Music therapy has long been used to help and heal, and Kathleen Sarnes, a registered nurse with VNSNY Hospice Care, uses the healing power of song every day.
Kathleen was featured on the TODAY show in a special segment on “The Power of Music.” Music, she says, is a big part of the care she provides to her patients. “Nursing isn’t just giving medications—you’re catering to a person’s mind, body, and spirit.”
Kathleen’s talent for and love of singing came from her grandmother. She has a huge repertoire of tunes, from folk songs to advertising jingles to heavy metal, that she sings to and with her patients. Music, she finds, helps her connect with them, so at a home visit, she’ll ask her patients about the music they like to sing.
“Singing a song someone knows can really help them,” Kathleen says. She’s found that singing can help to lower her patients’ heart rate and blood pressure, as well as lessen their pain and anxiety. “Singing takes them back to a happier place,” she says. “The stress lines fade from their forehead.”
Music also helps Kathleen keep her own stress at bay. “You have these thoughts that are just racing and racing. Music slows the whole world down, and when you’re feeling anxious it can just calm everything.”
Best of all, singing makes her patients smile. And that means the world to Kathleen, who wants to be a place of peace for her patients. “How could you not want to do that for them?”
She never forgets what her grandmother told her: “I want you to remember one thing. The people you’re taking care of…weren’t always sick. They were just like you.”
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