Music and Caregiving

Songs are our connections to life. They connect us to our inner world; they bring us closer to others; they keep us company when we are alone. They articulate our beliefs and reaffirm our values. They arouse, they accompany and they release. And as the years pass, our songs bear witness to our lives and give voice to our experiences. They rekindle the past, reflect the present and project the future. Songs weave tales of our joys and sorrow; they express our dreams and disappointments, our fears and triumphs. They are our musical diaries, our life stories. They are the sounds of our development.  Kenneth Bruscia 1989

The healing power of music may bring soothing relief and support to both those who are requiring care and those who offer it. When a loved one or family member gets sick, caregiving becomes a priority. Sometimes, people have to take time off work or even take a leave of absence. The responsibilities become profound—it may even become a full time job for a time. Caregiving may be a chosen profession; the demands, nevertheless may be intense and exhausting. Music may have reciprocal benefit both to the patient and the caregiver

Music is a valuable resource in giving care to those who are sick. Music is a supportive resource. The associations made with music help with reminiscence and self-expression. Music provides background sounds and ambiance in a room that may be sterile or noisy. The interpersonal connection around a song can be strong and lasting. With support, there can be psychosocial benefits. Music can bring soothing relief. Music can affect perceived pain. It may provide a distraction, give the patient a sense of control and may help in relaxation. Slow placed music set at approximately 60 beats per minute stimulates Alpha state, the state of calm and can lessen heart rate and ease agitated breathing. Music can bring spiritual encouragement. A song may offer courage or peacefulness. It may bring comfort and help us to think about true things. Music may help us rise above pain or discomfort. Music can bring care to the caregiver (family, volunteer or professional). Music may provide emotional and spiritual preparation to ease transitions. Song lyrics may help put words around feelings. Music may bring relaxation for deep breathing and de-stressing.

Music may be used therapeutically with specific illnesses. Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and Dementia: Music may give meaning to the environment when other experiences are not understandable. Strokes: Rehabilitation in people who have had strokes can begin as soon as the person is medically stable. Music may restore physical functioning, socialization and emotional well-being in time. Parkinson’s: Music therapy has shown gait improvement in Parkinson’s patients according to a study by Dr. Michael Thaut.

Mood Disorders and Depression: Using music wisely and supportively can help people put words around what they may be feeling. Music may shift a person’s outlook.

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