It’s been said that “music can soothe the savage beast.” Music has also been shown to relax individuals undergoing medical treatments, those recovering from illnesses or injuries or those who simply need to lower their blood pressure. Whether the music is classical, rock and roll or a parent singing to a child, music can help individuals connect with one another.
Residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities benefit when there are musical events such as sing-alongs or when holiday songs are sung together. Music therapy can help seniors reconnect and may stir memories of times past. Singing a song may prompt the residents to chime in and help stimulate their memory as well.
Music therapy is a way for individuals to reach out and stay connected even if they are no longer mobile. It is a way to help them express themselves and provides an opportunity for creative expression and inclusion. It’s thought that music therapy can improve the quality of life for residents suffering from dementia, depression or the effects of a stroke. Even if, over time, Alzheimer’s patients can’t recognize their friends or family, they can sometimes still be reached through music therapy because the music stirs up long-term memories – areas of the brain they can still access.
Playing music in the assisted living common rooms is thought to help the residents connect and relax, but music therapists use the music to encourage “emotional expression, promote social interact, relieve pain symptoms, and other treatment goals.” The type of music therapy is determined by the individual patient’s needs.
What does this mean for you, the caregiver? When you’re visiting your aging parents turn on the radio to a station that plays songs from their era. Engage in a sing along – reconnect through the music while you’re performing chores around the house or eating dinner with them. Encourage them to turn on the radio when you’re not there. Gift them with a CD player and some music you think they might enjoy in your absence. Music will help keep them company and when coupled with the home medical alert device, you’ll have some added peace of mind.