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 music therapy for seniors and their caregivers can be so 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 patient 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: Some caregivers have difficulty managing their aging loved one’s stress and agitation. Playing music they enjoy can help relax and ease the aggressive behaviors. Slow songs like ballads and lullabies can help prepare your loved one for bed or deal with changes to their routines that may cause agitation.
- Physical Skills: Music can inspire movement in seniors. With music comes dancing, after all. Music and dancing promote coordination and can help with walking and endurance. Even if your loved one 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 can offer 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 your aging loved one. Talk to them about their favorite artists or musicians from their past, and start introducing music into their daily routines. It’s worth testing, especially if it can help improve the overall quality of life of your loved one.