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September 11, 1991

Music Not Only Has Charms to Soothe, But Also to Aid Elderly in Coping With Various Disabilities

JAMA. 1991;266(10):1323-1329. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470100015005

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ALTHOUGH illnesses vary, very patient at the geriatric day hospital at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), Galveston, receives one therapy in common.

This therapy is unusual in that it elicits immediate and positive effects in nearly all who receive it and has virtually no contraindications. Furthermore, it costs little more than a song because it is precisely that: a song.

"I'm in heaven when we're dancing cheek to cheek," Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald croon. As the tune emanates from the music therapist's portable tape player, 20 geriatric patients seated in two large circles reach out to pat their neighbors' shoulders, look in each others' eyes, and smile.

Music for Mobility, Analgesia  In what is probably the highlight of their day at this specialized facility (one of only a handful of geriatric day hospitals in the United States [see accompanying article]) these patients are about to begin a