Hospice therapist uses keyboard to uplift patients

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Hazel Stevens reached out to touch her music therapist.

The eye contact that went away when Alzheimer’s disease gripped her life returns as Karla Mramor sings to her.

Hazel’s daughter and caretaker, Debbie Noonan, is overjoyed.

“It’s unbelievable, the interaction she has with Karla,” she said. “Typically there’s not that kind of interaction.”

If Noonan had her way, the home visits with the music therapist from Hospice of Naples would be daily.

Her mother was diagnosed 10 years ago with early-onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 57. Today she’s confined to a wheelchair and no longer speaks.

“She still knows us,” Noonan, 38, said. “She may not call us by name. Typically she doesn’t talk. Every once in a while she will come out with something that just floors you.”

Last Friday during Mramor’s third music therapy visit to the Noonan’s home in East Naples, where she brings her portable keyboard and digital guitar, Hazel absorbed the music and rocked gently back and forth in her wheelchair. Her mouth moved to form words.

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