Songs For The Soul

“Love is endless, love is kind, love is marvellous,” Tammy Lim sang cheerily, recounting an experience with a dementia patient. Ms Lim together with her patient composed the simple but endearing three - line tune.

The jingle helped calm the patient, who was increasingly agitated by his worsening memory. During trying moments of disorientation, watching a video where the two performed the song made him teary-eyed. It “touched his heart,” Ms Lim explained.

The music invoked a warm memory in her patient, transporting him back in time. “It is not my goal for them to remember to sing the song… we want to create a pleasant moment for them. It is more about what we can do at this moment,” said Ms Lim of her patients.

The 31-year - old is a music therapist, working tirelessly to uplift the moods of dementia patients at palliative care provider Assisi Hospice. She devotes her days to crooning familiar tunes alongside patients. Her repertoire spans generations and genres, from Teresa Teng’s “The Moon Represents My Heart” to “Amazing Grace”.

With a tinge of melancholy, Ms Lim described how her patients may suffer “extended” grief, depending on the severity of their illnesses. The toll often extends to loved ones and caregivers. But Ms Lim remains inspired to bring comfort to patients, believing it a beautiful way to serve.

There is “much that music can do in [a] medical setting,” said Ms Lim, describing music therapy as a combination of art and science. Believing that she has found her calling, she does research and records sessions with patients, as part of advocating her field’s benefits. We can “make a good day,” she said, smiling while referencing another self - composition.

Ms Lim’s work with the hospice is part of a programme supported by Temasek Foundation Cares. The programme, first of its kind in Singapore, provides individualised, inpatient palliative care to dementia patients and critically ill children.

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