend to be far greater and more complicated when a child is dying.”
- Previous episodes referenced in our conversation:
- Nostalgia episode (What IS it about Christmas Music?! Love it or not, why the response? with psychologist Dr. Krystine Batcho)
- Episode discussing melody and trauma processed in the same part of the brain. Words are processed in a different part of the brain, and that is why words set to music have so much more impact than spoken or written words alone. (Music Heals the Soul, with Music for the Soul founder & Dove Award winning songwriter Steve Siler)
Katie suggests improv ideas for working with kids and siblings – changing words to favorite children’s songs to express emotions or motivate movements, etc. While working with one family, we improved on the many things a sibling liked to do with his brother even though his brother was unable to do the things that he saw his friends being able to do with their siblings: “ I love to read to XXX, I love to sing to XXX, etc.”
- All services and stays provided at Crescent Cove to kids and families are provided at NO COST, thanks to the generosity of donors who make this possible. Interesting in contributing in some way? Check out the How You Can Help tab on the website: Donate, Volunteer, Wish List, and more (including local special events, a CraftHappy App, and Legacy Brick Pavers).
While working with an infant who was at home at the end of life, we put the parents’ journal words into a song that was sung at her funeral and expresses the continued love they have for their daughter that reaches beyond this life. “You are Love” is the name of the song.
I want to acknowledge the new normal we are all experiencing worldwide related to COVID-19. It seems like the situation is changing on an hourly basis. We are all experiencing new uncertainties and changes; and while this certainly comes with its challenges, I do also find it comforting and heart-warming in a way, to know that we ALL – worldwide – are navigating this strange new reality together! And there are some very inspiring examples of the unifying effect of music and the resilience of humanity happening right now during this COVID-19 situation. I’ve been posting some of them on social media. You can check those out on Instagram, Twitter, FB, and LinkedIn. Today’s episode is very apropos for this week, with a look at those among us who are truly faced with the ultimate uncertainty in life. I hope today’s interview brought you perspective and hope and fresh appreciation for the unique functions of the gift of music. As we’re all practicing social distancing, I’d love to virtually connect with you. If you come across any examples of how music is helping people cope with COVID-19 challenges, send them my way so I can share them. Until next week, may your life be enhanced with music.