Music Therapy: There’s More To It Than Just Listening to Music

 In Education

Music therapy is a research-informed therapy that uses music interventions to meet the psychosocial and physical needs of hospice patients. Board-certified music therapists work with hospice patients and their families in their homes, long-term care facilities, inpatient care centers, and hospitals.

When we think of music therapy, listening to music often comes to mind. However, the techniques used are much broader than just listening and include:

  • Making music
  • Writing songs
  • Singing
  • Dancing
  • Discussing music, musicians, and singing

Music therapy interventions are used in hospice because they assist in decreasing pain and discomfort through individualized interventions. The benefits of music therapy include:

  • Managing stress: breath rate, heart rate, and blood pressure are all affected by music, depending on its intensity and tempo.
  • Alleviating pain: a 2016 NIH database of over 90 studies reported that music helps people manage pain better than medication alone.
  • Relieving fatigue: a Shanghai University study found relaxing music helped reduce fatigue and maintain muscle endurance.
  • Expressing feelings: music brings people together and promotes trust and empathy, which encourages loved ones to share their thoughts and fears.
  • Enhancing memory: listening to music stimulates cognitive functioning, resulting in better memory recall.
  • Facilitating family communication: music strengthens intimacy, increases confidence, and reduces irritability so that loved ones are able to have meaningful conversations.
  • Expressing spiritual beliefs: music touches the heart; it affirms life and expresses hope. The intersection of spiritual beliefs and music is an affirmation of somebodiness. Family members can assert that their loved one is somebody special, and they can give voice—a beautiful voice—to their shared experiences in life.

One of the most important functions of music is to create a feeling of cohesion or social connectedness. Music brings joy to patients and families and creates exceptional end-of-life experiences and memories.

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