Many have heard the Bob Marley quote, “one great thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” It turns out that the late, great Marley was truly onto something and it is becoming more and more popular in the medical community. People in the health profession have used music therapy as a means to alleviate physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual symptoms. For some patients, it allows them an outlet through which to express themselves since music often triggers emotional memories and experiences.
Particularly in the case of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, this therapy is beneficial because singing, dancing, or following along to a rhythm involve minimal cognitive function, meaning that these patients retain their ability to engage in music throughout the later stages of the disease. Active involvement with the music can also reduce stress in patients and soothe agitation, making them more comfortable and potentially more receptive to affection or actions of emotional closeness from their loved ones.
Some studies have shown that music therapy has been extremely helpful in relieving anxiety, nausea, and pain in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. According to the American Cancer Society, although music therapy cannot flat out cure cancer, it can play a significant role in reducing high blood pressure, rapid heart beat, depression, and sleeplessness, making the illness a bit more manageable for the patients and without a doubt enriching their quality of life while they receive treatment or transfer from curative to comfort medicine.
It has also been noted in trials that in hospice patients, music therapy improved comfort, relaxation, and pain control. Despite life expectancy remaining the same with its implementation, quality of life increased for patients receiving music therapy, while it declined for those who were not. Perhaps the greatest part about this form of treatment is that it really couldn’t hurt to try it and just about any patient should be eligible for it, considering that prior knowledge of music is not a prerequisite to the treatment.
Visit CatholicHealthServices.org to learn about how we implement music therapy in our hospice services, promoting a higher quality of life for our patients through an enriching treatment designed for everyone to be able to participate.