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How Music Therapy Helps the Elderly


Music is both universal and personal. It has a profound effect on how we feel. Certain types of music are soothing and uplifting to most listeners, whereas each person has their favorite bands, and tastes range from pop to hip-hop to heavy metal. A ‘headbanger’ is more likely to experience peace and wellness from listening to the latter than to classical music. You are never too old to enjoy the music you love. We discuss the effects of music therapy below.

Positive Physical Effects of Music Therapy

Music therapy has been attributed to many positive effects on the listener.It has been found to assist with physical symptoms, such as pain management in cancer patients. Music therapy has been used effectively for all age groups, from babies in the womb to seniors.

Managing Moods

Research indicates that by simply listening to your favourite music, your brain starts to release endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that cause an uplifted mood and have an analgesic effect. Many seniors suffer from the aches and pains that come with aging, such as arthritis.

Dancing to the music you respond best to can assuage sadness, lift your mood, and provide a feeling of happiness. Music is all around us, but we tend to overlook its healing capacity. Yet what could be simpler than to put together a playlist of songs and bands that make you feel good so that you can listen to them whenever you feel low?

Take a Trip Down Memory Lane

Nostalgia occurs when we are taken back in memory to a happier time and place. Music has the ability to evoke nostalgia in the listener. If you have an elderly parent with dementia, you can help him/herto create a playlist of best-loved ‘golden oldies’. Dementia has a marked effect on memory structures in the brain. Facilities that offer memory care St. Louis use music therapy to engage dementia patients. A recording of a sufferer’s favorite songs can connect the person to their happiest memories.


Insomnia in the elderly is quite common.If your parent has this problem, get some music recordings for your loved one to listen to at bedtime. Look for nature-based CDs, such as the soothing sound of the sea. Soft music with a slow tempo causes a similar slowing down of the heart rate and breathing. The result is that the person drifts off to sleep more easily and for longer.

Energy for the Day

Just as calm music leads to restful sleep, musicwith a fast tempo is energizing. Endorphins are released, mood improves, and sluggishness disappears. Music therapy for the elderly is designed to stimulate activity and keep the body moving for better health.

Resolving Issues

Your senior parent doesn’t need to avoid melancholy music. Certain songs and lyrics are meaningful to the individual, for example, one that speaks of the loss of a partner. It can help your loved one to work through grief with music that expresses what he/she is feeling. We should not avoid our negative emotions but instead, work through them to realize peace on the other side of the catharsis.

Music therapy is available to everyone. Encourage your elderly parent to embrace music therapy for a healthier, more contented life.

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