When Treatment Needs to be More Than Pharmacy, Music Therapy is There

By Seasons | July 29, 2021

mt picAs recent events at the Tokyo Summer Olympics tell us, wellbeing and health aren’t just physical. As we enter our 18th month of the pandemic, Americans are realizing more and more that mental health is intrinsic to our physical state. This is true even at the end of life under hospice.

Society is recognizing that healthcare is about more than therapies, prescriptions, and procedures. As a healthcare professional, music therapy can and should be considered an integral part of the care plans your patients need, while helping you with your goals of quality care and avoiding hospitalizations. Music therapy in hospice can provide tangible benefits to the patient and their family, including:

  • Pain & Symptom Management and Relaxation: As a patient nears the end of life, they may experience symptoms including pain, agitation, or anxiety. Music therapy can be utilized as a complementary mechanism in addition to pharmacological interventions. Live, patient-preferred music played by a board-certified music therapist is implemented to match a patient’s mood and slowly reduce the patient's perception of symptoms.2

  • Reminiscence: Music can assist individuals in recalling and reminiscing about significant life events. Studies also show that music can be an effective recall tool for individuals with dementia. Music therapists also support patients engaging in life review and creating meaningful life narratives at the end of life through song selection.3 

  • Bereavement: Music therapy can provide closure and support to families and caregivers after a death through songwriting and other musical spaces for emotional expression within music.4

  • Quality of Life: As disease progression continues, patients may see a decline in ability or stamina to do many of the things that they once enjoyed. Music therapy can be an accessible form of enjoyment and quality of life for patients with serious illness for those with limited mobility or energy.5

Earn 1 Free Hour of CE by Watching  “Music Therapy in Hospice & Palliative Care”

Music Therapy Helps Your Facility Fully Support Patients and Residents

Music therapists can provide support in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and other settings by:

  • Assisting in the reduction of sundowning behaviors among patients diagnosed with dementia.6

  • Supporting staff through musical interventions that decrease stress levels in the workplace.7

  • Increasing patient satisfaction in healthcare facilities.8

Common clinical applications of Music Therapy:

  • Songwriting with patients at the end of life to assist with emotional expression.
  • Helping a patient and family put together a CD of important songs throughout a patient’s life to allow the patient to identify significant and meaningful moments.
  • Providing an instrument-playing session for a patient with a diagnosis of dementia in the afternoon to decrease sundowning behaviors.
  • Utilizing live music to decrease a patient’s anxiety at the end of life.
  • Providing music at a memorial service to support families and staff after a death.
  • Implementing music and relaxation sessions in the workplace during staff breaks to help manage stress.

Discover Namaste Care as an Enhancer of Quality of Life

As the shift to value-based care continues, it will be critical for healthcare professionals to embrace therapies that have been proven to raise the quality of care. Music therapy for your hospice patients helps to reduce need on more traditional interventions while increasing quality of life.



1: What is Music Therapy?

2: Effect of Live Music via the Iso-Principle on Pain Management in Palliative Care as Measured by Self-Report Using a Graphic Rating Scale (GRS) and Pulse Rate

3: Musical Life Review in Hospice

4: Music Therapy in Grief and Mourning

5: The Effects of Music Therapy on the Quality and Length of Life of People Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer

6: Familiar group singing: Addressing mood and social behavior of residents with dementia displaying sundowning

7: Effects of music therapy on occupational stress and burn-out risk of operating room staff

8: The Effects of Medical Music Therapy on Patient Satisfaction: As Measured by the Press Ganey Inpatient Survey

Providing the Best Care Begins with Acknowledging the Background of Our Patients Beyond Hospitals and Primary Care: How Risk-Bearing Entities Can Think About Post-Acute

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