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How to incorporate music therapy into your assisted living community

Posted by Earl Laing | Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Music has the universal power to do an incredible amount of things. It brings people together, entertains and even supports brain development.

It has been scientifically proven that listening to music encourages developments in the brain like increasing memory, creativity and focus in people of all ages. That being said, have you considered the benefits of bringing music programs to you assisted living community? Director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at Beth Abraham Family of Health Services, Concetta Tomaino, spoke with senior living blog A Place for Mom about how the music stimulates the brain of a senior citizen.

"Why it's so positive is that we process music with almost every part of our brain. Music that has personal significance to someone or is connected with historical events is a strong stimulus to engage responses in people, even in late stages of dementia. Even if they're not necessarily able to tell you what the song is, they are able to be moved and feel the associations," said Tomaino.

Check out these benefits of incorporating music into your assisted living community and discover how quickly it can improve the quality of life of your residents:

Therapy

Therapists and scientists alike have found several positive results of introducing music therapy into seniors' routines. Senior Care Centers reported that music reduces muscle tension and relaxes the body therefore decreasing stress. This involvement also increases awareness and concentration as it stimulates the right areas of your brain.

Tomaino went on to tell the blog that past extensive research had found a strong relationship between the brain's auditory cortex and limbic system, which is where emotions and long-term memories are processed. The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function and other researchers found that listening and playing music was helping those with neurological damage remember more, move better and regain speech.

Alzheimer's benefits

To get even more specific, Alzheimer's Foundation of America has done extensive research on the benefits of music in those with memory-related illnesses, even in those in late stages of their disease. According to their research, music can positively alter moods and interactions, manage stress-induced agitation, promote cognitive functions and help motor movements. Turns out this is possible because rhythmic responses to music don't require much mental processing at all as they're controlled by the motor center of the brain which responds to auditory rhythmic cues.

As you are probably aware, listening to particular songs has the power to bring back memories and emotions. While everyone associates different emotions with different tunes, therapists have found that you can test these triggers and still get varied emotional and physical responses from those even with serious memory loss. The AFA also found that music selections ranging from ages 18 to 25 evoke the strongest responses and offer the most opportunity for engagement. However, new music has the potential for new responses and is worth the try.

Well-being

Music stimulates overall well-being of residents and is an excellent assisted living solution to resident dissatisfaction. Different tunes peak interest levels for seniors allowing them to engage in singing and dancing or playing the instruments themselves. Your assisted living community can invest in several types of entertainment systems so music can be enjoyed everywhere throughout the building. A vinyl record player could be a nice touch to the community, or, every room can have their personal MP3 player. A Place for Mom explained that music can be timed for the type of day as well. Consider peppy music for activities throughout the day, and calming music for going to bed or to help reduce anxiety among seniors.