Benefits of Music Therapy for the Elderly

Seniors May Benefit from Music Therapy

Music has always been thought to hold certain powers to calm, energize, or otherwise improve moods. Whether it’s listening to upbeat music while exercising, playing calming sounds while at a spa, or listing to a happy song when you’re down, music is often able to get you in to a certain mood based on the type of music you’re listening to. Music therapy takes this one step further, and is becoming a trendy therapeutic activity in hospice, assisted living homes, hospitals, and nursing homes throughout the country. Scientists and doctors have discovered many benefits of music therapy for the elderly and have started seeing improved cognitive skills in many patients that have undergone music therapy

Music Therapy Improves Memory

Music Therapists have learned that playing songs from a certain era, songs with a patriotic theme, or religious songs can often trigger memories that the patient has associated with that style of music. In order to get the strongest response from the patient, popular songs from when the listener was in his 20s are played to trigger memories and emotions from that era. Singing along with songs from their younger days has produced benefits among many seniors in the later stages of dementia. Music is unique because it associates words with a certain tune or melody. Because of this, seniors are often able to recall the melody, and in turn remember the associated words. This seemingly small association can often help associate other memories with that song or help improve brain function as a whole.

Social Skills can be Improved through Music Therapy

Music Therapy can also have a positive impact on social skills. For patients that have had a stroke, are suffering from central nervous disorders like Parkinson’s, or have arthritis, singing along with music can help listeners improve muscle use in their face and mouth and can improve the ability to form sentences, express thoughts and emotions, remember words, and communicate with peers. Adding in finger instruments like drums, cymbals, or tambourines can help improve physical functions, which can be a fun way to improve hand usage and motor skills. Improved memory, improved motor skills, and increased ability to speak can all improve self-esteem, and improve the likelihood of the elderly interacting with others. Rather than retreating into a shell because they are unable to function as they want to, they will be encouraged to get out and use their improved skills to talk with other patients, communicate with family, and make new friends. These small steps can go a long way to improving the quality of life in a nursing home, hospice, or assisted living home.

Music Therapy may Reduce Pain

Music Therapy has become such a success in the healthcare industry that some hospitals are often supplementing or even replacing pain medications with music therapy. Many of us have gone to a spa or salon and listened to relaxing music, and have instantly been calmed during our beauty treatments. Music therapy produces the same calming effect, and can help relax tensed muscles to eliminate pain. In the same way that we can get lost in a song, the elderly can be distracted from pain by listening to uplifting or calming music. The benefits are increased when the elderly are able to personally play the instruments, which leads to increasing their mobility, while decreasing their pain.

Music therapy has come a long way since it was first used, and with scientific studies and experiments, doctors have been able to use music therapists to reduce pain, help seniors regain lost memory, and improve social skills. These benefits can lead to a better quality life in the golden years, and can help create bonds between seniors and their family, friends, and medical professionals.


Originally posted 2015-07-28 08:37:15.

Joyce Apperson
Joyce Apperson

Joyce Apperson is a Registered Nurse and Geriatric Care Manager with 15 plus years of experience working with advocating for seniors. She is the founder and President of Caring Connection, Inc., which provides in-home care and geriatric care management in Harford County, Baltimore County and Cecil County in Maryland. Joyce currently serves on the Harford County Advisory Board on Aging. In addition to writing articles here for the Caring Connection's blog, Joyce has been a regular contributor on senior care topics to the County Gazette.

Articles: 27
Skip to content