Happy Seniors' Month! June is a time to celebrate the older adults in your community and raise awareness about the common issues seniors experience. One way to do this is to stay informed about the ways in which seniors can benefit from various practices that improve their quality of life. Music therapy, defined as the clinical use of musical interventions to improve clients' quality of life, is one practice that improves the physical, mental, and emotional health of seniors. Listed below are 5 ways in which music therapy has proven to help seniors suffering from cognitive disorders.
1. Music Therapy Boosts Mood
Listening to and engaging in music helps to decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels - all indicators of stress. Music therapists work with seniors to reduce depressive symptoms and improve their mood. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, including singing and instrument playing to preferred music, improvising, songwriting, or listening and reflecting.
2. Music Therapy for Dementia-Care
Did you know that over 747,000 individuals are living with dementia in Canada? Music therapists work in dementia-care settings including long-term care, retirement homes, adult day programs, and assisted living facilities. Music therapy can help patients with dementia to improve mood, reduce emotional distress, manage pain and discomfort, increase self-expression, and improve social interaction.
3. Music Therapy for End-of-Life Care, Loss & Bereavement
Many older adults experience loss as their spouses, siblings, and friends age and pass away. Music therapists can play an important role in both palliative care settings, helping to ease discomfort for those at the end of life, and in the bereavement process, working with seniors to cope with and process grief.
4. Music Therapy for Social Isolation
Feelings of isolation are common among seniors, as they tend to have higher instances of lack of mobility, death of loved ones, and declining health. Social isolation can lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical conditions such as high blood pressure. Music therapists can help to reduce social isolation by involving their clients in meaningful interactions, forming a strong therapeutic relationship, and having them engage positively with peers in group sessions. Interestingly, research shows that when we sing and listen to music our brains produce a hormone called oxytocin, which is a hormone that is released when we form social bonds.
5. Music Therapy for Cognitive Stimulation
Music therapy not only helps seniors to connect with others, but it also helps them to reconnect with themselves. Studies have shown that using musical instruments therapeutically has enabled seniors to engage with music’s cognitive components such as rhythm, tone, and recognizing a change in music notes.
Do you have questions about how seniors can benefit from music therapy?