Hospice Music Therapy

Hospice Music Therapy

Senior man wearing headphones, eyes closed, close-up

The traditional hospice team includes healthcare professionals from numerous disciplines, volunteers, and complementary therapists who provide supportive care and comfort through natural approaches. One of these approaches is using music therapy in hospice care.

By definition, music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music by a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) to meet individuals’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. In practice, music therapy in hospice has been shown to accomplish a number of goals, including the following:


Hospice Music Therapy

  • Pain management
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Expression of emotions (verbally and non-verbally)
  • Increasing feelings of meaning/purpose
  • Decreasing distress/discomfort
  • Decreasing terminal agitation/restlessness
  • Decreasing feelings of isolation
  • Increasing feelings of closeness, acceptance, and intimacy
  • Resolving family conflict/relational stress
  • Increasing self-esteem/self-acceptance
  • Increasing range of coping mechanisms
  • Increasing perceived quality of life
  • Gaining a sense of spiritual support
  • Fostering meaningful sensory engagement
  • Creating positive memories at the end of life

“I learned about my uncle through the music therapy process. I found out that he had played 7 instruments! … His spirit would always be more upbeat singing.” – Stephanie L.

Read More about the emotional benefits of music therapy >>


Support Hospice Music Therapy

Though not required or covered by Medicare, Medicaid and many private insurers, the services of Samaritan’s music therapists are made possible through generous donations to Samaritan.

Donate Now >>

Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things. Tom Petty

Application for Music Therapy in Hospice

The above-mentioned hospice care goals are accomplished in music therapy through the relationships that develop between the patient/family, the music therapist and the music. Music therapy at Samaritan Hospice weaves together each patient/family’s individual goals and objectives with their unique personal music history and preferences, designing a course of therapy which utilizes primarily live music (including guitar, piano, voice, and/or various percussion instruments) as well as receptive/listening-based interventions during music therapy sessions. Music therapy experiences may include any of the following:

  • Music-assisted relaxation
  • Song lyric analysis
  • Guided imagery
  • Instrumental improvisation and accompanying
  • Improvised singing
  • Singing songs
  • Songwriting
  • Song parody
  • Composition
  • Music listening/reminiscence
  • Creating song-based life review or music legacy CD’s
  • Planning memorial services with music
  • Song communication/dedication
  • Procedural support music therapy

Please check with your hospice team to find out if you or your loved one is eligible for music therapy. Music therapy is offered in select locations.