It’s More Than Just Music At The Clare In Chicago

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In recently hiring the music therapist on their staff, The Terraces at The Clare are among the first retirement communities to embrace the important therapeutic value of music. A major boost for the cause of music therapy has come in the wake of Congresswoman Gabby Gifford’s seemingly miraculous rehabilitation from a brain injury, as she utilized music therapy to regain her ability to speak.

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“There are important connections in the brain between music and speech. Sometimes you can sing before you can talk. Music therapy is becoming much more part of the news now. At The Terraces, it’s part of every day,” she said.

Nikki Gamble’s grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease while Nikki was a freshman in high school. During the subsequent years Nikki said, “I saw each stage of the disease. During the last few years, I’d go visit my grandmother and although she’d lost her ability to speak, she’d respond to music and in fact could still sing some hymns, and for just a little while, we had my grandma back,” she said. A talented musician who sings, and plays guitar, ukulele, piano and clarinet, Nikki said that she always knew she wanted to pursue a career that somehow included music. Seeing the impact that music had on her grandmother, helped her to decide to earn her degree in music therapy.

Nikki’s official title at The Terraces at The Clare is life enrichment manager. The Clare is a luxury retirement community located in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast. The Terraces offers assisted living, memory support, rehabilitation, respite and skilled nursing. As the life enrichment manager, Nikki coordinates various programs and activities for the residents. With her background in music therapy she said, “I try to integrate music into what I do. I know the positive effects music can have on everyone, even if it’s just background music for a tea party or the topic of a discussion. Music is always a nice addition to whatever else we’re doing.”

Nikki leads a weekly group called Music and Memories, which she said “uses music and a weekly theme to promote movement, discussion, reminiscence, sensory stimulation and much much more.” Additionally, she said she frequently takes her guitar around to visit residents. “Some people will sing along with me. These are often people who don’t typically respond to other things. They’ll even often make eye contact with me or answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions while I’m providing music. I have a lot of positive interactions with music that I might not get just visiting or talking with someone. It’s a personal connection,” she said.

Nikki also makes sure to regularly schedule musical events for the residents. “We have evenings of entertainment during which we bring in outside entertainers. They’re always popular events,” she said.

Nikki said that it’s very forward thinking of The Clare to employ a music therapist on staff. While the benefits of music are documented and well accepted, Nikki said that music therapy is still a growing field. “People are hearing about music therapy and learning about its positive impact,” she said. A major boost to the cause was when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was recovering from her brain injury and used music therapy to regain her ability to speak. “There are important connections in the brain between music and speech. Sometimes you can sing before you can talk. Music therapy is becoming much more part of the news now. At The Terraces, it’s part of every day,” she said.

The Clare at Rush and Pearson is a Life Care retirement community in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast with incomparable lifestyle, amenities and the financial stability only a debt-free community can offer. The Terraces at The Clare, which partners with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, provides assisted living, memory support, rehabilitation and skilled nursing. The Terraces has earned the 5-star quality rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Clare is owned by Chicago Senior Care and managed by Life Care Services. For more information visit: http://www.TheClare.com or call 312-784-8100.

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Bridget Machalinski

Bridget Machalinski
@TheClare1
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