The Power of Music in Caregiving

The Power of Music in Caregiving

Music has a way of reaching people like nothing else. It can inspire you, bring tears to your eyes, or have you jumping around the room with joy. It can make you think about a particular time in your life with fondness or regret.

Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s are finding success by incorporating music into their daily routine.

Music can be enjoyed in many ways. The senior in your care may enjoy singing, playing, or simply listening to music. Other aspects of music may be used as intervention techniques such as songwriting, rhythmic based activities, improvisation, or imagery.

You may have stumbled across the power of music in your caregiving journey by accident, but there really are some amazing benefits of incorporating music into your caregiving.

Who Benefits?

From children to seniors music benefits people of all walks of life and medical conditions.

Music can be used effectively to help seniors, people with developmental and physical disabilities, autism, learning disabilities, dementia, brain injuries, substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, communication disorders, geriatric care, chronic conditions, and even people at end-of-life. There really aren’t many limits on who can receive the positive benefits from music.

Music Uses

There are a number of reasons to use music as a caregiver.

Music can:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Decrease stress
  • Be used as a sleep aid
  • Act as a distraction (especially during a medical procedure or test)
  • Enable a person to manage pain better
  • Provide a boost to immune system
  • Increase cognitive function
  • Boost positive mood

Music and Alzheimer’s

Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s are finding success by incorporating music into their daily routine. Listening to music, often a favourite song from an elderly person’s younger years, can be therapeutic for those with Alzheimer’s.

A familiar tune has the ability to help a senior with Alzheimer’s relax, encourages cognitive activity, and can even bring up feelings of nostalgia of a happy time in their lives. It’s often recommended to select favourite music from an elderly person’s childhood, teenage years, or early adulthood since that music is often positively associated with a highly developmental period of life.

Music for Caregivers

For caregivers, enjoying a favourite song or even playing the radio in the background can have many benefits, including reducing stress. An uplifting playlist can help brighten your day or give you an energy boost. It can even reach you on an emotional level and speak to how you’re feeling about something in your life. It’s a connection that makes you know that you’re not alone.

Seeing the person in your care enjoy music can also be uplifting for caregivers. It’s difficult to see the person in your care in pain or unhappy, so finding something that brings joy is welcome.

Therapeutic Music vs Music Therapy

As simple as it is to just put on some enjoyable music for the person in your care, there is also a more scientific, and clinically-based approach referred to as music therapy. You may hear the terms therapeutic music and music therapy used interchangeably, but it’s important to know there is a difference between the two.

Therapeutic music: Performed by a music practitioner, often at the bedside or home of the person in need of care. It’s a more passive practice in that the person receiving therapeutic music is not required to actively participate.

Music Therapy: Must be administered by an accredited music therapist. It is described as the skillful use of music and musical elements to promote, restore, and maintain good physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental health. It’s by employing the structural, creative, non-verbal, and emotional qualities of music that recipients are encouraged to have greater self-awareness, self-expression, communication, learning, and personal development. Increased comfort with contact and interaction are also areas that music therapy aims to help encourage in the person receiving the music therapy.


If you’re trying out music for the first time, take a few precautions to avoid a negative reaction from the person in your care.

  • Think about what type of music the person in your care would enjoy or find disruptive.
  • Adjust the volume so it doesn’t startle or irritate the person in your care or those nearby.
  • Consider the delivery of the music. For example, would listening through earphones be uncomfortable.
  • Be mindful of just putting the radio on, as some people will find interruptions from commercials or commentary upsetting. You may consider internet radio options as a substitute.

You’ll find that most people enjoy listening to music. The key is to try to get to know the person in your care and what their likes and dislikes are. Give it a try and let us know in the comments below how it went.




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