Music Therapy for Active Aging

Whether being made sleepy by a lullaby, getting pumped up by an anthem, or feeling nostalgic after hearing an old tune, everyone has felt the power of music. And it turns out, music’s ability to affect our mindset and emotions has clinical significance.

Music therapy is an established practice that uses music-based interventions guided by trained music therapists to help individuals achieve various therapeutic goals. It has been found to positively impact memory enhancement, communication improvement, and physical and mental rehabilitation. With its effectiveness at treating age-related concerns like cognition, depression, and chronic pain, music therapy is particularly beneficial for older adults. There’s also very strong evidence that music therapy improves the symptoms of people with age-related neurocognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

What Happens in Music Therapy?

While simply listening to music confers some therapeutic benefits, true music therapy is more involved. Music therapists are trained not only in music but also in psychology and counseling techniques. They work with participants to assess their needs and musical preferences, then use that information to develop therapy sessions tailored to their specific goals.

In a music therapy session, the music therapist may engage participants in activities such as:

  • active or meditative listening to music
  • singing along
  • playing instruments (drums are especially popular)
  • songwriting
  • discussion of lyrics
  • movement to music

The way the activities are structured is carefully chosen based on the participants’ preferences, abilities, and therapeutic objectives. During sessions, the music therapist observes responses to the music and adjusts the activities and music accordingly. Depending on the session’s goals, the therapist may encourage participants to explore emotions, improve self-expression and communication skills, enhance motor coordination, stimulate memory recall, manage pain and anxiety, and foster social interaction.

Music therapy holds a significant place at Miami Jewish Health as a vital and integrated therapeutic approach, woven into the fabric of everyday life. In engaging group sessions, our music therapist brings together 3-12 participants, fostering a safe and supportive environment where they can freely express themselves through music. Additionally, our therapist provides personalized one-on-one sessions for non-ambulatory individuals and those who prefer a more intimate setting.

Our music therapy sessions encompass sensory stimulation to evoke cherished memories and prompt meaningful discussions about the lyrics’ significance. In addition, live music and outdoor sessions are often available to help participants experience the joy of music amidst nature. By embracing music therapy, we open doors to healing, self-discovery, and connection, allowing the harmonies of music to uplift and transform lives.

Are you interested in music therapy and similar activities for your loved one? Visit our nursing home page to learn more about our healthy recreational offerings for seniors needing long-term care.


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