(Adapted from American Senior Communities blog, Oct 21, 2014)

You don’t have to be a professionally trained musician to appreciate the feeling you get when you hear your favorite song. Music has the ability to take us back in time, to evoke memories and feelings from the past. Hearing a tune you love can offer comfort and cheer during times of sadness, and can even turn a bad mood around almost instantly.

The majority of adults between the ages of 65 and 85 are known to have at least one chronic condition, whether it be heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and so on. The aging population can also experience a variety of age-related changes to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This is why Pacific Care Center believes music therapy for seniors is beneficial.

The Benefits of Music Therapy

Music therapy has been proven to help some seniors restore and maintain their health, as well as help them recall memories and fight depression. The Older Americans Act of 1992 defined music therapy as “the use of musical or rhythmic interventions specifically selected by a music therapist to accomplish the restoration, maintenance, or improvement of social or emotional functioning, mental processing, or physical health of an older individual.”

Music therapy for seniors helps with issues such as:

  • Cognitive Skills: Music can help seniors process their thoughts and maintain memories. Many people associate music with past events, and just hearing a song can evoke a memory even many years after an event. For dementia patients, music from their childhood or young adult years has proven to be effective in obtaining a positive response and involvement, even when the person can no longer communicate.
  • Speech Skills: Music therapy has been proven to help older adults answer questions, make decisions, and speak clearer. It can help slow the deterioration of speech and language skills in dementia patients; studies have shown that even when an Alzheimer’s patient loses the ability to speak, they can still recognize and even hum or sing their favorite song.
  • Stress Reduction: Playing music can help relax and ease stress, agitation, and aggressive behaviors. Slow songs like ballads and lullabies can help seniors quiet down and prepare for bed or deal with changes to their routines that may cause agitation.
  • Physical Skills: Music can inspire movement in seniors. Music and dancing promote coordination and can help with walking and endurance. Even if a senior is not mobile, music can inspire toe tapping and clapping, thus getting the blood flowing once again.
  • Social Skills: Increased social interaction with caregivers and others is another benefit music therapy offers seniors. It encourages bonding with others, which in turn can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression.

The key is finding the music that resonates with each person. Asking seniors about their favorite artists or musicians from their past, and introducing music into their daily routines is worth doing, especially if it can help improve their overall quality of life.

The importance of Music Therapy is not overlooked at Pacific Care Center. We regularly schedule activities that allow our residents to enjoy a variety of music genres, and our Rehabilitation Services staff includes Music Therapy as appropriate for each resident’s care plan. If you believe Music Therapy would be a beneficial resource for your loved one, don’t hesitate to contact us at 636-271-4222.