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The “Why” Behind Music and Seniors: by Dori Laack, Arbor Terrace at Crabapple

The “Why” Behind Music and Seniors: by Dori Laack, Arbor Terrace at Crabapple

July 09, 20243 min read

Health and wellness is important to everyone at all ages…especially our seniors. When we think about what creates positive health and wellness, do we typically think about music and its benefits?

Music is a powerful force that can create strong emotions. It can bring back heartwarming memories and provide ways to express oneself. With this type of impact, it is not surprising that music can be an effective tool in everyday life and in therapy because it can reduce anxiety, depression, pain and improve mood as well as help with mental alertness. It can also improve working memory, recognition memory and cognitive processing speed, and slow age-related cognitive decline. Reducing blood pressure, improving sleep quality, and even helping with stroke recovery can happen from music. Best of all, music can provide a sense of togetherness, happiness, pride, and reduce stress amongst all.

The field of music has grown tremendously in the past century as stated in the “Healthy Aging Guide.” Music therapy is now being offered in schools, communities, adult day centers, assisted livings and memory care communities. Seniors can especially benefit from listening to music as it provides them with an outlet for creativity, socialization, mental stimulation, and it sometimes helps seniors keep hold of reality and the things that bring them joy.

Did you know that music therapy has even become an effective treatment plan for older adults with Alzheimer’s and/or Dementia? People with Alzheimer's and/or Dementia sometimes find it hard to communicate and when this happens it often leads to isolation and depression. With the use of music, it provides a way for them to express themselves and communicate with others. Older adults with these diseases can use music to access their past experiences and memories and help them to grasp onto their experiences and identities. While it is no cure, music therapy does improve the quality of life for older adults living with Dementia and/or Alzheimer's.

So what is Music Therapy?

There are two main types of music therapy: active or receptive.

Active music therapy is when you are actively involved with this type of therapy. It usually involves playing a simple instrument, dancing, or singing. These types of activities encourage physical stimulation that can be beneficial for physical health too.

Receptive music therapy is when you are mindfully listening to music for a period of time, and it typically involves specially curated recorded or live music. The song choices will often reflect the person’s culture, generation, and personal experiences and likes.

The right music can also be an encouraging tool to help seniors become more physically active.
More movement, whether that’s walking, dancing, or stretching along with music, can improve the following:
Heart and cardiovascular health
Muscle strength
Bone density
Balance and coordination
Directing a senior’s attention away from their pain, anxiety and/or depression with music therapy can help because it can release body tension, lift up their mood and most of all it can positively impact overall quality of life. Physically, music therapy can help improve breathing and muscle relaxation too. As seniors go thru life, they will likely associate certain songs, artists, or genres with major milestones and events. These songs create a soundtrack in your life.

“Music is to the soul what words are to the mind” by Modest Mouse

If you would like to learn more about music therapy in assisted living and memory care, please contact Arbor Terrace at Crabapple at 770-649-1009.

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Stacey Poehler

Executive Producer, Good Neighbor Podcast: Milton & More

Publisher: Our Milton Neighbor, Crabapple Neighbors, Hickory Flat Neighbors


(470) 664-4930


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