Are Old Tunes Best for an Old Soul?

Music therapy isn’t always the first form of therapy you think of when it comes to senior care, but playing and listening to music has been proven to keep the mind young. When you hear some of the best road trip songs from the 1950s or a song your mother used to sing, the feeling you get is more than nostalgia.

The power of music is universally known and used to instill pride, unite the people of a nation, and create an atmosphere. In recent history, music was used as a treatment for soldiers returning from World War I and World War II for mental and physical healing.

The charitable act of performing music for children, the elderly, or those healing has been in practice for centuries within the U.S. and is documented for almost every culture globally.

If music is not currently a part of your self-care or caretaker routine, it could be in your best interest to count it in.

What is music therapy, and who is qualified?

Music therapy is a therapeutic technique that can help patients achieve mental and physical health goals through various musical and sound methods.

Music and sound can be used to improve mood, be a sleep aid, and increase mobility skills for individuals. With so many things to gain, why don’t seniors and caregivers make more effort to incorporate music into their daily lives?

The answer is that most people don’t think of music therapy as an option. Music is often seen as a hobby or something to do as a leisure activity. However, sound and music can be one of the best ways to treat mental and physical ailments. 

Although simply listening to more music is likely to improve the mood of you or your patient, music therapy techniques are more than pressing play.

If you are a caretaker or just find music therapy interesting, you should know what qualifications you want when looking for a therapist. A trained music therapy professional needs to have been issued the Certification Board for Music Therapists’ credential along with a bachelor’s degree in music, psychology, or medicine.

How is music therapy done?

In a music therapy session, you can expect to do anything from profoundly listening to creating your own music. Activities such as analyzing lyrics, composing music, and singing songs support treatments for emotional, spiritual, and trauma healing.

There are multiple ways a music therapist may use music as a healing agent. Music therapy sessions range from stationary to active, depending on the overall goals for the patient.

To improve strength, mobility, and cognitive abilities, sessions may include dance or rhythm-keeping activities such as tapping fingers and toes to a beat.

You can expect to be asked to talk about the meaning of melodies and lyrics and the emotions that different types of music make you feel. Getting used to instruments such as drums, keyboards, guitars, and harmonicas are highly encouraged, especially if you’re not already musically inclined.

 Each session of music therapy will be different, which keeps the programs engaging and productive. Believe it or not, even methods that target what sounds will improve sleep for older adults and reduce stress.

What conditions can music therapy help?

You don’t necessarily need to be ill or suffering to benefit from music therapy, but it can be a way to supplement other medical forms of treatment. Doctors will often recommend lifestyle changes in addition to prescriptions, but breaking out of old habits is easier said than done.

Music therapy is a great way to create new healthy habits while providing extra support for any already prescribed medications.

A list of conditions and illnesses music therapy can be used to help treat include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Behavior disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Blindness
  • Deafness or hearing loss
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Headaches and migraines 
  • Hormonal imbalance and mood issues
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance abuse
  • Stroke
  • Road rage and anger management

Those who participate in music therapy vary since the treatment is a practical therapy method for a wide range of ages and conditions. Sound and music therapy has shown to improve conditions for those who have participated in military service, people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and victims of trauma and crisis.

This therapy has also shown results for people in correctional facilities, rehabilitation, and individuals with various mental health disorders. 

Not all who participate in music therapy need to receive a diagnosis to start. Others participate to get guidance on stopping self-harming behaviors such as binge eating, undereating, violent or angry outbursts, or those socially withdrawn.

Can music therapy help me physically?

The mental health benefits of both music and sound therapy are more than worth the effort of giving it a try. However, the benefits of partaking in music therapy don’t stop there.

Physical ways patients see the positive results of effective music and sound therapy include:

  • Improved cardiac functions
  • Improved motor development
  • Improved organ function
  • Improved respiration
  • Reduced heart rate
  • Reduced pain
  • Regulated blood pressure
  • Regulated digestion
  • Relaxed muscle tension

The connection between your emotional and physical state has profound effects on your overall health. Regardless of why you’re considering music therapy, there are endless ways you can find life-altering results.

Will insurance cover the cost of music therapy?

If you have to receive treatment for your health, why not choose a therapeutic method that allows you to have fun? Music therapy is just one of the must-haves to improve senior quality of life and is deemed necessary by insurance as well.

If you currently are enrolled in a Medicaid or Medicare health insurance policy, your coverage likely already includes music therapy treatment. Regulation for music and sound therapy differs from state to state, but it isn’t uncommon to need a prescription to initiate the coverage.

The only way to know exactly how much coverage you can receive is by talking to your current provider or shopping around for a better rate. Considering music and sound therapy are beneficial for patients in treatment and recovery, it shouldn’t be challenging to apply for pre-approval.

Talk to your doctor and explore what options are available to help you live a happier, healthier, and more joyful life.

About The Author:  Danielle Beck-Hunter writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, Danielle is an insurance expert who began researching senior care when her grandmother was misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.