The Benefits of Music Therapy

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Music is a great source of comfort for people of any age, but for our older relatives it can do wonders in improving their overall quality of life.

Many Nursing Homes now offer music therapy to help their residents with a wide range of issues including stress relief, pain relief and reminiscence. According to the American Music Therapy Association, it can also promote overall well being, improve communication and aid in physical rehabilitation.

If your older parent isn’t in a Nursing Home, or doesn’t have access to formal music therapy, then simply playing them some of their favourite tunes as often as possible can help do the trick too.

This article has been set out to inform you of all the ways music can benefit your loved one, alongside a ready made playlist to get you started on helping your older relative through the medium of music.

The power of music

Here are just some of the ways music can help to improve the lives of our older loved ones:

Promotes physical movement

As we age, the motivation to move about and exercise declines over time as aches and pains start to crop up. Through music, you can encourage your folks to move around a little more. Simple movements such as clapping their hands along to the beat, or a tap of the foot can help loosen up their joints. If your older loved one is able, choose some music which inspires them to get up off their chair and dance around a little.

As well as helping to alleviate stiffness in the joints, these small acts of movement are a great source of mental relief and can assist your ageing parent in forgetting about their aches, mental and physical, for a short while.

Creates a feeling of calm

Just as with any age, music for older people promotes a feeling of calmness. Choosing music with a soft rhythm can greatly impact their stress levels. Certain melodies can slow down the heart rate, which in turn creates a feeling of calm and tranquility.

Can improve memory function

Music therapy can be particularly beneficial for those living with dementia as it can trigger positive memories and help your loved one remember days gone by.

According to a study carried out by Petr Janata: The Neural Architecture of Music-Evoked Autobiographical Memories, music can elicit powerful responses which can help to slow the effects of progressive forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease.

The study found that music can awaken vivid memories from the past as the section of our brains which is associated with music is also associated with these powerful memories. Thus, by lighting up this part of our brain through music, we can access these memories with more ease.

Petr Janata goes on to discuss the benefits of giving patients with Alzheimer’s their own personal playlists, and that if you can make a soundtrack of their lives before the disease completely takes hold of their capacity to remember, you can help to delay the onset of this complete memory loss.

Reduces feeling of stress

Music has been found to decrease cortisol in the system- the hormone which is associated with stress. By playing music or even just having it on in the background as your loved one goes about their daily tasks can greatly reduce the feeling of stress in their daily lives.

Less stress is beneficial for anyone, but for our ageing parents, alleviating these feelings can go along way in improving their overall quality of life.

Pain relief

It’s been long recognised that music helps us heal emotionally, but the power of music extends even beyond this. The vibration of music can even help to alleviate physical pain.

A study carried out by researchers in Singapore: Progress in Palliative Care, found that music therapy gave relief of ongoing pain to patients in palliative care. The researchers found that by actively engaging in listening to and making music, patients were able to recognise and feel the healthy parts of their bodies again, which led to less focus on the parts that were hurting them.

This pain relief associated with music therapy can help your loved one rest better and ultimately improve their overall well being.

Getting Started

Now that you have more of an insight to some of the wonderful ways music can improve the life of your older loved one, to help you get on the right track here’s the carefully selected Grandpal Playlist of all the tunes we think they’ll love.

Happy listening!

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