Soundtrack to Wellness: The Therapeutic Benefits of Music for Seniors

Category News & Blog | Time | Published November 03, 2023

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Music transcends through generations and cultures proving to be a helpful tool for many. The benefits of music therapy for seniors are noteworthy, with an orchestra of positive physical, emotional and cognitive influences.

In this blog, we’ll explore the role music plays in fostering a harmonious and fulfilling retirement lifestyle at Cottage Grove Place, how music affects the elderly and the myriad benefits of music for seniors.

What is Music Therapy

Trained professionals who have completed special music therapy education and programs apply music therapy to help you feel better and improve your health. They use music to boost wellness, ease stress, relieve pain, let out your feelings, sharpen your memory, help you talk better and even aid in physical recovery.

Becoming a certified and professionally practicing music therapist requires a bachelor’s degree from one of the 80+ approved college programs. About 1,200 hours of clinical training, including an internship, also is required. After completion, students take a national board certification exam to become a Music Therapist, Board-Certified, or MT-BC.

Tuning In to Better Senior Health & Well-Being

Music can maintain or improve memory, attention and cognitive functions, helping to keep aging minds agile and resilient. Additionally, music can be used to reduce stress. Music therapists can utilize therapeutic music-based interventions and activities to provide a sense of calmness, lowering cortisol levels and inducing relaxation. Soft and soothing melodies and resident-preferred music guide participants through exercises, fostering inner peace and reducing stress.

Music therapy can also bring happiness and contentment, providing comfort and support, especially for seniors who may be dealing with grief. It can also effectively manage pain perception, offering relief to seniors experiencing chronic pain. Music can be a distraction, easing discomfort and making pain management more effective.

Group activities such as therapeutic singing and listening, active music making, lyric analysis, song reminiscence and more, can promote social engagement among other positive outcomes. These musical experiences help build social bonds, combat isolation and promote the development of cognitive and motor skills. Music therapists use the rhythmic nature of music to encourage physical activity, maintaining or improving movement, mobility and balance. Music reminiscence can also aid in memory recall and emotional connection. Music can even be used to help improve sleep quality when gentle, resident-preferred tunes are enjoyed before bedtime, promoting better sleep patterns.

For seniors who might have trouble expressing themselves and communicating verbally, music becomes a comforting avenue, offering a chance to communicate their thoughts, emotions and life stories more clearly. When words can’t quite capture the feeling, music can step in to let emotions flow and share those deep sentiments.

When music therapy services—individual or group—are not available and you want to incorporate the benefits of music for seniors and bring joy, relaxation and a sense of connection through music into your daily life, here are seven simple activities anyone can facilitate.

  1. Create personalized playlists of your favorite songs and listen to them regularly. If you don’t know how to do this on your smartphone, enlist the help of a friend (or grandchild!).
  2. Attend live music concerts or performances in your community.
  3. Join a local choir, singing group or musical ensemble.
  4. Learn to play a musical instrument, like the piano, guitar or ukulele.
  5. Dance to your favorite tunes in the comfort of your own home.
  6. Share music with family and friends during gatherings or parties.
  7. Explore online music streaming platforms to discover new songs and artists.

Music at Cottage Grove Place

At Cottage Grove Place, we recognize and celebrate the transformative influence of music on senior wellness and its positive impact on residents’ health. We weave musical performers and music-related activities throughout our community, inspiring residents to embrace the rhythm of life with enriching experiences that enhance their physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Recently in independent living, the Eddie Piccard Jazz Quartet treated residents to a rich blend of musical expressions, and Barefoot Becky & the Ivanhoe Dutchmen danced and sang at our lively Oktoberfest celebration.

Musical trips down memory lane are another way we help residents revisit cherished moments from the past. Last month, we dusted off our blue suede shoes and bell bottoms, turning back the clock to the ‘60s and ‘70s for some musical nostalgia. It was a fantastic evening of singing and dancing to the timeless tunes of Elvis, The Beatles, Neil Diamond and other iconic artists.

In the Health Care Center at Cottage Grove Place, we bring in a music therapist from West Music to provide a group session once a month. In addition to that, we’re fortunate to have a talented activities coordinator who’s also a board-certified music therapist. Kelsey uses her therapeutic background when planning activities, music-based or not, for the residents in the Health Center. Although she does not offer music therapy services besides being the activities coordinator, her goal is to eventually offer individual services to residents in the Health Center at Cottage Grove Place.

Cottage Grove is a happy place where the benefits of music for seniors offer a chorus of wellness. Learn more about and how the restorative power of music touches every facet of residents’ lives.

Featured Image: LightField Studios / Shutterstock

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