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Hear music suitable for care of the sick on Growth House Radio, a unique blend of music and audiotext education about end-of-life care. It's entertainment with a mission!
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Telling the Stories of Life Through Guided Autobiography Groups
By James E. Birren, Kathryn N. Cochran. Based on James Birren's 25 years of conducting autobiography groups, discusses all the topics an organizer faces while developing a program for adults who want to recall and write down their life histories.
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Life Review in Health and Social Care: A Practitioner's Guide
By Jeff Garland, Christina Garland. Presentation of the theory and practice of the everyday process of life review, which is a therapeutic approach for helping clients make sense of their past, and can be used to help change undesirable behavior and plan for the future. Of general interest even in non-terminal settings.
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Reminiscence Reviewed : Perspectives on Reminiscence Therapy
Joanna Bornat (Editor). This professional book offers a number of perspectives on reminiscence, primarily in non-terminal settings.
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Music Therapy in Palliative Care
By David Aldridge. This compilation covers issues specific to use of music in hospice and palliative care settings.
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Music Therapy in Dementia Care
An essential resource for music therapists working with this population, and an interesting read for anyone working with dementia sufferers in a therapeutic context.
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Case Studies in Music Therapy
Great source of ideas for music therapists and other caregivers.

Life Review and Reminiscence Therapy

In hospice care and in many nursing homes, the process of thinking back on one's life and communicating about one's life to another person is called life review. Life review is an important part of bringing one's life to a close. As life ends, we want to know that we have truly been seen by someone in this world, and that our life has had value and meaning.

The term reminiscence therapy can include a wide variety of techniques used by both professionals and non-professionals in many settings. It can be found in hospitals, senior centers, community groups, and other programs. The effectiveness of reminiscence therapy when used with persons experiencing cognitive deficits such as Alzheimer's Disease, clinical depression, or other mental problems is a subject of some debate, but adherents feel strongly that it can be an effective method to reach the unresponsive elderly.

Reminiscence is common at the end of life and many people find it helpful to reflect on their lives. This can be done in structured ways to recall and sometimes document a life which is coming to an end. Many formal techniques for life review are used in hospice settings, often with participation by loved ones who also benefit from the communication process and by the creation of a permanent historical record. In terminal care the goal of the life review is to help bring closure rather than as a treatment method for confusion or withdrawl, but these benefits may ensue as secondary benefits.

Life review can be considered a form of oral history. Many families find it meaningful to write down stories in notebooks or more formal recording workbooks. Making audiotapes and videotapes can be an important adjunct to the oral history taking.

Use of music in reminiscence and life review

Music can be a very helpful aid in stimulating recall of musical memories. This can be an enjoyable and emotionally-engaging part of life review. Hearing specific music can help people remember meaningful times from the past. Sharing music with others and talking about "old times" with a supportive listener can reduce feelings of isolation. Family members and other loved ones may find it hard to express their feelings, fears, and final wishes when death is imminent. Music can help the social interaction both by offering opportunities for conversation, and by providing a comforting background when words just aren't needed. As death approaches, music in care of the dying becomes a specialized form of support.

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Listen together!

Here are some suggestions for music designed to promote reminiscence in older adults. These selections are intended to stimulate memories and create opportunities for conversation with caregivers, who can also enjoy the music as pure entertainment. For music more suitable for use with the acutely dying, please read about Music in the Care of the Dying. You may also search for music at CDBaby.

Piano Magic and Musical Memories
Piano Magic and Musical Memories (1900s-1950s)
Solo piano renditions of old favorites specifically designed for use in nursing homes. Robert Goldstick has been playing piano for 53 of his 60 years and has loved every minute of it. But the "work" he enjoys the most is when he has the opportunity to entertain our elders in convalescent hospitals and retirement homes. He has performed about 30 shows a month at these facilities since 1993. This CD reflects his experience in what songs and delivery styles are most effective with this audience. Robert's work was featured by PBS as part of a documentary on Alzheimer's disease, "The Forgetting."
Eddie Cantor: Cantor Loves Lucy - All Star Show
Eddie Cantor: Cantor Loves Lucy - All Star Show (1943)
1943 radio shows with the legendary stars Eddie Cantor, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Burns & Allen, Fred Astaire, Dinah Shore.
Eddie Cantor Radio Show 1942-1943
Eddie Cantor Radio Show (1942-1943)
Six rare radio shows on three CDs with Cantor, Dinah Shore, Ida Lupino, Bonita Granville, Cary Grant, Edward G. Robinson, Adolphe Menjou, Hattie McDaniel, Don Barkley and John Charles Thomas.
BIG BAND SOUNDS: Big Band Sounds - Swing Era (1930-1936)
Big Band Sounds - Swing Era (1930-1936)
Three CDs with 30 tracks of professionally recorded, popular, hard-to-find big band/swing era music with excellent sound and quality.
Swingsations: Swing That Music (1920s-1940s)
Swingsations: Swing That Music (1920s-1940s)
Hot and swinging Classic Jazz from the era of the late 1920's to the early 1940's -- guaranteed to keep your toes tapping.
Eddie Cantor: The Early Days (1917-1921)
Eddie Cantor: The Early Days (1917-1921)
Here is a two CD collection that features all the Eddie Cantor recordings from 1917-1921 (including songs from the Ziegfeld Follies) recorded on the Aeolian Vocalion, Pathe and Emerson labels that include alternate takes from these rare 78s.
SCOTT KIRBY: The Complete Rags Of Scott Joplin Vol. 2
The Complete Rags Of Scott Joplin Vol. 2 (1899-1917)
Joplin's classic rags performed by Scott Kirby. Includes favorites like Pine Apple Rage, Maple Leaf Rag, Scott Joplin's New Rag, The Cascades, and more.