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Music Therapy for Senior Holistic Care

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Holistic care seeks to address some of the aspects of your health that traditional care options can sometimes overlook. The holistic approach works to heal more than the body by taking the mental and spiritual needs of a patient into consideration. Things like aromatherapy using essential oils and color therapy help promote wellness that, when used with the direction of a healthcare professional in conjunction with regular care options, can lead to a happier and healthier you.

Music therapy is a type of holistic care that involves listening to, creating, or moving to music. A certified music therapist can assess the needs of an individual and create a plan that can improve physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Seniors in particular, whether in assisted living communities or other senior living communities, can greatly benefit from music therapy as it is low-effort and provides a number of holistic benefits.

Benefits of Music Therapy

Stress Reduction

Music therapy can help seniors relax and focus not on their surroundings— which can often be stressful or frightening— but rather to what they are listening to. The right music and lyrics can slow an anxious heart rate and help seniors relax.

Pain Alleviation

As with stress reduction, using music therapy can help seniors by focus their attention on the music rather than any physical pain that they may be suffering from. The treatment can help seniors by creating a sensory stimulation that relaxes muscles and calms the mind.

Bringing Seniors Together

Music therapy is often a social activity. Seniors can listen and do activities in groups while connecting to each other through the music. Being in a group during therapy helps seniors feel less isolated and alone. And an improved social life is important to your loved one’s overall well-being.

Physical Movement and Exercise

We all know songs that immediately get our feet tapping, and music therapists know how to take advantage of this. Music encourages movement. Swaying, tapping, dancing, and clapping are all forms of physical movement that can improve a senior’s well being without being straining and taxing on the body.

Improved Mental Health

Listening to music changes our moods. We notice this as we listen to our favorite songs and playlists. Some music can brighten us up, while other music can have a sobering effect. Music is incredibly powerful when it comes to affecting our moods, and a trained music therapist can harness that to improve the mental health of seniors.

Cognitive Benefits

One of the most unique benefits of music therapy compared to other holistic care options is the improvement it has been shown to have on cognitive functions in seniors. The rhythmic sounds and vibrations in music increases blood flow to the brain, which can help with a senior’s ability to speak and think clearly.

Music Therapy, Dementia, and Alzheimer's

A major reason behind the use of music therapy as a holistic care treatment for seniors is the relation between music and memory— namely, memory loss diseases like Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Music therapy has been shown to help seniors who are suffering from these ailments.

Music can trigger intense memories, even in patients who struggle with memory loss. There have been cases of unresponsive seniors in late stage dementia moving and interacting with music, and cases of nonverbal seniors humming or making noises during music therapy appointments.

Music therapy can also help pacify some of the aggressive and agitated behaviors associated with memory loss disease. As with stress and pain management through music therapy, the relaxing sounds and rhythms can help soothe seniors and encourage calmness.

Paying for Music Therapy

A big question that you may have is whether music therapy is a reimbursable service through a healthcare plan. Under Medicare, music therapy is a fully reimbursable service so long as they are included in part of a treatment plan rather than as a recreational activity. With Medicaid, music therapy can sometimes qualify under existing treatment categories. Each state is different, so make sure you know beforehand.

Private insurance usually goes through a case-by-case study, but nearly all major health care plans have reimbursed for music therapy at some point. Make sure that you have the backing of a health professional and a treatment plan to show how music therapy will help to reach treatment goals.

Final Thoughts

Music therapy provides great benefits for seniors, but as with other holistic care options it shouldn’t be taken as a magic cure for all ailments, or as a replacement for traditional medical care. Music therapy works best when combined with other care therapies.

Another thing to keep in mind is the lack of verified scientific research and scientific studies done on music therapy. While it is an established health profession there are some claims of what music therapy can do that ought to be carefully considered before they are believed.

You can find a music therapist near your loved one, or a sometimes a nearby open class specifically tailored for seniors. The benefits of music therapy when administered by a certified music therapist are incredible, and your senior family member can enjoy all the benefits of this holistic care treatment.

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