‘Exploring music listening for older adults’

Over the past few months, our George Vowell aged care home (Mt Eliza, VIC) has been taking part in a study conducted by The University of Melbourne. The study focuses on the effect music has on people living in residential aged care. Read more about the project below:

Dr Amanda Krause and Prof Jane Davidson’s project, entitled ‘Exploring music listening for older adults’ well-being’ aims to understand how music listening might help promote well-being in people living in aged-care facilities. The arts have been identified as a promising way to improve older adults’ well-being. Evidence points towards music listening as an effective, non-pharmacological tool with many social and emotional benefits, yet the specific nature of how to create and support everyday music listening opportunities for well-being benefit in residential aged-care remains under-researched.  

For the first phase of the project, Jane and Amanda interviewed a number of residents asking about their music preferences and experiences as well as the role of music in their everyday lives. The interview findings indicated that people listen to music to varying degrees, including attending the concerts at George Vowell. While some individuals have devices in their room (radios, cassette players, records, CDs, tablets), not everyone uses these devices.

Amanda and Jane are interested in how the radio can be used to create more opportunities for music listening and are currently conducting the second phase of the project. This phase involves the recent installation of a satellite radio service called Silver Memories at George Vowell. They’ve also brought Mrs Megan Goodwin, a Registered Music Therapist, on board for this phase of the project. Starting in July 2019, Meg will work with residents in small-group sessions over a ten-week period. This work is centred around listening to specific Silver Memories programming designed to encourage conversation and reminiscing. In particular, Meg will work with a core group of residents on Thursday mornings for the research project. Interviews and surveys completed at the start, middle, and end points will collect data on the participants’ listening activities, session experiences, and well-being. Meg will also invite any interested residents to join her Thursday afternoons for the radio’s Featured Musical program. Participating in the afternoon session is casual, allowing residents to join Meg for one or more of the musicals.

The findings from this project will provide an understanding of how everyday music listening activities can be developed to support people living in residential aged-care. Focused on promoting Australians’ psychosocial well-being, the project has broad implications as to how everyday music listening can be used as a widely-accessed, low-cost tool for enhancing quality of later life. Learning from the trial, Amanda, Jane, and Meg hope that the research leads to the development of evidence-based guidelines to support reproducible and sustainable programming that can be used to promote emotional regulation, community, and well-being.


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