While there are specialists and experts in music care practice, music can be used by care professionals, volunteer and family caregivers to complement their own scopes of practice. No one owns music.
However, it is important to know that music can have adverse effects. For example, the wrong kind of music – not the person’s preference, or music with mixed emotional associations – could cause agitation resulting in disruptive or responsive behaviours.
Music is especially helpful in specific care applications. For example:
- At the end-of-life, music can accompany people through the final moments and offer support through bereavement and loss.
- In palliative care, music can help to manage pain and symptoms, decrease anxiety and depression, facilitate relationship completion and closure, create context for reflection and spiritual comfort, and validate complex emotions.
- In dementia care, music can stimulate neural pathways, increase socialization and engagement, improve mood, help with orientation and routine, bring happiness and pleasure, trigger memories, decrease agitation, provide a meaningful activity, reduce isolation and loneliness.
Music also complements other forms of care and therapeutic modalities i.e. background sounds in an operating room, backdrop to therapeutic touch or art therapy.