Encyclopedia of Geropsychology

Living Edition
| Editors: Nancy A. Pachana

Music Therapy, Applications in Geropsychology

  • Jessica V. StrongEmail author
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-080-3_264-2



“Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship” – American Music Therapy Association.

The population of adults in the USA is aging quickly, led by the baby boomer generation who began turning 65 in 2011. Average life span strongly influences the number of older adults in the country, and it has risen by almost 30 years in the last century (Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2013). The CDC and US Department of Health estimated that the number of older adults in the USA will be 89 million by 2050, which is double the number of older adults in 2010 (Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2013). Although Americans are living longer, they are also coping with more chronic health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, neurocognitive disorder (i.e., dementia), and Parkinson’s disease. It is...


Obstructive Sleep Apnea Late Life Music Therapy Neurocognitive Disorder Reading Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. American Music Therapy Association. (2015). Definition and quotes about music therapy. AMTA, Web.Google Scholar
  2. Bernatsky, G., Bernatzky, P., Hesse, H.-P., Staffen, W., & Ladurner, G. (2004). Stimulating music increases motor coordination in patients afflicted with Morbus Parkinson. Neuroscience Letters, 361, 4–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bradt, J. (2006). The history of music therapy. In S. Brooke (Ed.), Creative arts therapies manual: A guide to the history, theoretical approaches, assessment, and work with special populations of art, play, dance, music, drama, and poetry therapies. Springfield: Charles C Thomas.Google Scholar
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). The state of aging and health in America, 2013. CDC, Web.Google Scholar
  5. Chan, M. F., Wong, Z. Y., & Thayala, N. V. (2011). The effectiveness of music listening in reducing depressive symptoms in adults: A systematic review. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 19, 332–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chang, E., Lai, H., Chen, P., Hsieh, Y., & Lee, L. (2012). The effects of music on the sleep quality of adults with chronic insomnia using evidence from polysomnographic and self-reported analysis: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 49, 921–930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cooke, M., Moyle, W., Shum, D., Harrison, S., & Murfield, J. (2010). A randomized controlled trial exploring the effect of music on quality of life and depression in older people with dementia. Journal of Health Psychology, 15, 765–776.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. de Bruin, N., Doan, J. B., Turnbull, G., Suchowersky, O., Bonfield, S., Hu, B., et al. (2010). Walking with music is a safe and viable tool for gait training in Parkinson’s disease: The effect of a 13-week feasibility study on single and dual task walking. Parkinsons Disease, 2010, p. 9. doi: 10.4061/2010/483530.Google Scholar
  9. de Niet, G. J., Tiemens, B. G., Kloos, M. W., & Hutschemaekers, G. J. (2009). Review of systematic reviews about the efficacy of non-pharmacological interventions to improve sleep quality in insomnia. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare,7, 233–242.Google Scholar
  10. Elefant, C., Lotan, M., Baker, F. A., & Skeie, G. O. (2012). Effects of music therapy on facial expression of individuals with Parkinson’s disease: A pilot study. Musicae Scientiae, 16, 392–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Erkkila, J., Punkanen, M., Fachner, J., Ala-Ruona, E., Pontio, I., Teraniemi, M., Vanhala, M., & Gold, C. (2011). Individual music therapy for depression: Randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 199, 132–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Lazic, S. E., & Ogilvie, R. D. (2007). Lack of efficacy of music to improve sleep: A polysomnographic and quantitative EEG analysis. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 63, 232–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McCaffrey, R., & Locsin, R. (2006). The effect of music on pain and acute confusion in older adults undergoing hip and knee surgery. Holistic Nursing Practice, 20, 218–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McDermott, O., Crellin, N., Ridder, H. M., & Orrell, M. (2013). Music therapy in dementia: A narrative synthesis systematic review. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 28, 781–794.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nayak, S., Wheeler, B. L., Shiflett, S. C., & Agostinelli, A. (2000). Effect of music therapy on mood and social interaction among individuals with acute traumatic brain injury and stroke. Rehabilitation Psychology, 45, 274–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Nilsson, R. (2008). The anxiety- and pain-reducing effects of music interventions: A systematic review. AORN Journal, 87, 780–807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Skingley, A., & Vella-Burrows, T. (2010). Therapeutic effects of music and singing for older people. Nursing Standard, 24, 35–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Twiss, E., Seaver, J., & McCaffery, R. (2006). The effect of music listening on older adults undergoing cardiovascular surgery. British Association of Critical Care Nurses, 11, 224–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wall, M., & Duffy, A. (2013). The effects of music therapy for older people with dementia. British Journal of Nursing, 19, 108–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wang, Y., Dong, Y., & Li, Y. (2014). Perioperative psychological and music interventions in elderly patients undergoing spinal anesthesia: Effect on anxiety, heart rate variability, and postoperative pain. Yonsei Medical Journal, 55, 1101–1105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Recommended Readings

  1. Altenmueller, E., & Schlaug, G. (2012). Music, brain, and health: Exploring biological foundation of music’s health effects. In R. MacDonald, G. Kreutz, & L. Mitchell (Eds.), Music, health and wellbeing. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Belgrave, M., Darrow, A.-A., Walworth, D., & Wlodarczyk, N. (2011). Music therapy with geriatric populations: A handbook for practicing music therapists and healthcare professionals. Silver Spring: American Music Therapy Association.Google Scholar
  3. Clair, A. A., & Memmott, J. (2008). Therapeutic uses of music with older adults. Silver Spring: American Music Therapy Association.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geriatric Mental HealthVA Boston Healthcare SystemBostonUSA