The field of music therapy has gained momentum in recent years particularly for those with depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, brain injury and cardiovascular conditions. Evidence suggests that music can serve as an anchor to the past, helping individual’s recall memories. It has also been linked to reduced anxiety, pain, heart rate and blood pressure and increased social interaction. Whether your client has difficulty moving or speaking, or is highly independent, music can serve as a great form of mental stimulation and open up a world of conversation topics.
The next time you are caring for your client, try these tips from AARP:
- Select familiar songs. Most people remember music from their childhood and young adulthood. Ask your client if he or she has a favorite cassette/CD collection or seek input from family members. You can find pre-populated examples on the AARP website.
- Find the best method. Some clients may prefer to use personal headphones to listen to music on an iPod or other device. Others may enjoy using a stereo or computer, which allows for more social interaction between the two of you.
- Match music to actions. Play peaceful music when your client is waking up or going to sleep and play upbeat songs when transitioning from one room to another. You can even incorporate physical activity by showing one another your dance moves.
- Make your own music. Does your client have an instrument in the home? Make music together! With family approval, try creating makeshift instruments with pots and pans as drums and wooden spoons as drumsticks.
Listening to your favorite music can also be a source of pleasure and a great way to unwind after a shift. Remember, one of the activities that helps prevent burnout is making time for yourself and the things you enjoy.