Throughout life, sound affects our physical and emotional well-being. It affects vital functions that we think are beyond our control. These include heart rate, blood pressure, respirations and release of the body’s natural painkilling chemicals.
Even when people are no longer conscious or speaking, we can console and comfort them with music. Research has shown that music is the first external outside sensation that registers with a developing fetus and the ability to hear and benefit from music is the last of the senses that registers with a dying patient.
The use of music enhances our lives as a means of teaching, celebrating and expressing ourselves and has been in place for thousands of years. During World War II, music was used to calm shell-shocked soldiers. Since then, the introduction of music in a variety of rehabilitation and palliative care settings has steadily increased.
The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as "...an established healthcare profession that uses music to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals of all ages."
Uses for Music Therapy in Hospice & Palliative Care
- Non-pharmacological support with symptom management
- Promote emotional well-being throughout the disease process
- Provide spiritual support
- Reduce stress for caregivers
- Provide a framework for legacy projects
- Specialized support for children in the family system
Examples of Techniques Used
- Live music listening of songs meaningful to the person
- Participation in singing and/or instrument playing
- Music-assisted relaxation techniques
- Creative songwriting and self-expression
- Procedural support and maintaining comfort during medical interventions
- Legacy projects, recordings, and slideshows