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Advancing our Vision...of Memory Care

Marie was having a difficult day. More agitated and distressed than usual due to symptoms related to her dementia diagnosis, significant medication changes, and adjusting to her recent move to Messiah Lifeways, she couldn’t seem to find peace. But an interaction with Board-certified music therapist Kristyn Beeman - funded by the new Snelbaker Music Therapy program - made all the difference.

Marie’s life has long been underscored by a love for music and dance. Her daughter, Jolene, fondly recalls a childhood filled with the sounds of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack blasting on the radio and the the sight of her parents joyfully dancing together in the kitchen. Marie and Frank, who passed away recently, loved Broadway shows, the symphony, local dances, and any opportunity to enjoy music.


Perhaps that’s why Marie had an immediate response to Kristyn’s interventions as a music therapist. Her face and demeanor changed right away as music washed over her and soothed her frazzled nerves. With another daughter, Marg, looking on with amazement, Marie sang along, clapped her hands, and even attempted to dance while Kristyn played songs like “I Did it My Way” and “Accentuate the Positive.” Marg tearfully shared that this was the first time she had seen her mother smile in two months. In one poignant moment,

Marie put both hands on Kristyn’s cheeks, drew her close, kissed her, and said “you’re nice.”


This is the power of music therapy as a cutting-edge, forward-thinking intervention for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, speech impairment, and a host of other cognitive, emotional, and physical diagnoses. 


And, it is an inspirational example of what can happen through the generosity of a donor with a vision and the desire to make a difference. Carlyn Snelbaker, who created the Snelbaker Music Therapy program in memory of her husband, Richard Snelbaker, Esq, says “Music is appeals no matter our politics, our ethnicity, and our background. All of us need the music that helps us transcend our circumstances.”

The Snelbaker Music Therapy program brings music therapists to Messiah Lifeways three days per week to work with residents in nursing neighborhoods, enhanced living, and a residential living support group. We are grateful for this transformational program and the generous philanthropy that made it possible.

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