Program Uses Music to Lift Spirits in Baden Nursing Home

By Starr, Pamela | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 6, 2007 | Go to article overview

Program Uses Music to Lift Spirits in Baden Nursing Home


Starr, Pamela, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.

Some residents at Villa St. Joseph, a long-term care facility run by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Baden, are playing that old campfire song with Suzuki tone bars, thanks to a $75,000 grant for a music therapy program.

"They love that," said Sister Donna Marie Beck, the director of the undergraduate music therapy degree and certification program at Duquesne University and a Sister of St. Joseph. She said the bell- like musical bars are easier to manipulate for older people.

"Music therapy is doing fun things that keep the motivation and spirits up. It's a very exciting program that started in September," she said. "With cutbacks in money from the government, the elderly get just the basics. There are no music therapists in nursing homes."

Villa St. Joseph is the only nursing home in Beaver County to have a full-time music therapist, Sister Beck said. She approached Ray Niedenberger, director of development at the Villa, with the idea a couple of years ago. He liked what he heard, and he and Sister Beck wrote a grant proposal.

The Staunton Farm Foundation awarded the $75,000, two-year grant in July after hearing that Villa St. Joseph would be conducting research on how music can alleviate depression in elderly nursing home residents. Studies indicate that nearly half of all nursing home residents suffer from depression. All of the participants in the music therapy program have depression, but not dementia or Alzheimer's disease. …

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