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Senior Care Innovation Scholarship Finalist Peter Kim

Dana Larsen
By Dana LarsenSeptember 10, 2013

A Place for Mom is proud to announce the commencement of their annual $1,000 scholarship for advancement in the field of gerontology. This is a general scholarship which will award the selected applicants with a financial donation. We have narrowed-down the finalists, which includes Peter Kim.

Congratulations to Peter Kim, Senior Care Innovation Scholarship Finalist! Read Peter’s essay below and vote for him if you think he deserves to be one of the 5 recipients of the $1,000 scholarship awards.

Peter’s Essay

I sit down next to my grandma at the kitchen table.
“Grandma, it’s me, your grandson, Peter.” I say as I tap my hand lightly against hers and lean close. She turns to face me. Lines form around her eyes as she strains to recognize me. But after several seconds, her dementia overcomes her. She looks away, silent.
“She hasn’t talked in almost two days,” my aunt says. “She is losing more memory everyday. Sometimes she even forgets who I am.”
I take out my mother’s old, saddle-colored acoustic guitar from its case. I remember that my grandma told me years before that her favorite song was a Korean folk tune called “My Big Brother.” She liked the song because it reminded her of her older brother whom she had lost in the Korean War.
I begin playing the first few chords of the song. Grandma turns towards me. As I continue playing, I see a smile stretch across her face. Slowly, her mouth opens, and she
begins to sing along – softly at first, but then with full gusto. My aunt rushes over.
“I can’t believe this. I haven’t heard your grandma sing in years! Let me get the tape
recorder.” She runs into the kitchen.
Still singing, grandma looks at both of us and smiles. For a brief moment, grandma is
fully with us. We are together again.
I believe a major area that can bring improvement to the senior care industry is in
alternative therapies such as music therapy. While medicine is a powerful tool to fight
disease, there are many ways in which drugs and western medicine fall short. After my
experience with my grandmother and after volunteering with a music therapy group for
Parkinson’s disease patients last year, I am interested in the potential clinical benefits of
music therapy on cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Currently, many hospitals are hesitant to employ music therapists because of a lack of
supporting scientific evidence in this field. As a first-year medical student at
Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, I have begun a research project
to investigate clinically the benefits of music therapy on symptoms of Parkinson’s disease
and dementia. Patients will work with music therapists in weekly sessions participating in
therapeutic group singing, hand percussion, and rhythm exercises. I am investigating the
effects of this therapy on hand tremor, freezing, volume of voice, emoting ability, and
The reason I am seeking funding is that recently Northwestern University Hospital has
cut from their budget the music therapists who were assisting me with my research.
Therefore, I am seeking funding, so that I can continue my work with the music
therapists and finish my research project.
I believe there may be benefits that music therapy can bring to patients suffering from
Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. With my research, I would like
to contribute to the scientific body of knowledge that clarifies the relationship of music
therapy and symptoms of neurological diseases. My hope is that more people like my
grandmother will be able to benefit from music therapy and be able to have moments, as
we did, of relief and harmony through music.

View otherSenior Care Innovation Scholarship Finalists. Don’t hesitate to congratulate and vote for Peter in the comment form below if you think his essay is one of the most compelling of all the finalists. Keep in mind we are awarding 5 of the finalists with $1,000 which they can use toward their studies. 

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