Benefits of Music Therapy for the Elderly Senior Health & Wellness.
Music is powerful.
Rhythm, sounds, and melodies have been used for over 45,000 years and probably much longer. Music is an innate human trait. Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used to address individuals’ physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs – from young children to aging and elderly adults.
Music offers various physical and mental health benefits to older individuals. Listening to music and learning to play instruments have become a form of therapy for seniors. The treatment is so much fun that it’s considered entertainment or social activity in many senior living communities.
Music can be incorporated into any lifestyle. Songs can bring back fond memories and bring instant smiles. There are many ways to add therapeutic music into our lives and those of our aging loved ones. This writeup will give you some ideas you can try. In a clinical sense, Musical Therapy’s goal for seniors is to maintain or improve physical health, mental processing, and social functioning.
Improve Memory and Focus
Music Therapy for seniors involves memorizing words, patterns, rhythms, and instructions. To participate and “make music,” participants must practice focusing enjoyably. Engaging with a group motivates participants to stay the course and perform for the team.
Calm Agitation in Dementia Patients
Music therapists use songs with distinctive themes, lyrics, instruments, and rhythms to help participants relax. This slows down the heart rate and lowers the level of the stress hormone cortisol. The effect causes seniors to feel calmer and physically more capable of relaxing.
Help with Depression and Stress
Music is a powerful healing tool. It can reach inside us and impact our deepest emotions. Energetic music and joyful songs can instantly pull us out of depression, fear, and hopelessness. Just listening to music that is meaningful to us helps deliver relaxation and stress relief. The social interaction is so uplifting to seniors who may be lonely and disconnected. Depression can be forgotten while an individual is occupied and enjoying the activity.
Increase Movement and Exercise
Some Music Therapy activities include movement. This can range from clapping to moving arms and legs and shaking instruments of every shape and sound. Often participants make music together with a variety of instruments and tools. Once relaxed, the natural reaction is to start swaying and even dancing to a beat. Those who are sedentary enjoy these benefits as well.
Enhance Communication Skills
Music Therapy is a valuable tool for memory care patients. It helps by slowing the decline of speech skills. Individuals who are no longer able to verbalize are inspired to communicate their feelings by humming or moving their hands. Participants are also encouraged to communicate through singing, making it easier to express their true feelings.
Help with Socialization
Many aging adults, particularly those with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurocognitive disorders, experience severe social anxiety. Social anxiety creates fear and agitation. Music Therapy for seniors can break through this fear and allow the unique opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of others. Working as a team also encourages and comforts those who
At Passionate Elderly Care Initiative(PECi), we encourage Health Music Therapy because it is an important, everyday, therapeutic strategy. We support group sessions involving 3-12 participants. Our plan of care encourages Music Therapist to work one-on-one with individuals who are bedridden or those who respond better alone.
The key thing is that there is always a sensory stimulation, which often results into the groups break out in conversation about the songs. They bring back fond memories and prompt discussions about the meaning of the lyrics.
Live music performances are an integral part of life. The ability to enjoy music outdoors, with nature, is one of our seniors favorite pastimes.
Mazi Ottih Nwaka is a Gerontologist, Community Based Social Worker and Mental Health Professional.
He is the Co-Chair/Facilitator
Abia State Stakeholders Consultative Forum.