Music Therapy for the Elderly: Does it Really Work?

There are many types of therapy that elderly patients may require. The majority of these are already familiar to us and include methods such as regular exercise, the prescription of specific medications and stimulating creative activities. However, were you aware that music can have a profound impact upon quality of life within a care facility? While research is still ongoing, a number of fascinating observations have already come to light. We will examine a handful of the most surprising throughout the remainder of this article. 

A Quick Look at the Two Types of Musical Therapy 

Before moving on, we should briefly mention that there are two discrete categories of musical therapy:

  • Active therapy 
  • Passive therapy 

Active programmes include dancing, singing or playing instruments. Receptive therapy is instead associated with mindful listening exercises. Deciding which is the best option will involve the physical condition of the individual as well as his or her personal preferences. 

Physical Benefits 

Anyone who suddenly hears a favourite tune or a catchy melody is well aware of the physical effects of music. We will often be inclined to tap our foot, to begin singing or even to get up and dance. It has been shown that musical therapy can have many amazing advantages in terms of physical health. Examples include: 

  • Improved balanced and coordination 
  • Greater bone density 
  • Enhanced muscular strength 

Even if physical responses are not realistic, passive listening can still lead to lower blood pressure, a reduced heart rate and improved breathing. 

Mental and Emotional Effects 

It can be argued that the mental and emotional impacts of music therapy are even more rewarding. For example, did you know that studies have shown that listening to music will help to improve mental cognition while reducing levels of a stress-related hormone known as cortisol? Lower cortisol concentrations have been linked to calm feelings and reduced anxiety. 

Yet another interesting effect of music upon the mind is associated with how specific melodies can often be used to treat chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. While the exact mechanisms are not well understood, it is thought that listening to familiar tunes can help to reactivate portions of the brain that might otherwise remain “asleep”. 

One Option Within a Well-Rounded Approach 

To be clear, any type of musical therapy should be employed alongside a host of other proven care techniques. This will provide a synergistic effect that ultimately benefits the individual. Such a well-rounded approach has already ben adopted by countless reputable assisted living facilities and our specialist care homes in Devon are pleased to offer numerous bespoke solutions. 

Music represents an innate portion of our very existence and there is no reason why it should not be enjoyed at any age. Just as music is said to soothe the savage beast, it can also offer stunning results to those who might otherwise feel as if their lives have become stagnant.

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