Benefits of Music Therapy for Seniors

Posted: August 3, 2022

Health & Wellness

Benefits of Music Therapy for Seniors

People of all ages, especially older adults, can benefit from the power of music. As a form of creative expression with a significant impact on our emotions, it’s no surprise that music can be an effective tool in therapy settings.

Music therapy has gained popularity in recent years, and now many schools and assisted living communities have added it to their offerings. Listening to music can benefit older adults by providing mental stimulation and encouraging socialization and self-reflection. Music therapy can even be an effective treatment method for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Keep reading to learn the health benefits of music therapy for older adults.

What Is Music Therapy? 

Music therapy is the clinical use of music to help accomplish goals like reducing stress and improving mood. This clinical approach can help older adults emotionally, psychologically, physically and cognitively. It can even improve a person’s communication skills.

Music therapy can be an active process or a receptive one:

  • Active music therapy: This type of music therapy involves actively participating in music, whether by dancing, singing, discussing or composing. Activities like dancing encourage movements that are beneficial for physical health, which is especially helpful for older adults. Singing as part of a group or discussing music can help strengthen social bonds and bolster mental health.
  • Receptive music therapy: This form of treatment involves mindfully listening and responding to music. The song choices will often reflect the person’s generation, culture and personal life experiences. 

What Are Some Methods of Music Therapy?

A musical background or talents aren’t necessary for a person to participate in any form of music therapy. Anyone can experience its beneficial effects, though older adults may find this form of treatment especially helpful in improving their cognitive, social, physical and mental health. A music therapist may ask them to tune into their emotions while listening to or creating music based on their feelings. 

Music therapeutical approaches include: 

  • Analytical music therapy: Analytical music therapy encourages individuals to improvise musically through singing or playing an instrument. Improvisation can help bring out unconscious thoughts, which they can reflect upon with their therapist. 
  • Cognitive-behavioral music therapy (CBMT): This approach combines cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with music. In CBMT, therapists use music to help clients reinforce positive thought patterns and adjust negative ones. This approach is structured and may include dancing, singing, playing an instrument or simply listening to music. 
  • Community music therapy: This form of treatment is most common in community settings like senior assisted living. As the name implies, community music therapy requires a group, often with engagement from each member.

Benefits of Music Therapy for the Elderly

Benefits of Music Therapy for the Elderly

 Music therapy can help individuals feel happier while alleviating physical ailments like acute and chronic pain, high blood pressure and tense muscles. The benefits of music therapy include:

Physical Health Benefits 

Music can encourage older adults to be more physically active. Whether that means walking, dancing or stretching along with music, older adults can appreciate improvements in their:  

  • Heart and cardiovascular health.
  • Bone density.
  • Balance and coordination.
  • Muscle strength.
  • Flexibility.

Playing or listening to music can help older adults breathe rhythmically, improving their respiratory health and relaxing muscles. Those with osteoporosis or chronic pain may find that music is a powerful tool to release tension in the body and breathe a little easier, improving their overall quality of life. Physical benefits of music therapy for the elderly include:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Improved breathing.
  • Reduced heart rate.
  • Relaxed muscles.

Mental Health Benefits

The mental health benefits of listening to music have made music therapy in assisted living communities increasingly prominent. One of the primary goals of music therapy in these communities is to help older adults improve their cognitive and mental functioning and express themselves creatively. 

Mental health benefits of music therapy include:

  • Improved well-being: Music promotes better mental health and reduces symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression. One study found that listening to music for just one hour helped reduce anxiety for individuals in stroke rehabilitation.
  • Increased social connection: Isolation significantly impacts the health of older adults. Group music therapy can bring people together and help older adults communicate with others in ways they wouldn’t usually have access to. Even just regularly listening to music can trigger the brain to release oxytocin, a hormone that encourages people to form social bonds.
  • Help with trauma: Music therapy can be part of treating trauma symptoms by helping older adults process their feelings, reduce stress and regulate emotions. It has also become a healthy coping mechanism and tool for individuals recovering from addiction. This form of therapy can help people process their trauma in a safe and relaxed environment.

Music Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease

Cognitive challenges become more common as we age. Music therapy can be a powerful tool for treating depression, Alzheimer’s and age-related diseases. Since music is linked to memory, you’re more likely to associate certain songs, genres and artists with past events and milestones. These songs can help older adults connect with their memories and past experiences. 

Musical memories often remain intact in those with Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive challenges, making music therapy an incredibly effective treatment option. It can reduce overall anxiety, depression, agitation and stress associated with these conditions. 

People with Alzheimer’s may also face communication challenges, which can lead to isolation and depression. Music can be a fantastic tool for self-expression and communicating with caregivers. Familiar songs can help individuals with memory loss hold onto their identities and experiences. 

Overall, music therapy can bring joy and help clients hold onto their reality, improving the quality of life for those struggling. 

Learn More About Demaree Crossing

Learn More About Demaree Crossing

More and more studies reveal the power of music in strengthening mental, physical and cognitive health. Music therapy is especially beneficial for older adults, who can appreciate relaxation, joy and creativity through making music, dancing and listening to their favorite songs. 

Demaree Crossing is an assisted living community that provides memory support programs and engaging enrichment for older adults. Our welcoming community can help your loved one engage in music therapy and other creative opportunities to live a more meaningful, happier lifestyle. We aim to provide a personalized approach to life and care and help residents achieve a comfortable and supported way of life.

To learn more about our programs, contact us today. 

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