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Benefits Of Music Therapy For The Elderly

Written by Michele Houck
August 10, 2022
Benefits Of Music Therapy For The Elderly
Table of Contents

Why are people talking about music therapy for the elderly?

Music has a unique way of bringing joy and jolting positive memories. A single song can spark positive emotions and feelings in seconds.

Music Therapy. What Is It?

Music Therapy is a formal process of using different musical techniques to help people with emotional, mental, and physical health.

Music Therapy is different ‘treatments’ that include listening to, singing, and even creating music. According to the American Music Therapy Association, formal music therapy was defined and first used by the United States War Department in 1945. It helped military service members recovering in Army hospitals with occupational therapy, education, recreation and physical reconditioning.

As caregivers, we are always seeking ways to have a positive impact on the health and wellness of those we take care of. This includes those in physical rehabilitation, working on their range of movement, and all of those who need more motivation to get moving. Music is shown to be effective at helping people get through emotionally tough times and better cope.

How Does Music Therapy For The Elderly Work?

Music therapy has shown to be effective for symptoms of emotional, physical, and even spiritual needs. This type of ‘fun’ therapy is a go-to treatment for elderly patients as well as people who have survived a stroke or have dementia or alzheimer’s.

Why music? It’s the good stuff that helps stimulate cognitive function and opens up opportunities to learn or relearn skills. Music helps trigger memory. There are both short and long-term recall benefits when there is music involved.

Recent research backs this up and points to the fact that music may improve mental health as much as exercise. A scientific review published in JAMA concludes that music’s benefit to mental health is actually comparable to that of exercise.

Are you looking for a healthy exercise for those who have cognitive decline such as demetias and alzheimers? A dementia patient may be able to remember things better or recall the joy and happiness associated with music.

Music Therapy Treatments

There are several different kinds of music therapy treatment options available for those who need it. These include:

Song Selection

A lot of us enjoy hearing the music they grew up with. It’s best to go with their generation of music. For example, my mom had a fierce love of all things Neil Diamond, so we belt out anything from Hot August Nights. With song exercises, people choose the songs that help make their day. We all like to relive the good times in our lives and feel the happiness.

Name a Song

Name a song or name that tune is common activity in music therapy. While this game seems simple on the outside, this is really a memory exercise. First, play a short clips of music. Next try to recall the song’s name, melody and lyrics. This helps dig up some memories from the past and strengthens memory recall.

Sing Along

Karaoke anyone? A lot of seniors will find plenty of happiness being able to choose their favorite songs to play. Sing-alongs bring just as much joy, if not dancing. For any larger groups, the therapist display the lyrics to the song for everyone to sing along with. Some therapists have found more success by having different performances of popular sing-along songs. This is a good way to get friends and family play too.

Play Classical Music

Oh the classics! This genre of music is well known to be good for mental health, helping babies sleep and for studying. Give seniors the chance to enjoy more downtime with the classics; it can help promote more restful sleep.

Music Therapy Professionals

Music therapists bring their toe tapping and music loving sweet skills directly short term and long term facilities or online. We recently caught up with Alexis Baker, MT-BC, Founder and Owner at "Singing at Home and Music with Alexis". In her job, she shares her sweet skills and love of music with individuals, family care homes and senior living communities, with a focus on programs for senior care.

We asked her "where do we start when introducing music therapy to seniors or people with dementia or alzheimer's?"

"The first step is to try to find what music people will relate to. Narrow down the decades where they would be paying attention to music; like from their teenage and early twenties.
Finding music that people connect with is where you see best beneftts, but you also need to pay attention and adjust is there is overstimulation.".

Benefits Of Music Therapy For The Elderly

Music therapy is a simple way to keep our brains active and young. It helps our loved ones recall memories and ward off depressive thoughts and feelings. Depression can be common among the elderly.

Physical Skills: Music therapy can be a good way to encourage people to move. It can help them get more movement into their daily life by encouraging them to dance more. They burn more calories and keep better movement in their daily life through clapping, toe-tapping, and shaking what their mama gave them.

Cognitive Well-Being: Music therapy is a good way to help people retain their memories and process them. Music has strong ties to events and memories from the past.

For best results; find the right music, and make sure it resonates with the person you are helping. It’s fun for both of you to learn what music played at their wedding or while they were driving with the top of their car down along the beach. This exercise is all about resurfacing joy and purpose.

We end on this happy note; music therapy is a fun addition to help a loved one age gracefully as well as ward off depression. The CircleOf app is designed to help ensure that caregivers can organize, collaborate, and ask the team for the next song in your mixed tape.

Gather your care circle’s custom music selection (AKA their mixed tape) and help your loved ones move through the tempo of aging.

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