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Jammin’ Grannies: Music Therapy Used To Help Nursing Home Patients

Music Therapy Helps Nursing Home ResidentsEveryone has his or her own favorite song – a song that reminds them of a happier time or place, something that can put a smile on their face. Now the Maplewood Nursing Home in Bloomer is taking that knowledge and running with it, providing music therapy to its nursing home patients.

The residents at the nursing home receive their own personal playlist after the staff discusses their musical tastes. For some that might be country music, polkas, or waltzes, for others there are specific songs that may remind them of years past.

Despite the fact that these programs are traditionally targeted towards patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, many other benefits are becoming apparent for patients who have no cognitive issues. Studies have shown that music may trigger a memory in anyone. Pleasant memories may be able to distract residents while they have to undergo things that they are otherwise uncomfortable with, measuring blood pressure or drawing blood for example. When playing the song as a distraction, the residents are not acutely aware of what is being done at that moment.

How does music therapy make a difference?

Studies have shown that music therapy is a valid and efficacious treatment for people who have communicative, cognitive, affective, and psychosocial disorders. Both clinical experiences and research results attest to the viability of music therapy. Interestingly enough, it has proven to be successful in people that are resistive to other treatment approaches.

Music provides a form of sensory stimulation that causes an involuntary response because of the feelings of security, predictability, and familiarity associated with it. For most people with mental health concerns, musical interaction is used as a means of expression and communication. The underlying goal of this type of therapy is to help people address issues or develop positive relationships that they may not be able to do using words alone.

Studies show that music therapy significantly increased patients’ level of interest in external events, reduced their social isolation, and increased their ability to converse with others. It is relatively inexpensive and has no side effects.

How can this be beneficial?

There are several benefits behind music therapy. Depending on the individual needs of the person, a number of benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Reduction of tension and promotion of relaxation
  • Higher physical activity improves recovery time
  • Reduced pain
  • Increased mobility and coordination
  • Better outlook on life and increased self-esteem
  • Improvement of memory and recall
  • Quality social interaction
  • Enhanced engagement levels
  • Higher awareness and concentration

Increasing the use of the program

The Maplewood Nursing Home has used the programs for a little over a year. Just last week the Wisconsin Department of Health Services released a statement that confirmed that more than 100 different nursing homes throughout the state are now certified to use this program as well. Ultimately, this is a cost-effective way of improving the lives of these patients. Considering how many times I have mentioned budget cuts negatively affecting the care of nursing home patients before, it is nice to see that steps are taken to ensure that these often-neglected residents have a better quality of life.


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