The distinctive tune of the harmonica emits from the Humana community location on Western Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee. It is followed by laughter. Both sounds are sweet to Talinda T. who attended the Harmonicas for Health class with her 81-year-old mom, Lovetta.
“Prior to this class, I would say that I was a very negative, critical person, and primarily because I didn’t accept where (my mom) was at this stage in her life,” Talinda shares in a video about Harmonicas for Health participants. “But to see her blossom, to see her having difficulties with breathing, able to play that harmonica, whether it was just a tune here or a tune there. It has changed me for the better so that I can better help her.”
As the video explains in more detail, Harmonicas for Health teaches two breathing techniques recommended by the COPD Foundation. COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 12 million people have been diagnosed with COPD, and the American Lung Association estimates more than 24 million adults have impaired lung function.
Earl S. has asthma. He took the no-cost Harmonicas for Health class to help him with his breathing, but also to be part of a community. “What I read is that … one key to longevity is to be part of a community, where people know your name, and if you don’t show up, they’ll ask about you. People in those kind of communities tend to live better and longer. That’s something I’m really interested in.”
Glenn Meyers, MD and medical director in Tennessee, concurs. “With Harmonicas for Health, (Humana) members who have emphysema can exercise, can lose weight, can feel better, get those endorphins up, feel healthier, and get back out into the community.”