The geriatric population can be especially prone to anxiety and depression, particularly in old home residents. Chronic diseases causing pain are also not uncommon in this setting. Music is an excellent outlet to provide enjoyment, relaxation, relief from pain, and an opportunity to socialise and reminisce about music that has had special importance to the individual.
It can have a striking effect on patients with Alzheimer’s disease, even sometimes allowing them to focus and become responsive for a time. Music has also been observed to decrease the agitation that is so common with this disease.
One study shows that elderly people who play a musical instrument are more physically and emotionally fit as they age than their non-musical peers.
Music therapy 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.
Music therapy provides:
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.
Non-pharmacological management of pain and discomfort.
Stimulation that 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.
Opportunities to interact socially with others.