The Older Americans Act of 1992 listed 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.”
Ever since we opened our music therapy and meditations series playlist on youtube, we’ve received numerous questions about the true benefits. The most common question we receive is how does music therapy actually help an aging loved one. Because of this, we thought it would be a good idea to break down all the ways you would not only improve the memory-based lives of your loved one, but also the physiology of what might ail them.
Listening to music can help seniors process their thoughts and retain memories. Music is automatically associated with memories of past events starting at a young age. For those with Dementia, music from childhood or young adult years has proved to ellicit positive responses, even with patients who no longer are able to communicate.
Music therapy has been proven to help seniors answer complex or layered questions, make decisions and even speak clearer. Speech and language skills deteriorate very quickly after a Dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Begin music therapy on the outset and mitigate that deterioration. Studies have shown that even when a memory care patient loses their ability to speak they are able to recognize and hum along with their favorite song.
Caregivers have a difficult time managing the stress and anxiety level of those with Dementia. Playing music has been proven to relax even the most agitated senior. Slow songs like ballads or lullabies from their youth often help those seniors fall asleep faster. Create a routine of music to help minimize stress throughout the day.
Music can inspire movement in seniors. Music in association with monitored dancing can promote coordination, muscle control, endurance and can also help someone get back to basic activity after surgery or bed rest. Even if your aging loved one is completely immobile, music can inspire toe tapping, arm movement and clapping. Anything that helps the blood flow can be quite beneficial.
The key to instituting a decent music therapy program for your loved one is by learning as much as you can about them in their most formidable years. If you can communicate with them, ask them about their favorite artists, songs or concerts they may have attended. If your loved one is non-verbal simply identify the years of their youth between the ages or 12 and 30. Most people like music from when they were younger. In either case, test and test again to find music styles, artists & themes that affect them the most…and keep an eye out for toe tapping.