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Magical Music: Hospice Nurse Sings Patient Back to Health

By Sixty and Me November 22, 2018 News

We listen to music for a variety of different reasons – for pure enjoyment, to relax and unwind, to fuel our workouts, to create a certain mood, to help with focus and productivity – the list of reasons for listening to music is seemingly endless.

But, can listening to music or being sung to help save lives?

While the scientific evidence to support this idea is not exactly concrete as of now, there is plenty of evidence to support the fact that music stimulates various parts of the brain and can certainly help to lift a person’s mood and spirits…which can, as a result, have an impact on physical health!

There are examples of music changing people’s lives, both emotionally and physically, every single day, just like can be seen with a recent incident at a hospice facility in Michigan.

Hospice Nurse ‘Lights Up’ Patient’s Life

Nurse Brenda Buurstra has been carefully and lovingly tending to her patients at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan for well over a decade.

Buurstra loves her job and is dedicated to not only caring for her patient’s medical needs, but also trying to make each patient’s stay at the hospital as enjoyable as possible. She explains her role, saying, “Not just taking care of the illness in a patient; to touch them. To touch their life. To touch their heart. To make that awful hospital stay they’re going through just a little bit better, a little bit brighter. I’m not the only nurse who goes above and beyond at Bronson. This is what we do every day.”

One way that Buurstra helps to brighten up her patient’s time at the hospital is by singing to them (and with them), though up until recently, her singing had been a fairly private experience between Buurstra and her patients.

Buurstra told CBS, “I have sung to patients for 14 years, and this is just the first time I got caught.”

She is referring to a recent song that she performed for a hospice patient, Robert Olson, 85, that his daughter happened to catch on film. Olson was admitted to the hospital a week prior to Buurstra’s sweet serenade for breathing problems. Olson’s daughter, Roberta Lytle, explained, “He had an episode at the house, and he couldn’t breathe. So, they took him to Bronson Hospital. He was there about a week. We did not think he was coming home this time.”

According to Lytle, when her father was admitted to the hospital, it was difficult for Olson to even speak at all, able to utter little more than a few words. But after Buurstra’s sweet serenade, Olson was not only speaking, but singing!

Lytle was blown away by Buurstra’s voice and the impact that it had on her father, “We were watching a show on Pat Boone, and he told the nurse ‘I don’t like him, but I like a song that his daughter sings.’ And this lady just starts singing. And I’m just blown away. Because the woman’s got a voice!”

Initially, Buurstra improvised the lyrics, as she did not know them very well, but she returned the next day with the lyrics printed out so that she could provide Olson with the musical performance that he deserved – and it did not disappoint.

Olson’s daughter, Lytle, captured the sweet moment on video and posted it to YouTube:


Lytle truly believes that Buurstra’s song had a life-changing impact on her father’s health, saying, “If you listen to the video, you can hear him trying to sing at the very end. But it changed him. It was like he knew he was going to go home.”

And a week later, much to everyone’s surprise, Olson did go home.

Was it Buurstra’s beautiful voice and sweet singing that gave Olson the strength to leave hospice against all odds?

No one can say for sure, but Olson’s family likes to think so and remains incredibly grateful to Nurse Buurstra, with Lytle saying, “I just hope this woman knows what she’s done for my dad. I just hope Bronson Hospital knows what they have in her.”

How has music changed your life? Do you believe that music and song can have an impact on a person’s health? Share your thoughts and join the conversation below!

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Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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