Issues of self-awareness and communication skills which connect us all to the world around us become increasingly important to the elderly, whose skills are declining and for whom isolation is increasing. Loss, illness, depression, and the need to restore faith and hope are readily addressed through therapy in music and art.
Music has been proven effective in stimulating memory recall which contributes to reminiscence and satisfaction with life, positive changes in mood and emotional states, a sense of control over life through successful experiences, anxiety and stress reduction, and pain and discomfort management. It promotes rhythmic and continuous physical movement and vocal fluency as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation and offers opportunities to interact socially with others. Music can reach even those seniors resistant to other treatment approaches due to the familiarity, predictability and feelings of security associated with being in music.
In the case of individuals afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, the White House Mini-Conference on Aging and Music Therapy, 1994, found that “particular elements of music have a specific effect on motor systems.” It validated the effectiveness of music to improve the gait (by an average of 25% in a three week period) of individuals afflicted with Parkinson’s disease through the rhythmic coupling of auditory and motor systems.
Article attributed to Arts for Healing-a non-profit organization changing lives through the arts.