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Kaylee Godfrey
Mrs. DeBock
English 4 Honors
12 November 2015
Effects of Music Therapy on Elderly
Music therapy is a therapeutic practice that is becoming more popular in nursing homes.
The practice has proven to be beneficial to moods and mental health in people of all ages. As
people age, mental health often becomes a critical problem. Elderly residing in nursing homes
are extremely prone to developing symptoms such as depression, loneliness, anxiety, restlessness
and agitation (Im and Lee). Music therapy has proven to help people who suffer from these
symptoms improve their quality of life. Music therapy helps increase the mood of the elderly
while decreasing negative emotions such as depression, anxiety or agitation.
Life in the nursing home can become monotonous and tedious. Often nursing homes have
a gloomy tone to them. Music therapy can help bring enjoyment, social engagement, bonding,
physical engagement and empowerment to elderly residing in nursing homes (Lum). Music can
bring a new, exciting tone into the facility. The practice can also bring positive emotions to
elderly that they otherwise may not be able to experience while living in a nursing home. Music
therapy is also known to aid in sensory simulation and can encourage elderly people to engage
and share life experiences they remember because of the music (Lum). Music therapy brings
socialization and engagement in a nursing home where otherwise residents may keep to
themselves. Residents can branch out in ways and to people in ways they otherwise may not be
able to. Music and music therapy can lead elders residing in nursing homes to open doors that

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they otherwise would not. Music therapy can also help remind patients of life beyond the nursing
home (Lin, Chu, et al). Living full time in nursing homes can cause residents to feel cut off from
the outside, normal world they used to know and love. When elders listen to music they listened
to before they moved into the nursing home, it can remind them of good times they had before
and how life did not always revolve around the nursing home. Music can bring positive emotions
to elderly. Music therapy promotes wellbeing and health, helps release repressed emotions and
impact mood (Eells). By allowing people to release repressed emotions, music therapy can help
improve a persons mood. Music and music therapy is notably beneficial to almost everyone in
the nursing home. The therapeutic practice can help increase the mood of elderly if they suffer
from a mental illness or if they are just having a bad day. By improving the mood of elders,
music therapy can help improve their quality of life as well.
Music therapy has proven to be beneficial to decreasing symptoms of depression in
people of all ages. Depression in elders is becoming more and more prevalent. According to Mi
Lim Im and Jeong In Lee, 15% to 25% of the elderly population have serious depression that
mars normal daily activities. The mental illness is common in elderly because of changes that
come with age such as physical weakness, disabilities, illness, loneliness and coping with death
of spouses or being cared for. Living in nursing homes can cause elderly people to become
lonely and feel unable which can also cause a decline in mental health, often leading them to
develop depression. Many elders will avoid getting treatment for depressive disorders because
medication for the ailment are often taboo, especially among older generations. Music therapy is
appealing to elders because it is often believed to be more in line with their values and beliefs
than drugs, radiation and surgery (Mohammadi, Shahabi and Panah). Music therapy is an
alternative to medication that can be used to relieve symptoms of mental disorders such as

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depression. . Music therapy has proved to be beneficial in nursing home settings even since
1998, when a study of elders in residential care attended sing-a-long session which proved to
reduce the amount of depression they were experiencing (Eells). The overlooked practice of
music therapy benefited the elders, reduced their depression and helped increase their quality of
life. In another study, elders with diagnoses of mental illness including depression took place in a
music therapy group. The therapy included singing, movement and instrument playing. There
was a significant decrease of depression in the elders who participated in the program
(Mohammadi, Shahabi and Panah). By reducing the amount of depression an elder may
experience, music therapy can help bring positive mood changes and can increase their quality of
Music therapy has also proved to be extremely beneficial for anxiety in elders. Studies
are proving anxiety often increases with age and anxiety is becoming more of a common
characteristic in elderly people (Mohammadi, Shahabi and Panah). Elders can experience anxiety
for various reasons such as being placed into a new environment, being surrounded by new
people and having new caretakers they must trust. Anxiety in elders can bring life-disrupting
symptoms such as muscle tension, nausea, headaches, irritability, shortness of breath, difficulty
concentrating, difficulty relaxing or difficulty sleeping. Anxiety is also known to increase the risk
of physical disability, memory impairment, social isolation and a limited quality of life in elders.
Music therapy is one of the few known remedies that are successful in easing anxiety and
reducing the symptoms anxiety can bring to elders. Music can help sooth anxiety and distract a
patient (Eells). By decreasing the amount of anxiety experienced by elders with music therapy,
there can also be a decrease in future health problems and an increase in the quality of life.

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Music therapy is also extremely beneficial to elders suffering from dementia. Dementia is
on the rise; scientists predict that over one million people will be suffering from some form of
dementia by the year 2025. Dementia takes place in many forms and can be crippling. Those
with dementia are exceptionally prone to developing anxiety and suffering from social issues.
Dementia also causes memory problems, personality changes and agitation. Intervention with
music therapy can help reduce anxiety and agitation in those diagnosed with forms of dementia
(Eells). As discussed, music therapy is extremely effective in reducing the amount of anxiety a
person experiences. The therapeutic practice is also effective in reducing anxiety induced by
forms of dementia. Debbie Boehnke developed Parkinsons disease, a form of dementia, which
crippled her to where she needed to live in an assisted living facility. When she moved into the
facility, she suffered from an extreme amount of anxiety due to the disease and change of
surroundings. Boehnke claimed that when she started listening to music, it calmed her down
(Program Monitors Musics Effects on Nursing Homes Residents). Even though Parkinsons
disease greatly decreased Boehnkes quality of life, music helped relieve some symptoms of
anxiety she was suffering from. Parkinsons disease took a lot of important factors of Debbies
life away and brought about new negative symptoms such as anxiety, but with music therapy, she
fought back. People with dementia often also experience uncontrollable aggression, even
towards people they care for and love. Those with dementia can benefit from music therapy
because it has proven to decrease the amount of physically and verbally aggressive behavior in
those diagnosed with forms of dementia by helping release repressed emotions (Lin, Chu, et al)
Decreasing the amount of aggressive behavior can help elders with dementia keep healthy
relationships with the people they love. Dementia patients suffer from a number of symptoms
because of their diagnoses that music therapy can help alleviate. Elders with dementia especially

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are extremely prone to developing depression. As discussed earlier, music therapy is effective in
relieving symptoms of depression, even in people diagnosed with dementia. Music therapy can
help relieve negative symptoms such as anxiety, depression and agitation in people suffering
from crippling forms of dementia. By relieving symptoms, music therapy can help increase the
patients quality of life.
Music therapy helps increase the mood of elderly while decreasing negative symptoms
such as anxiety, depression or agitation. By relieving negative symptoms elderly experience,
music therapy can increase the elders quality of life. Music therapy can also bring a positive
tone to the nursing home while encouraging interaction and engagement. The overlooked
practice of music therapy has beneficial, life-changing impacts in many lives of elderly people
residing in nursing homes today.

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Works Cited
Eells, Karen. "The Use of Music and Singing to Help Manage Anxiety in Older Adults." Mental
Health Practice 17.5 (2014): 10. Advanced Placement Source. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Im, Mi Lim, and Jeong In Lee. "Effects of Art and Music Therapy on Depression and Cognitive
Function of the Elderly." Technology & Health Care 22.3 (2014): 453. Advanced
Placement Source. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.
Lin, YuChu, HsinYang, Chyn-YngChen, Chiung-HuaChen, Shyi-GenChang, Hsiu-JuHsieh,
Chia-JungChou, Kuei-Ru. "Effectiveness of Group Music Intervention against Agitated
Behavior in Elderly Persons with Dementia." International Journal of Geriatric
Psychiatry 26.7 (2011): 670-678. Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection. Web.
19 Oct. 2015.
Lum, Chee-Hoo. "Reflective Dialogues in Community Music Engagement: An Exploratory
Experience in a Singapore Nursing Home and Day-Care Centre for Senior Citizens."
International Journal of Community Music 4.2 (2011): 185-197. ERIC. Web. 19 Oct.
Mohammadi, Ali Zadeh, Tanaze Shahabi, and Fereshteh Moradi Panah. "An Evaluation of the
Effect of Group Music Therapy on Stress, Anxiety and Depression Levels in Nursing
Home Residents." Canadian Journal of Music Therapy 17.1 (2011): 55-68. Academic
Search Complete. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

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"Program Monitors Music's Effect on Nursing Home Residents." Victoria Advocate [Victoria,
TX] 13 Aug. 2015. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.