Music can be uplifting, engaging, transformative and most importantly, healing. At Valley Senior Living, Music Therapist Lindsey Moffitt visits neighborhoods at all care communities and engages residents with all types of music. Listening to music, hands on participation with instruments, and singing, fill the hallways and family rooms at Valley. Valley is even home to a resident rock band! Music therapy touches residents in a different way than traditional therapy services that are often medically suggested. Music therapy is powerful for both mental and emotional health by encouraging self-expression, enhancing cognitive skills, reducing stress and eliminating boredom by adding a spark of spontaneity for residents.
Upon the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions kept residents from gathering for music therapy to sing and practice for rock band performances. Lindsey, who usually is seen with a guitar slung over her shoulder or carrying a large case full of hand chimes, quickly changed her routine and gracefully transformed into a music therapist in a face mask, face shield and armed with a digital stethoscope and recording device. She began capturing the internal percussion of residents, the heartbeat, each unique in its own way and a rhythm charged with emotional power. With the recorded beat, Lindsey is layering and weaving the beat with recognizable songs or lyrics selected by the resident or the resident’s family. Variations of the recordings include residents reading letters or poems and blending the spoken recordings together with the beat. Each version different, individualized, and each with a personal touch. She calls them Heartbeat Treasures.
“This is something tangible I can give and it truly lives on. I know in my work as a therapist I am giving each day in different ways through interactions and music. For me, Heartbeat Treasures are giving humanity, and keeping the beat alive. This is my way of sharing something families can have forever,” says Lindsey.
Grief and pain often accompany final days and end of life. The internal rhythm is personal and a way to connect with loved ones still with us or those we have lost. A treasure, captured for families to have once a heartbeat has stopped on earth.
Gloria Rose, daughter of a past resident at Valley says, “After my father, Don Lemon, was diagnosed with a fatal illness, Lindsey stopped at his room one day to sing with him. He loved singing. While there she asked if he and the family would be interested in a recording of his heartbeat which would be used as the background of a song Lindsey would record him singing. We said yes!”
Lindsey swiftly produced the recording for the Lemon family and it was played at Don’s funeral.
Gloria added, “Lindsey brought light and joy into my father’s last days. Sometimes the only time he responded was when she came to sing with him. We are so grateful.”
You can support music therapy at Valley Senior Living. Donate online at valleyseniorliving.org or contact Shaun Havis at the Valley Senior Living Foundation at 701.787.7997.