Music Therapy and Elderly Care

Music therapy treatment is efficacious and valid with older persons who have functional deficits in physical, psychological, cognitive or social functioning. Research results and clinical experiences attest to the viability of music therapy even in those who are resistive to other treatment approaches. Music is a form of sensory stimulation, which provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability, and feelings of security associated with it.

After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, qualified music therapists develop a treatment plan with goals and objectives and then provide the indicated treatment. Music therapists structure the use of both instrumental and vocal music strategies to improve functioning or facilitate changes that contribute to quality of life quality. They may improvise or compose music with clients, accompany and conduct group music experiences, provide instrument instruction, direct music and movement activities, or structure music listening opportunities.

When individualized music experiences are designed by a professionally trained music therapist to fit functional abilities and needs, responses may be immediate and readily apparent. Participants without a music background can benefit from music therapy.

Music therapy provides opportunities for:

  • Memory recall which contributes to reminiscence and satisfaction with life
  • Positive changes in mood and emotional states
  • Sense of control over life through successful experiences
  • Awareness of self and environment which accompanies increased attention to music
  • Anxiety and stress reduction for older adult and caregiver
  • Nonpharmacological management of pain and discomfort
  • Stimulation which provokes interest even when no other approach is effective
  • Structure which promotes rhythmic and continuous movement or vocal fluency as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation
  • Emotional intimacy when spouses and families share creative music experiences
  • Social interaction with caregivers and families

-American Music Therapy Association


For further reading on music therapy and dementia research read more here: Music Therapy and Dementia