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Music therapist Alison Hughey finding new ways to stay connected, provide care

For the past few years, Alison Hughey has been leading music therapy groups at several senior care communities across the Upstate. With her on site sessions now sidelined due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Hughey is finding new ways to provide care.

Using video conferencing tools, Hughey is holding tele music therapy sessions to stay connected and to continue to provide therapies that have proven beneficial to those suffering with dementia.

“Listening to music, singing and playing instruments are extremely important for connection, self-expression and socialization,” says Hughey, a board-certified music therapist in private practice and the owner of Carolina Music Therapy LLC. “Music can be a powerful catalyst for reminiscence, long-term memories and a sense of self. That’s what is fascinating about music and dementia. People often will reminisce and respond to specific songs.”

Despite not being there in person, Hughey says her memory care patients are responding well to teletherapy.

“I speak to them, wave to them, call them by name and interact as if I was there and they respond back to me,” she said. “We’re trying to keep things as close to normal as they can be.”

Numerous studies speak to the healing power of music. For example, music-based interventions have proven to decrease distress and shorten the length of stay for infants in neonatal intensive care units. For older people, many patients unable to walk because of Parkinson’s disease can dance perfectly well and patients almost unable to speak are able to sing perfectly well, studies show.

For more information on music therapy, visit the American Music Therapy Association.

Credits for the song Hughey sings in this video: Written by Karl Anthony, 1989. Inspired by Allison Davies, Music Therapist #everylittlecell

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