Benefits of Music Therapy for Seniors

music therapy for seniors

Advanced research on health therapies reveals the positive impact of innovative treatments such as music therapy. Overall, there are various therapeutic methods that can be helpful in improving motor skills, mobility, balance, coordination and cognitive performance in seniors. In this blog, we will focus specifically on music therapy and how it can be effective for seniors as they age.

The Cleveland Clinic defines music therapy as the clinical use of music to accomplish individualized goals such as reducing stress, improving mood and self-expression. It can also help with memory retention, lowering blood pressure, increasing motivation, improving self-esteem, managing pain and increasing joy. Fortunately, you do not need a background in music to reap the benefits. 

There are 4 types of music therapy that a therapist can utilize. A therapist that is well versed in using music therapy will determine what method is most beneficial for the patient. Below we explain the various therapy options and their benefits:

  • Receptive 

During receptive music therapy, the individual listens to music, while they sit quietly and relax or the therapist might have them meditate while the music plays or draw to the beat of the music. Receptive music therapy is used for relaxation, to reduce anxiety, encourage memory and help patients develop auditory skills.

  • Improvisation 

This method of music therapy has patients make music using their body (i.e. clapping or whistling) or their voice. The therapist will then listen to and interpret the client’s mood from their actions.The benefits of improvisation music therapy include encouraging connection with another individual through music and using music to communicate. This is especially effective for patients that have difficulties using words/language to communicate how they are feeling.

  • Composition

A patient can be tasked with composing their own music. This form of music therapy encourages creativity and fun, which can serve as an effective stress reliever for seniors, especially for those feeling down. Creativity is also good for the brain and can combat cognitive decline.

  • Re-creation

Re-creation therapy involves having a patient listen and recreate music. This can be done with instruments or singing. A therapist will play music for a patient to recreate. This therapy method promotes social skills and human interaction, as well as self expression and creativity.

In addition to the benefits discussed, studies show that music therapy has proven to be beneficial for combating Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. It’s shown to be effective at reducing agitation, improving behavior and allowing those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to communicate and connect more with their loved ones when verbal communication has declined. It also helps relax seniors struggling when their routines change; which can often be a trigger for agitation or anger in those with cognitive impairment.

Music therapy is just one of many innovative therapies for seniors. While alone it is not a cure for health issues, the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive benefits of music therapy are important to consider what is best for a loved one and their continued health. 

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