Jeanine Young-Mason, EdD, RN, CS, FAAN
Consultant, Creating Healing Environments in Healthcare
Singing for the Joy of it, Singing for Hope, Singing to Heal: Music and Song Improves the Lives of Those with Parkinson’s Disease, published in Clinical Nurse Specialist: The International Journal for Advanced Practice Nursing 26(6), p. 343-344.
Click here to read then entire article
The current contribution follows previous Nursing and the Arts Columns in which I explored the power of dance to enrich the lives of those with Parkinson’s Disease and the power of art and music to transform the lives of those with dementia. The ways in which artists, dancers and teachers involved in these programs are affected was also considered.
These essays explore and describe some of the many ways in which the creative arts can engage the healing power of the human spirit. Why is this important? Because doing so honors the humanity of the individual. It stirs the imagination. It fosters hope. It is joyful. It stimulates the brain. It makes use of all of the senses. It is empowering. It is a social activity. It revives comforting memories. It honors the uniqueness of every person. It refreshes. It heals. It relieves stress and worry. We now know that “stress can cause a person’s immune system to be suppressed, and can dampen a person’s emotional and spiritual resources, impeding recovery and healing.”
(Smith, R.& B. Wilkins. “Therapeutic Environments” WBDG Forum, 6/10/2010)
How does the creative act of singing affect the body? In “Singing for the Joy of It…..” I relate in some anatomical detail the ways in which the act of singing can counter the troubling symptoms of PD that impede communication, the ability to swallow and facial masking. There are serious psychological implications to diminished ability to speak, to communicate, to enjoy a meal with family and friends. The ability to fully communicate with health care providers is also diminished. The individual may be ignored or worse pitied. Ultimately, they may experience a sense of isolation in the midst of those they love and those they depend on for healthcare.
I took this detailed approach hoping to convince practitioners who might be doubtful that such an intervention as the creative art of singing might be able to mitigate these troubling symptoms. It is understandable that anecdotal stories might not be convincing in and of themselves. However, they are very compelling. And then there are practitioners who have already been encouraging this involvement in the creative arts for some time, who, I hope will continue to share their stories as well as their research.
Ultimately, it is my fondest hope that CNSs will interweave the creative arts into their practices, their environments of care.