Online Music Therapy for Older Adults

Award Date: 2018

Project Lead(s): Chrissy Pearson, Music Therapist

Project Title: Development of an Online Face-to-Face Music Therapy Service Delivery Model for Older Adults Aging at Home and Their Caregivers

What is the issue?

Many people who choose to age at home are unable to access helpful services. Music therapy delivered by a certified music therapist has improved the quality of life of people with a variety of health conditions.

What did we do?

We developed the first online music therapy program for older adults at home using video conferencing technology. We created the e-Music Therapy Kit, which contained a collection of percussion instruments, an instruction manual, and troubleshooting tips for the Zoom video-conferencing technology. At the beginning of our feasibility study, we visited nine older adults at home to explain how to use video conferencing technology, did a music therapy assessment, and developed individualized plans. Older adults participated in weekly sessions for up to 12 weeks.

What did we find?

Delivering music therapy through video conferencing was feasible. Most participants completed the sessions and said they enjoyed the music therapists and being able to select preferred music. Some participants said the home setting was inconvenient and that they would like a bigger selection of music. We found no change in feelings of loneliness or well-being. The time lag was a problem during some of the unison activities. We need to address a few technical issues, refine the contents of the kit, and explore other ways to make program improvements.