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Music as a Global Resource: - International Council for Caring ...

Music as a Global Resource: - International Council for Caring ...

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SECTION: Music for Mental and Physical Health COUNTRY: Israel PROJECT: SINGING FOR EMPOWERMENT AND BELONGING: A MUSIC THERAPY PROGRAM FOR ELDERS IN A COMMUNITY CARE FACILITY DESCRIPTION: Singing with others is an empowering experience that unites individuals, offers a sense of belonging and enhances their cultural, social and personal identity. As an individual or group activity, singing can lift people out of their depression and take them beyond any mental or physical disability. This is particularly true at the Zahalon Geriatric Center, a community day care center serving elderly people with mental and physical disabilities in Jaffa, Israel. The Zahalon Geriatric Center provides music therapy services to three groups: patients with Alzheimer‟s, patients who are bedridden (also called “tshushim”), and “normal” elders who live independently in the community and visit the Center a few times a week for social, therapeutic and learning purposes. One of the most successful projects at the Center, to date, has been a music therapy program with elderly individuals living in Jaffa. This group consists of twenty people, mostly women, age seventy and up, who arrived in Israel prior to its independence and took part in building the country. Most individuals in the group come from low socio-economic neighborhoods. All have good expressive language; however some are illiterate and suffer from various health issues such as physical disabilities and depression. Music therapy sessions are offered by a trained music therapist, once a week, for one hour. Overarching goals are to improve self confidence, strengthen daily coping skills, enhance overall mood and bring joy and fulfillment. Sessions begin with an improvisation on various percussion instruments. Next, the music therapist facilitates a group singing experience in which members sing a variety of old and familiar songs that are meaningful for them. During a discussion following the singing, group members share childhood memories as well as national and personal issues related to peace and security in the region, family and health. Special attention is given to songs concerning group member‟s love for Israel and the strong connection to their country. By singing these songs together, each individual gains a sense of empowerment and belonging that sustains them outside of the music therapy group and into their communities. CURRENT STATUS: The community music therapy program at Zahalon Geriatric Center is funded by the day care center in Zahalon Geriatric Center, and has been active for two years. Since more people expressed an interest in participating in this project, a second group is planned to open within the next month. The Center hopes to expand this program to other cities in Israel and create similar groups in other community centers. It strives to deepen the awareness of music therapy in Israel, to demonstrate the importance and effectiveness of music therapy for the elderly and to have more music therapists working with this population in the future. The community music therapy program at Zahalon Geriatric Center has continuous contact with the music therapy program at Bar Ilan University. For the past ten years, students from Bar Ilan have been doing their internship in Zahalon. 126

RESEARCH AND EVALUATION: Zahalon Geriatric Center currently utilizes informal evaluation procedures to assess its program. An ongoing dialogue with participants following the sessions reveals that participants enjoy playing and singing together and that being in the group contributes to feelings of belonging and social empowerment. Their life force is also enhanced; each group member learns how to support and take care of others while also receiving the same support. CONTACT INFORMATION: Organization Name: Zahalon Geriatric Center Address: Zahalon Geriatric Center, 100 Jerusalem Boulevard, Jaffa, Israel Phone: 9723 5133437 Contact Person: Nurit Shtruzman, Music Therapist Email: nuritte@gmail.com 127

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