Enhancing Senior Care through the Rhythms of Music Therapy

Introduction In the evolving landscape of older adult care, a harmonious revolution is underway, with music therapy emerging as a pivotal tool in enhancing the quality of life for older adults, especially those grappling with cognitive challenges. This article delves into the latest trends and research underscoring the efficacy of music therapy in long-term care settings.

A New Era in Senior Care: Embracing Music Therapy Longevity Health Plan’s recent decision to cover the SingFit platform, a music therapy initiative, marks a significant milestone. SingFit is designed to aid older adults with cognitive and mental impairments, such as Alzheimer’s, through therapeutic music sessions. As Rachel Francine, CEO of SingFit, asserts, “While many national health systems recognize the benefits of music, payers in the US have lagged behind. Longevity’s forward-thinking approach… will accelerate the adoption of music as medicine”​​.

Scientific Backing: The Power of Music on Cognitive Health Recent studies bolster the case for music therapy’s role in senior care. Research suggests that music therapy can slow down cognitive decline in conjunction with pharmacological therapy​​. A randomized control trial highlighted neurologic music therapy’s positive effects on cognition, mood, and behavior in dementia patients​​. Moreover, music therapy is lauded for its potential to improve health, quality of life, and alleviate chronic illnesses like depression in the elderly​​.

Comparative Effectiveness in Dementia and Depression The comparison of group music therapy and recreational choir singing shows promise in addressing dementia and depression in older adults. This area, ripe for further exploration, points towards the need for tailored music therapy interventions for different clinical subgroups​​.

Cognition and Engagement: A Symbiotic Relationship A synthesis of various studies reveals that active and active-passive music therapy approaches significantly impact cognition in older adults with dementia. To better understand the distinction between the two— Active music therapy involves the participants in the creation of music, such as singing, playing instruments, or composing music. This form of therapy is not just about music enjoyment; it actively engages cognitive processes, motor skills, and emotional expression. For instance, a dementia patient playing a simple rhythm on a drum can stimulate neural pathways, encouraging cognitive function and emotional expression.

On the other hand, active-passive music therapy combines elements of both active engagement and passive listening. In this approach, participants may engage in music-making for a period, followed by listening to music. This combination can be particularly effective as it allows for the stimulation that comes from active participation, while also providing the relaxation and reflective benefits of passive listening.

This research suggests that the key lies in the engagement and participation in music, which is central to the therapy’s effectiveness​​.

Conclusion: The Future of Older Adult Care As more older adult living and care operators turn to musical technology for therapy and entertainment, the landscape of  care is poised for a melodious transformation. Music therapy, with its multifaceted benefits, stands not just as a form of treatment but as a beacon of hope and joy for older adults, resonating with the rhythm of their lives and memories.

Final Thoughts The integration of music therapy into older adult care is not just a trend but a testament to the evolving understanding of holistic well-being in the golden years. For caregivers and leaders in long-term care , embracing this modality could be a key step in enriching the lives of those in their care, harmonizing health care with the universal language of music.

TL;DR:  Music therapy is gaining momentum as a key tool in enhancing older adult care, particularly for those with cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s. Longevity Health Plan’s coverage of the SingFit platform underscores this trend. Studies show that music therapy can slow cognitive decline, improve mood, behavior, and quality of life, and even help with conditions like depression. Both group music therapy and choir singing show promise, especially in personalized treatments for different cognitive conditions. Engagement in music is crucial for the effectiveness of therapy. The shift towards music therapy represents a broader understanding of holistic well-being in older adult care, offering a blend of treatment and joy, and signifying a major step forward in enriching the lives of older adults.

Sources:

  1. McKnight’s Senior Living. (n.d.). As more seniors turn to music therapy, health insurer says it will help payers find their groove. Retrieved November 22, 2023, from https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/news/tech-daily-news/as-more-seniors-turn-to-music-therapy-health-insurer-says-it-will-help-payers-find-their-groove/
  2. PubMed. (n.d.). [Studies on the role of music therapy in cognitive decline]. Retrieved November 22, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
  3. Gold C, Eickholt J, Assmus J, Stige B, Wake JD, Baker FA, Tamplin J, Clark I, Lee YC, Jacobsen SL, Ridder HMO, Kreutz G, Muthesius D, Wosch T, Ceccato E, Raglio A, Ruggeri M, Vink A, Zuidema S, Odell-Miller H, Orrell M, Schneider J, Kubiak C, Romeo R, Geretsegger M. Music Interventions for Dementia and Depression in ELderly care (MIDDEL): protocol and statistical analysis plan for a multinational cluster-randomised trial. BMJ Open. 2019 Mar 30;9(3):e023436. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023436. PMID: 30928926; PMCID: PMC6475205.
  4. González-Ojea, María José et al. “Can Music Therapy Improve the Quality of Life of Institutionalized Elderly People?.” Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 10,2 310. 6 Feb. 2022, doi:10.3390/healthcare10020310
  5. Gold, Christian et al. “Music Interventions for Dementia and Depression in ELderly care (MIDDEL): protocol and statistical analysis plan for a multinational cluster-randomised trial.” BMJ open vol. 9,3 e023436. 30 Mar. 2019, doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023436
  6. Domínguez-Chávez, Claudia Jennifer et al. “Use of Music Therapy to Improve Cognition in Older Adults With Dementia: An Integrative Review.” Research and theory for nursing practice vol. 33,2 (2019): 183-195. doi:10.1891/1541-6577.33.2.183
  7. Moreno-Morales, Celia et al. “Music Therapy in the Treatment of Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Frontiers in medicine vol. 7 160. 19 May. 2020, doi:10.3389/fmed.2020.00160
  1. Leticia Prieto Álvarez, Neurologic Music Therapy with a Habilitative Approach for Older Adults with Dementia: A Feasibility Study, Music Therapy Perspectives, Volume 40, Issue 1, Spring 2022, Pages 76–83, https://doi.org/10.1093/mtp/miab021
  2. McKnight’s Senior Living. (n.d.). As more seniors turn to music therapy, health insurer says it will help payers find their groove. Retrieved November 22, 2023, from https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/news/tech-daily-news/as-more-seniors-turn-to-music-therapy-health-insurer-says-it-will-help-payers-find-their-groove/
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