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What is Music Therapy and How Can it Help Seniors? What You Need to Know

June 20, 2022

music therapy for seniors in retirement

It is likely that at some point in your life you have experienced the profound ability of music to bring cheer, evoke cherished memories, and provide comfort in times of struggle. In fact, music can be so beneficial in helping people to process their emotions that many people are now using music therapy to reduce stress and boost their overall sense of wellbeing. 

Related Blog: 5 Ways Music Can Improve Your Mood

What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy uses clinical and evidence-based music interventions to help individuals achieve specific goals with the guidance of a professional music therapist. 

Music therapy has even been shown to help people enhance their memory, improve their communication, and promote physical and mental rehabilitation. For this reason, music therapy can be particularly beneficial for seniors, as it can help to deal with age-related topics such as stress, depression, and chronic pain. 

How Music Therapy Helps

Here is a look at just a few of the unique ways in which music therapy can help you. 

1. Improves Cognitive Skills

Music therapy can be particularly beneficial in helping seniors to improve their memory and cognitive skills. Music has been shown to not only elicit a positive reaction when you hear music that reminds you of your past, but it can also evoke special memories, and elicit responses in seniors with dementia

2. Music Helps You Relieve Stress

While stress is a part of everyday life for us all, some seniors experience a disproportionate amount of stress in their lives.

Fortunately, music is an excellent reliever of stress, anxiety, and depression as it helps to better manage stress by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Patients who suffer from dementia often find music to be very soothing, helping to reduce agitation and aggravation. In fact, Devan Elliott, Moorings Park's Music Therapist, told Jeff Lytle with Life In Naples Magazine that she helps lead memory care groups by replacing negative lyrics from popular songs with new, positive ones.

3. Exercise With Music

With music often comes dancing, which can be an extremely valuable aspect of music therapy. 

Music and rhythms can inspire you to move, which can help promote coordination, while also helping to improve endurance, making it easier to continue staying active as you age. Even for those with limited mobility, music can inspire toe-tapping, clapping, and other movements that can help maintain some level of mobility.  

Elliott - who is a classically-trained flutist who can play the guitar, ukulele, autoharp, and mandolin -  expresses that "Moorings Park values music therapy as 'a spoke on the wheel of wellness.' Her office is next to physical workout and rehabilitation areas. She can help a stroke victim learn to walk again with the help of rhythm – step by step."

4. Increases Social Activity

Another valuable aspect of music therapy is the fact that it can help to promote social interaction. As we age, it is not uncommon to experience feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression; and this is particularly common amongst seniors who may spend a great deal of time home alone. 

Music has been used for generations to bring people together. In some music therapy programs, music is used to promote social interaction. When played in a group setting, music can foster interaction as group members sing along and talk about memories from their youth. 

This can also help build vital connections that will help people stay socially active, increase happiness and improve overall wellbeing.


Musical therapy is just one of the many hands-on programs offered at Moorings Park Communities’ Assisted Living and Memory Care centers. For more information about any of our three campuses, please contact us today.

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