bout the 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.

How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?

Essay response by Haylee Lantz, Augsburg College

I’ve been passionate about music my whole life, but more than that, I’ve been devoted to helping others. I didn’t know music therapy existed, but when I found out in high school, I knew it was the right path to go down because it incorporated helping people through music. In high school, music was my favorite subject. My teachers helped me become creative and open myself up to new and exciting challenges, like learning multiple instruments and joining several ensembles. At the time I thought it was just something to do, but looking back I realized each one taught me so many things, like how to be a leader, the more I practice, the more confident I will become, and patients is a virtue. I can apply these lessons to every situation I run into in my life and because of that, I am very thankful for my teachers. Beyond what they taught me, they were also great friends and they believed in me. My teachers pushed me to be the best and they have followed me in my life journey all the way up to today, and are proud of my accomplishments.

Music is a universal language; with music therapy, no words need to be spoken in order to communicate, or find out how a patient is feeling. The music will say it all, which is why I want to be a music therapist. My last memorable encounter with my great grandmother was in 2009. She was sitting in her wheelchair, rocking back and forth in the kitchen on the farm she had grown up on. My family and I gathered around her to introduce ourselves like we always did when we visited. Her in-home care provider had just given her medicine and chocolate milk to wash it down. She was mumbling something we could not understand. “I don’t think that was English,” my mother whispered. It was true; Velda didn’t remember English anymore, so she spoke German, her first language. She was not able to communicate with her in-home care provider to tell her how she was feeling, what she needed or didn’t need, or anything for that matter. Days later, my great-grandmother passed away.

Music therapy is a powerful and family friendly way to create a sense of comfort and security for seniors in their own home, and give families the relief of knowing their loved one is still able to do the things they enjoy. When I do my hands-on music therapy training at school, I am able to read clients’ charts and see that the love of music is one thing they all have in common. With my degree, I am not only able to provide them with music, but also use music to help them express if they’re in any pain, what kind of mood they’re in, get them moving parts of their body they’ve immobilized, and so much more. Why not give them the quality of life they truly deserve allowing them to express themselves through music.

I can’t imagine being in my own home and not being able to understand the language being spoken to me by someone who is taking care of me; I would be scared and frustrated. Given music therapy, Velda would have been able to communicate to her therapist how she was feeling and her therapist would have given Velda that sense of hope; that although no one could understand what words she spoke, someone still understood what she was saying. Music is a universal language; if we all speak it, we can insure happier and healthier lives for everyone.

About Haylee

Haylee is a junior at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota studying music therapy.

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