Baptist Health Senior Behavioral Health-Fort Smith Adds ‘Music Pharmacy’ to Group Therapy Sessions

FORT SMITH, Ark. – Baptist Health Senior Behavioral Health-Fort Smith recently added a “Music Pharmacy” to its group therapy sessions thanks to Musicians On Call, a national nonprofit that gives patients access to the healing power of music.

About the ‘Music Pharmacy’ Program

Mandy Kuykendall, CTRS, applied for the free program and received three Amazon Fire tablets with access to Pandora radio and three pairs of Bose headphones to use during activities with the patients in the senior behavioral health unit. As a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Kuykendall organizes daily therapeutic group activities such as stretching, singing, games and crafts to provide cognitive and sensory stimulation. Many of the patients in the unit are over the age of 55 and experiencing some degree of dementia.

Recalling Memories from the Past

“Music is a common bond for our patients,” Kuykendall said. “Some will begin to remember concerts they attended when they were younger and start telling stories to each other. I love it when they sing along and share that it has been many years since they’ve heard the song.”

Each tablet also features three custom “mixtapes” with names like “Prescription Strength,” “Chill Refill” and “Dose of Joy” which feature music that promotes positivity and healing for the hospital environment, according to Musicians On Call. Kuykendall says some of her patients’ favorites include Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, The Mamas and the Papas, gospel and anything disco.

Cultivating Joy with Music at the Senior Behavioral Health Center in Fort Smith

“The ability to experience pleasure is one of the last cognitive functions to go in dementia patients,” said Crystal Lougin, MS, LPC, Director Behavioral Health at Baptist Health-Fort Smith. “So, once they hear that music, it triggers memories of a happier time and impacts their overall well-being. It’s a great addition to our program.”

Baptist Health is an Arkansas-based, locally owned and managed, not-for-profit, and faith-based health care organization. Baptist Health is also Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization with more than 200 access points and approximately 11,000 employees operating 11 hospitals. For more information about Baptist Health, visit or call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.