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May 09, 2024

8 Benefits of Music and Art Therapy for Seniors

The famous quote by Pablo Picasso, "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls," and the ever-resounding words of Friedrich Nietzsche, "Without music, life would be a mistake," properly express the power of music and art.


Music and art therapy have shown positive effects on seniors, particularly in terms of mental health and cognitive function. A study [1] found that both art and music therapy had a statistically significant impact on reducing depression in seniors.


How can music and art therapy improve your quality of life? This article will help you see why you should incorporate them into your routine.


What is Music and Art Therapy?

Music and art therapy are two popular forms of evidence-based therapy that tap into the creative expression of seniors to promote a good quality of life. While they're both different art forms, music, and art therapy provide the same benefits for seniors.


Music therapy is a professional practice that uses the power of music to promote healing and well-being. It involves a trained music therapist who uses music-based interventions to address various physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs.


The therapist may engage you in activities like listening to music, playing instruments, singing, or songwriting.


Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses the creative process of making visual art to improve psychological and emotional well-being. A trained art therapist guides and supports you in expressing yourself through various art mediums, like painting, drawing, sculpture, or collage.


These forms of alternative therapies are beneficial to seniors, providing many health benefits, reducing stress levels, and can help slow down cognitive decline.


What are the Benefits of Art and Music Therapy for Seniors?

The benefits of music therapy encompass physical and emotional health and well-being, mental health and cognitive function, and social interaction.


1. Boost Your Emotional Well-being

Music and art therapy can be a wonderful way for you to express your emotions and find inner peace. Engaging in creative activities or just singing along to your favorite song can help reduce stress and promote relaxation and happiness.


2. Keep Your Mind Sharp

Participating in music and art therapy gives your memory and thinking skills a workout. These activities stimulate your brain and help maintain cognitive abilities, keeping your mind active and alert.


A recent review including 8 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) found that music therapy positively affects cognitive function in seniors with Alzheimer's disease. It can also help improve dementia symptoms.


3. Improving Motor Skills

Music or art therapy can help seniors improve their motor skills. Activities like playing musical instruments, painting, sculpting, or engaging in other hands-on creative endeavors require coordination and fine motor control.

These activities can help strengthen your hand-eye coordination, skill, and overall motor skills.


4. Connect with Other Seniors

Music and art therapy often involve group settings, providing you with opportunities to meet new people and form social connections. This can help combat feelings of loneliness and provide a sense of belonging and friendship.


5. Boost Confidence and Self-Expression

Seniors can express themselves, boost their self-esteem, and become confident in their creative skills through music and art therapy. Creating art or making music allows you to express yourself freely and discover new aspects of your identity.


6. Find Joy and Fulfillment

Music and art activities can bring immense joy and fulfillment, enriching the lives of seniors and promoting a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Whether it's creating a beautiful painting or playing a favorite song on an instrument, these experiences can add meaning and happiness to your life.


7. Improve Physical Well-being

You can help your senior loved one become more physically active by introducing them to music and art therapy techniques involving physical movements, like playing an instrument or dancing. These activities can enhance your coordination, motor skills, and overall physical health, promoting an active lifestyle.


8. Heal Emotionally

Music and art therapy can provide a safe space to process and heal from emotional challenges. Creative activities can be a cathartic experience, allowing you to cope with grief, trauma, or difficult emotions you may be experiencing.


Creative arts therapy provides numerous benefits that cut across all areas of your life. It is a powerful tool that helps you become sharper, increase positive feelings, express feelings, alleviate cognitive conditions, and energize you for physical activities. 


Types of Music and Art Therapies

There are different types of music and art therapies and they include:


Music Therapy:

  • Active Music Therapy: Involves actively participating in music-making activities, such as playing instruments, singing, or moving to music, to achieve therapeutic goals.
  • Receptive Music Therapy: Focuses on experiencing and responding to music through listening, which can promote relaxation, emotional expression, and cognitive stimulation.

Art Therapy:

  • Visual Art Therapy: Engages individuals in creating visual art using various mediums like painting, drawing, or sculpture to explore emotions, enhance self-expression, and promote personal growth.
  • Expressive Art Therapy: Encourages using multiple art forms like painting, writing, music, and movement, to facilitate emotional expression, communication, and self-discovery.

How can Seniors Enjoy the Benefits of Music and Art Therapy?

You can experience the calm that art and music therapy can provide by actively "doing" the art or just enjoying what others have created. Other ways to explore alternative therapies are to:

  • Participate in group sessions that allow you to engage with others who share similar interests. You can socialize, make new friends, and feel a sense of belonging.
  • Explore individual sessions tailored to your needs. This one-on-one approach provides personalized attention, focusing on your goals, preferences, and therapeutic outcomes.
  • Attend workshops or classes focused on music or art therapy for seniors in your community
  • Incorporate music and art into your daily life by listening to your favorite music, playing a musical instrument, drawing or painting, or exploring other creative outlets.
  • Participate in intergenerational programs, involving music and art to give yourself a chance to interact with younger generations.
  • Discover digital platforms that offer virtual music and art therapy resources. Online courses, virtual art galleries, music streaming platforms, and interactive apps can provide access to therapeutic content.

Remember, like any other form of therapy, you need the guidance of a trained therapist to enjoy the numerous benefits of music and art therapy.


Final Words

Art and music therapy is one kind of evidence-based, holistic therapy that is particularly beneficial for seniors. It can help enhance physical and mental health, emotional well-being, social connections, and motor skills.


Embrace the power of music and art, and embark on a journey of creativity and healing that can enrich your life.

Healthy aging is hard on your own. Kendal at Home can help you age well and enjoy your retirement.

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