Music Therapy is a non-invasive, person-centered approach to improve quality of life and address mental health needs of older adults. As we age, often our bodies and minds begin to fail. However, music often remains a connection point to the world around us. Music therapy can be a way to reconnect, engage, and elicit memories with older adults no matter their age or ability. We believe music is a part of our life cycle and that it can be a means to celebrate life through memory sharing and life review through individual, group, or hospice music therapy sessions. 

How Older Adults Benefit from Group Music Therapy

Music therapy from the Groovy Garfoose brings all the joy of music making, listening and playing but with added benefits: Our person-centered approach helps build a foundation of respect and rapport that can elicit non-musical goals like reduced stress and isolation, increased social engagement and orientation time and place. Our therapists are warm and non-threatening skilled at engaging seniors cognitively, socially, musically, emotionally and physically.

What Does a Music Therapy Session with Seniors in Memory Care Look Like? 

Our sessions are customized and target to help seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s achieve goals and improve their quality of life. We create unique interventions to target goal areas such as, communication, socialization, reminiscence, cognitive stimulation, gross & fine motor movement. Our music therapist will begin the group with a greeting song, designed to engage and motivate group members to move, sing, and participate. Next, interventions such as songwriting, active instrument playing, movement to music, and cognitive musical games. Music is played both live and recorded to maximize engagement. Additionally, all the songs are from the era when our group members were teenagers, as research shows that our memory can best recall music from this time in our lives. Typically, a music therapist will engage group members in reminiscence experiences, springA theme, such as weather or 4th of July create a cohesive thread between each song and experience throughout the session. The session concludes with a farewell song. At the end of one of our recent sessions, a group member voluntarily shared, “You are the only person who comes and makes us feel so happy!” Music therapy has the ability to accomplish goals while still sparking joy. 

Why Music Therapy for Hospice Patients?

It is common for hospice patients to feel isolated and disoriented. They are often bedridden and secluded and often suffering physical and emotional pain. Music therapy is one way to connect with them. Our team of music therapists are first and foremost people-centered. We are listeners and observers, trained to quickly assess each patient’s physical and cognitive needs and music interests. Then we engage patients in music they know and love. By meeting each patient with care and support we offer music experiences designed to take their mind off of their pain or bring calmness to disoriented and anxious patients. And it’s not just the patients that experience relief and peace, it’s their families too. Families who may not have seen their loved one express themselves in a long time.

How Hospice Music Therapy Works

In the hospice setting, music therapy is a non-invasive and compassionate therapy for pain management, spiritual support and emotional expression for patients and their families to approach death and dying with dignity regardless of their musical preferences, cultural or spiritual background. After receiving a referral for a patient, the music therapist reviews their chart, noting their musical preferences as well as reason for referral. Next, we enter the patient’s room and are able to provide immediate support for the patient. This could include active therapeutic singing and music making with instruments for positive social engagement and stimulation, as well as songwriting to process feelings associated with end of life. Music therapists are trained to provide bereavement support as well as create musical legacy projects to provide well-rounded care. 

Patient P was isolating and experiencing symptoms of depression. She would not go to group activities or socialize with her friends. When music therapy came in, she intially turned them away. Then the music therapist gently suggested just one song. The MT played a live version of Que Sera Sera, and P lit up. She proceeded to dance, sing, and participate in a thirty-minute session. She said, “You really made me feel better today. Thank you!”

If you are interested in music therapy for your nursing home, hospice, or loved one, please click the following links to learn more. 

Music Therapy for Seniors & Assisted Living

Music Therapy for Hospice