Gilva was married to her husband George, a Holocaust survivor, for 30 years after they met and fell in love in South America. Both artists and music lovers (romantic tunes for Gilva, classical music for George), the couple created beautiful works of art together over the years. Late in life, George developed dementia and other medical issues. As his health declined and he became less communicative due to the dementia, Gilva was heartbroken. In her words, “He’s here, but he’s not here.”
When George started to receive MJHS Hospice services, Gilva found the support invaluable – not only from the medical staff, but from the rabbi and music therapist. The music therapy – an MJHS program fully funded by philanthropic support from donors like you – helped the couple reconnect and renew their love. While the music therapist would play and sing Frank Sinatra songs and other music from the American Songbook, George would become more engaged by the end of each session, and a smile would come to Gilva’s face as she reminisced about the early days of their romance while holding George’s hand.
Music therapy provides avenues for communication for those who otherwise are unable to express themselves, and also helps with memory recall, both of which can bring about improvements in quality of life for people like George who suffer from dementia. Music therapy has been shown to help reduce psychological symptoms of dementia, such as anxiety and agitation, and it can also reduce stress for family caregivers and increase emotional intimacy with their loved one through shared musical experiences.