If there is one place where music therapy is commonly found, it is in long-term care facilities. Music therapy is very useful to older adults simply because it can be used for so many different goals. Goal areas might include:
- social interaction
- maintaining physical abilities
- cognitive stimulation and maintenance
- memory recall
- quality of life
- creating a legacy to leave for loved ones (and to begin the process towards life and relationship resolution)
Music and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease)
Many people have seen clips from the movie, Alive Inside which have been viral. Here is one:
Music therapists who have worked in long-term care have seen these effects personally and they are certainly rewarding. It is not surprising that iPod programs have popped up all over the place.
However, it is important to remember that, in addition to the amazing potential, there are also risks. Consider for instance that, while memory seems to be very linked to music, not all memory is positive. Traumatic memories can be just as linked to music as happy ones, and someone who does not know the individual well may not be able to predict which music will trigger a bad memory. In many cases, individuals are left to listen alone on headphones which means that, should something go wrong, it is likely that no one will be there to help.
- The music therapists at Baycrest Centre in Toronto have created a fantastic resource to help avoid the dangers and pitfalls involved in listening and iPod programs
Here is a video about Alzheimer’s disease and music: