Kupuna Caregiver: Music Therapy

Kupuna Caregiver

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Caren Kusaka has been playing the flute for over 50 years.

“When i was 4 or 5 years old, my aunty played in the Hilo County Band and she played the flute and piccolo. One day she got the flute out and says to try it. So I tried it and she was surprised that I could actually blow into the mouthpiece and get a sound,” laughs Kusaka.

Kusaka and her two sisters help care of mom, who suffers from memory loss.

Studies have shown that music can provide emotional and behavioral benefits to help their memory.

“I’ll play an old Japanese folk tune and I’ll ask my mom what’s the name of it. She goes, I don’t know but she’ll hum it and says it sounds familiar,” says Kusaka.

Music also benefits caregivers.

“It’s very relaxing and sometimes it’s very invigorating. When I say invigorating, sometimes when we play with the band and I’m really tired I just don’t want to play. But after two hours of rehearsal, I just feel really good and I’m ready to go again,” smiles Kusaka.

Kusaka and her husband met each other when both were music majors at UH. It’s one of the many things like hiking, running marathons and composing music together that have kept their marriage going for nearly 50 years.

“I don’t boss him around, I suggest,” laughs Kusaka.

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