Older Adults_Bars-Geriatric Pain


MUSIC therapy: Listening to (or playing) music as a form of enjoyable distraction.

Your family member may enjoy:


  • Listening to their favorite type of music
  • Singing hymns or other favorite songs
  • Listening to instrumental or harp music
  • Playing piano, guitar, or other instruments
  • Dancing
  • Watching children playing instruments or singing

How Does it Work?

  • Research indicates that listening to your preferred style of music can:
    1. Reduce pain
    2. Lower blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate

What Can you Do?

  • Discuss with your family member their music preferences and experiences with music
  • Advocate for your family member to have access to the items or opportunities necessary for using their preferred music as a nondrug pain management
  • Assist your family member to gather the needed equipment (i.e. device to listen to music/head phones) and a variety of music options they enjoy
  • Set up the musical equipment as needed for your family member prior to the session 
  • Ask your family member prior to beginning each session what their pain/tension level is on a 0-10 pain scale and do this again at the end of the music session. 
  • Document pain ratings so you can share with your family member’s healthcare team.

What Else Should You Do:

  • Consider using a Pain Diary to note important information useful to the provider on a regular basis.


Adapted from: 1. Fouladbakhsh, J.M., et al., Nondrug therapies for pain management among rural older adults. Pain Manag Nurs, 2011. 12(2): p. 70-81. 2. The Nursing Home Pain Management Algorithm Clinical Trial, R01 NR009100,  7/1/05 – 4/30/10; Mary Ersek (PI) Used with permission of Mary Ersek and HPNA (2009). 


Revised 5/2019

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