Song writing with clients who have dementia: A case study.
Ahessy (2017) provides an overview of the role of music therapy in dementia care and then discusses a single case study to highlight the potential of song writing as music therapy. The study involves a 94yr old woman who received individual music therapy over a period of 18months. Margaret began with improvised playing of the piano with the therapist but this developed over time to where she was able to co-compose songs with the therapist. There were improvements in Margaret's focus and attention and she took great joy in recognising herself and her story in the songs. Even when Margaret forgot she had written the songs, she could remember the words. Ahessy describes how after a cardiac arrest, Margaret became more subdued but the sessions continued to provide a way for her to emotionally connect with her evident fear of dying. He concludes that Margaret was supported in songwriting to connect with and express her emotions. She was able to sing, to improvise and to compose in collaboration. He suggests music therapy allowed her to experience herself in new ways and to strengthen her sense of self. Acknowledging the difficulties in quantifying the impact of therapies such as music therapy, Ahessy quotes Chavin (2002) who argues that "music is not a frill. It is something that we should simply consider adding into a dementia programme. It is essential to life."