Efficiency of Music Therapy as a Non-pharmacological Treatment for the Elderly

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Abstract

Aging and old age cause diverse pathologies in people, including anxiety, depression, and dementia. The treatment of their symptoms requires innovative approaches, capable of reducing the high cost of treatments and the side effects of traditional pharmacological interventions. Music therapy, together with other musical interventions, has gained popularity as a non-pharmacological treatment in elderly people with dementia or depressive symptoms. Our aim is to analyze the scientific literature on the use of music therapy with elderly people through a bibliometric and content analysis of the scientific publications within the last five years. To this end, a retrospective ex post facto design has been used, taking into account the Scopus and Web of Science databases. The results of the publications suggest that music therapy programs with gerontology patients improve social skills and cognitive abilities in the short term, causing an undeniable improvement in patients who present with depressive symptoms. In addition, there are improvements in relationships among peers, reduced conflicts, and a better environment of peaceful coexistence thanks to the development of social skills strategies and an increase in empathy. In recent years, studies on the use of music therapy in gerontology have increased, although more attention is needed to integrate it with other healthcare interventions and to improve the design procedure in order to improve the efficiency of the intervention programs.