March is Music Therapy Month! The power of music is an incredible force that can evoke strong emotions, bring back heartwarming memories, and provide a meaningful way to express ourselves. It’s not surprising that music has become an amazingly effective tool for therapy.
It’s been observed that seniors especially benefit from listening to music, as it gives them an outlet for creativity, socialization, and mental stimulation. Music therapy has even become an effective treatment plan for older adults with Alzheimer’s.
What is Music Therapy?
There are two types of music therapy — active or receptive. Anyone can participate in music therapy, regardless of musical talent.
Active Music Therapy
As the name implies participants are actively involved with playing simple instruments, dancing, or singing. This activity inspires physical stimulation that is great for physical and mental health.
Receptive Music Therapy
This involves mindful listening to the specially selected recorded or live music. The song choices will reflect the participant's culture, generation, and personal experiences.
Physical Health Benefits of Music Therapy
The right music choices can be a great tool to help seniors be more physically active. Movements, whether that’s walking, dancing, or stretching along with the music, can improve the following:
- Heart & cardiovascular health
- Muscle strength
- Bone density
- Balance and coordination
Playing or listening to music helps seniors breathe more rhythmically. Which helps to improve respiratory health, release body tension, and lift mood. This can have a positive impact overall quality of life. Physically, music therapy can help:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced heart rate
- Improved breathing
- Muscle relaxation
Pain Management Benefits of Music Therapy
Music can help ease pain by directing a person's attention away from their pain and stress and onto the joy the music gives them.
Mental Health Benefits of Music Therapy
Music therapy has been proven to improve mental health by reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. It allows people to address issues and express themselves in a way that they often can’t with words alone.
Depression is a common issue for seniors. Music therapy works at bettering their quality of life making it a great tool for treating depression.
For seniors, isolation has a huge impact on their mental health. Group music therapy can create an impactful means of communication. Simply listening to music on a regular basis can improve communication for seniors who may find verbal communication difficult.
Music Therapy for Dementia & Alzheimer’s
Music is linked to memory. As we go through life, we associate certain songs, artists, or even genres with major milestones and events in our lives, creating a soundtrack for our lives. Older adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can use music to access their past experiences, memories, and emotions.
Music is a strong treatment because musical memories often go untouched by Alzheimer’s disease. Music helps reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and agitation.
Communicating for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s can be hard. These difficulties can lead to isolation and depression. Music provides a way for them to express themselves and communicate with their loved ones and caregivers.
Music therapy can help those with Alzheimer’s get a hold of reality and the things that bring them joy. While it’s no cure, music therapy can at least improve their quality of life.
Favourite Music — a cool gift
The gift of music can be a wonderful thing. Fill your unused iPod or MP3 player or burn a CD with their favourite happy songs to bring joy to your loved one.
The power of music is amazing.
What is your favourite song?