Music Therapy for Seniors With Alzheimer’s Disease

The sound of music has been part of lives for thousands of years, and has stimulated different emotions within us. Music has given us the power to escape to a different mental and physical dimension. It assists us in recalling wonderful memories, promotes relaxation and may energize individuals to a higher awareness. This therapeutic use of music is now a tool for healthcare professionals. It is use in a wide range of fields, for instance, to facilitate development in infants (Whipple J. 2005), expand communication in autistic children (Farlow, P. 2009) and to accelerate different levels of affection in the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease (Hanser & Clair, 1995).

Music therapy has been in use in the healthcare field for many decades, but has gained more prominence in the last 30 years, especially in the field of geriatrics. Music therapists have used audio stimulation to improve the mental and physical health of seniors with dementia. Qualified therapists use music therapy to alleviate anxiety and stress, improve self-esteem, promote physical activities, assisting in connecting seniors with earlier life events and to maintain other physical and mental health (Koger, Chapin, Brotons, 1999). Music therapists design and implement programs to meet the needs of their clients. They use certain music selections to ascertain favorable expressions from the individual patient. Therapists continue to evaluate their client’s progress over time to determine effectiveness and may modify their approach to improve their outcome. Programs have proven beneficial when therapists involve their clients in the musical experience. Seniors may be asked to list their favorite songs to listen to, write and sing songs, play an instrument, dance or move to music and discuss their feelings with the therapist about their session. These therapy sessions are also modeled to promote memory and concentration (Prickett & Moore, 1991), improve social interaction (Prickett & Namazi, 1992), influence emotions (Tobloski & McKinnon-Howe, 1995), regulate pain (Wigram & Backer, 1999) and to provide a since of security for the individual client.

Studies have concluded that music therapy is an effective intervention in improving the recovery process in most seniors with a mental or physical condition or impairment. The therapeutic use of music by a trained professional assists the elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Music has given seniors a more active role in maintaining a social relationship with others while inspiring their cognitive talents. Therefore, give life to a senior with Alzheimer’s disease. Give them Music!