How to Use Music Therapy When a Senior Has Alzheimer's disease

How to Use Music Therapy When a Senior Has Alzheimer’s disease?

We look to music not only to entertain ourselves but to wind down as well. It’s thoughtless and is often considered the sweetest form of art; its effects on us are almost always profound. That being said, can actually be used to heal affliction, too? 

The prevalence of Music therapy for seniors in memory care homes points out that, yes, there is a measure of truth to the practice. The broadness of music therapy as a field only confirms this. There’s also no shortage of music therapy studies conducted on Alzheimer’s patients that back it up. The sole questions we arrive at are how exactly is it being done on seniors and what are the proven benefits?

What Is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is a clinical practice that involves the use of music to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. It’s not something that any clinician or healthcare provider can do since it needs to be promoted and applied by a music therapist, who is familiar with the senior and how to encourage him or her to participate in the activity.

It’s done with the intention to promote communication, learning, interaction, and overall personal development. But in order to truly see how it’s done to promote healing in Alzheimer’s patients, we need to view the practices done in Senior memory care near me.  

Fighting Alzheimer’s with Tunes, Themes, and Tones

Now, we tackle the first question. Senior care living communities and studies that have been conducted on this particular subject often allot a special session dedicated to music therapy. In most of the studies, one important thing became clear: while some physical and mental activities lit up a small part of the brain when it comes to listening to music, it’s always better since it lights up many parts of it. 

This is why, in plenty of cases, the therapist will come up with clear goals to combat the particular hurdles being faced by the senior with certain forms of dementia. He or she will, for example, focus on either boosting communication skills and self-esteem or alleviating the effects of anxiety and depression. A goal can also be to enhance motor skills and relieve pain or boost concentration and memory and reduce the risk of wandering.

Of course, all of these goals will be based on the prior observation done by the music therapist on the elderly. The interests, needs, and preferences of the individual will have to be considered as well, after all. 

What’s amazing is that, in most cases, certain musical pieces can already fulfill two or more of these goals. We don’t need to look further than how your average memory care home relies on music for the elderly with dementia

How Do Alzheimer’s Care Homes Usually Conduct Music Therapy?

While we did say that music therapy often requires the participation of skilled therapists, you shouldn’t exactly consider it rocket science. In most cases, the person will be asked to attend a private music therapy session, usually done once a week or at whatever rate the therapist sees fit for the senior. Normally, these sessions don’t last

What exactly is being done in these sessions? You’ll be surprised that most of them are not particularly anything you’ll deem out of the ordinary, at least, in the way we listen to music in our day-to-day lives. 

For instance, most music sessions will involve playing pieces of music that the senior with Alzheimer’s is familiar with. Usually, they’ll be asked to wear a headphone to eliminate distractions and boost focus. They will then be asked to take part in the musical experience by either giving them their own instruments or simply dancing to the tunes. 

  • Personalized music has been shown to be remarkably potent in helping seniors unlock memories. 
  • Most of it is due to the fact that music is still tied to our emotions, an area that is left unmarred by the progression of Alzheimer’s. 
  • In some music exercises, it’s actually the loved ones of the senior with Alzheimer’s who are asked to construct the playlist that he or she will be listening to. More often than not, they are the only ones who can lend the familiar aspect to the playlist, after all, if the senior is no longer able to recall them. 

Other Ways Music Therapy is Done in Memory Care Homes

  1. Encouraging the entire community, caregivers included, to sing, dance, or play a musical piece. Not only does this relieve depression and anxiety symptoms but it also readily tackles the need for the seniors to socialize, boost their focus, and exercise their motor skills. 
  2. If the senior is not comfortable with taking part in group sessions yet, they will usually focus on private sessions, playing all his or her favorite signs first. Afterward, he or she will gradually be encouraged to participate in group sessions that will dedicate a specific time to playing everyone’s favorite song or tune. This will go on until the senior automatically looks forward to the group sessions and start to actively take part in them.

In most cases, careful attention to preferences and mood will only enhance the effect of these sessions. Don’t expect to get the same results if the person is not in the right mood. It’s equally important to refrain from overstimulation before or during any music session. For instance, it won’t do to have the TV playing while the senior is listening and for the volume to be too loud or quiet.


Is music the closest thing we can get to magic, as far as its wonderful effects on us are concerned? Well, as far as the testaments of seniors and their loved ones, it won’t be farfetched to say yes. Senior daycare for Alzheimer’s personnel, who continue to practice it and interact with seniors regularly, will probably say the same. 

Copyright ©️ 2022 - 2023 Lanternliving | All Rights Reserved.