Seasons of Advocacy

SM Advocacy Badge 2012_400x400This blog is about music therapy for older adults. If you love both of those – music therapy and older adults – then I am calling on you to be an advocate, to help more older adults have access to meaningful, therapeutic music experiences.

We can all be advocates by using our voices and energy and connections, but depending on your stage and situation in life, your advocacy may look different.

Which season of advocacy are you in?

Self-Advocate

Maybe you are someone with early stage Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease, or maybe you are dealing with depression or loneliness yourself. Maybe you recognize that working with a music therapist would benefit you and others in a similar situation. This is where self-advocacy comes into play.

The most powerful thing you can do as a self-advocate is to share your story and ask for what you need. Whether it’s by speaking up in your community’s resident council, talking with your hospice team members, or testifying before a state legislative hearing, telling your story helps others to understand the impact of music therapy more than anything I could say.

Current Caregiver

Perhaps this season in life involves caring for a loved one at home or managing their care from afar. If so, you are most busy advocating directly for your loved one. You probably know your care recipient better than anyone and understand best both their musical background and desires and their ongoing healthcare needs.

The most powerful thing you can do as a current caregiver is to ask for what your loved one needs. You can tell your loved one’s care team that they would benefit from music therapy and ask for help arranging private music therapy or coordinating music therapy groups in a senior living community. You can also speak up by telling government officials, business executives, and other powers-that-be that you want to see music therapy benefiting your loved one now. Again, your personal story is powerful and your words will be heard.

Caregiver Emeritus

Eventually, you will no longer be an active caregiver, and you may find yourself with more time and energy, and the will to make a change for the next older adult and caregiver to experience what you’ve been experiencing.

The most powerful things you can do as a caregiver emeritus are to share your story and to use your unique skills to make change happen. You may have the bandwidth now to engage in advocacy efforts that match up with your special gifts and talents, and you may advocate for music therapy by volunteering your time for music programs, serving on boards or committees, fundraising, or helping organize outreach efforts, for example.

Eldercare Professional

As an eldercare professional, any of the above categories may already apply, but you are also in a unique position to advocate for music therapy in your workplace and with colleagues.

The most powerful thing you can do as an eldercare professional is to make connections for education and outreach. You can:

  • Push for music therapy programs in your organization
  • Facilitate trainings or events on the topic of music with older adults
  • Share your observations of music therapy based on your expertise as a professional
  • Facilitate connections across disciplines

What Will Your Next Step Be?

You’re reading this blog, so you already know that music makes a big difference in aging and care for older adults. Now you know what advocacy stage you are in and how you can make a difference NOW in advocating for music therapy with older adults. What will your next step be?

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