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Music Is Medicine

Elderly woman in wheelchair with headphones on listening to music with her home carer

“Music brings us pleasure and releases our suffering. It can calm us down and pump us up. It helps us manage pain, run faster, sleep better and be more productive.”
– Alex Doman, Entrepreneur & Music Producer

Music is so powerful that it calls up the strongest emotions we ever experience and has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to help patients with various symptoms.

Music treats pain and reduces stress. Listening to and playing music increase the body's production of the antibody immunoglobulin A and natural killer cells — the cells that attack invading viruses and boost the immune system's effectiveness.

The field of music therapy has grown tremendously in the past century. Schools and community centres offer music as a part of their usual engagement. Older adults can especially benefit from listening to music, as it gives them an outlet for creativity, socialisation, and mental stimulation. Music therapy is proven to be effective for people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's, fibromyalgia and depression.

People in palliative care who take part in live music therapy sessions report relief from persistent pain. Music therapists work closely with these people to individually tailor the intervention, and these people take part in singing, instrument playing, lyric discussion and even song writing as they work toward accepting an illness or weighed end-of-life issues.

So what is music therapy? At its core, music is sound, and sound is rooted in vibration. There are two main types of music therapy: active or receptive.

During active music therapy people are actively involved in playing simple instruments, dancing or singing. These activities encourage physical stimulation so that is beneficial for physical health.

"Active music engagement allowed the patients to reconnect with the healthy parts of themselves, even in the face of a debilitating condition or disease-related suffering," says music therapist Melanie Kwan, co-author of the study and president of the Association for Music Therapy, Singapore. "When their acute pain symptoms were relieved, patients were finally able to rest."

During receptive music therapy people practise mindful listening for a period of time. Typically it involves specially curated recorded or live music, usually of low frequency. The music choice often reflects the people's culture, generation and personal experiences.

The right music can be an encouraging tool to help your loved ones be more active, physically and mentally. More movement, whether that’s walking, dancing, or stretching along with music, can improve:

  • Heart and cardiovascular health

  • Muscle strength

  • Bone density

  • Balance and coordination

  • Flexibility

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Reduced heart rate

  • Improved breathing

  • Muscle relaxation

Directing a person's attention away from their pain with music therapy can help ease pain and lessen stress.

Since the rhythmic pulses of music can drive and stabilise the disorientation that people with Alzeimer’s or Parkinson’s experience, it is believed that low-frequency sound might help with these conditions. The hope is that using music therapy to restore normal communication among brain regions may allow for greater memory retrieval.

Music helps you release body tension and lift up your mood — all of which can positively impact your overall quality of life.

The same tools that promote physical health through music therapy can also improve mental health by reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. The aim of music is to allow people to address issues and express themselves in a way that they normally cannot with words alone.

Depression and dementia are common diseases among older adults. The approach of music therapy is to improve the quality of life for older adults better what makes it a viable tool for treating depression.

For the elderly, isolation is one of the factors that impacts their mental health. Practising music therapy with family, friends, or Live-in Carers creates means of communication that they usually do not have access to. Even just listening to music regularly can improve communication abilities for older adults who have difficulties with verbal communication.

You do not need to be a professional musician to take advantage of music therapy tools. Live-in Carers implement music therapy elements with their Clients.

If you think that you or your loved one may benefit from having a Live-in Carer, or have any questions about Live-in Care, call our friendly team on 01264 319 399


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