Improving Health and Well-being with Music Therapy

By Barbara Kalt, Rosener House Director

Rosener House offers an enriched adult day program for individuals with physical and cognitive challenges, including post-stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Through the years, Rosener House has added services that are needed by program participants and their family members: nursing services, physical, occupational, speech therapies, weekly caregiver support groups, and since 1994, professional music therapy services.


The Music Therapy Program has evolved through the years to be a big part of each day with a professional Board-Certified Music Therapist as part of the care team. Rosener House has long recognized the importance of using evidence-based music interventions to address, physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals by creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music.

Music therapy enhances avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves using words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as overall physical rehabilitation and aiding in facilitating people’s movement, increasing their motivation to become more engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings.

Research Highlights
•Music therapy interventions promote wellness, enhance memory, improve communication, and provide unique opportunities for interaction.
•Music therapy reduces depression, anxiety, and stress among older adults.
•Music therapy helps promote happiness and satisfaction with life.
•Music experiences are structured to enhance social and emotional skills, to assist in recall and language skills and to promote rhythmic movement.

Music therapy at Rosener House includes morning sing-alongs, playing with instruments, drum circles, songwriting, music sharing, movement and exercise, and even dancing. Rosener House is also the first adult day program to be certified in the use of “Music and Memory,” an individualized activity available for participants who are provided iPods with their own favorite music and headphones when a therapeutic need is assessed by staff, to calm if anxious, or entertain if too fatigued to attend a group class.
Some of the participants have aphasia, so they have great difficulty finding the words to speak their thoughts and feelings. When the music therapist starts singing a song they know from their young adulthood, they start singing along. For the duration of that song, they are fluently singing the right words, they relax, and they smile, tap their toes, and have a great time. After singing sometimes they burst out words like, “I LOVE that song!” with amazing clarity.

The good feelings from this experience carry them through the morning until the next music group. This is why all the staff at Rosener House will sing while they help our participants go down the hallway to lunch or to the next activity. Music MOVES!