The purpose of this work is to show some aspects of music therapy application in cancer care and to present the integration of music therapy program into a continuous supportive cancer care for inpatients. A cancer diagnosis is one of the most feared and serious life events that causes stress in individuals and families. Cancer disrupts social, physical and emotional well-being and results in a range of emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, guilt, embarrassment and shame. Music therapy is a part of a complementary medicine program in supportive cancer care which accompanies medical treatment. There are many benefits of music therapy for cancer patients—interactive music therapy techniques (instrumental improvisation, singing) as well as receptive music therapy techniques (listening to recorded or live music, music and imaginary) can be used to improve mood, decrease stress, pain, anxiety level and enhance relaxation. Music therapy is an effective form of supporting cancer care for patients during the treatment process. It may be also basic for planning effective programs of rehabilitation to promote wellness, improve physical and emotional well-being and the quality of life.
Transcendental meditation reduces stress and improves the emotional and mental well-being of breast cancer patients, new study findings suggest.
The two-year trial included 130 patients at Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago, aged 55 and older, randomly assigned to either a transcendental meditation group or to a usual care control group. Quality of life was assessed every six months.
“Emotional and psychosocial stress contribute to the onset and progression of breast cancer and cancer mortality,” study author Sanford Nidich, senior researcher at the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, said in a news release from Saint Joseph Hospital.
“The transcendental meditation technique reduces stress and improves emotional well-being and mental health in older breast cancer patients. The women in the study found their meditation practice easy to do at home and reported significant benefits in their overall quality of life,” Nidich added.
“It is wonderful that physicians now have a range of interventions to use, including transcendental meditation, to benefit their patients with cancer. I believe this approach should be appreciated and utilized more widely,” study co-author Dr. Rhoda Pomerantz, chief of gerontology at Saint Joseph Hospital, said in the release.
The study, published in a recent issue of the journal Integrative Cancer Therapies, received funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Research has shown the therapeutic benefits of nature and observing natural scenes evokes positive feelings and reduces stress and negative emotions.
Alzheimers and Dementia
Nature experiences provide mental health benefits for the elderly as well, including Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimers is a type of dementia that causes memory impairment, intellectual decline, temporal and spatial disorientation, impaired ability to communicate and make logical decisions, and decreased tolerance to high and moderate levels of stimulation. Certain environments can provide prosthetic support for dementia patients to compensate for their reduced cognitive capabilities. For example, spaces that have dead-ends or are crowded can increase frustration and anxiety in Alzheimer’s-diagnosed residents. Supportive outdoor spaces include these design features: looped pathways; tree groves or sites to act as landmarks for orientation; non-toxic plants; even, well-lit paths with handrails; seating areas with the suggestion of privacy; and use of low-key fragrances and colors to soothe, rather than negatively stimulate, the patient.
Studies have found that nature experiences can be of particular benefit to dementia patients. Exposure to gardens can improve quality of life and function of dementia patients by reducing negative behaviors up to 19% (see Table 2). Those patients who have access to gardens that are designed to positively stimulate the senses and promote positive memories and emotions are less likely to express negative reactions and fits of anger. After gardening activities, dementia and stroke patients exhibited improved mobility and dexterity, increased confidence, and improved social skills. Better sleep patterns, improved hormone balance, and decreased agitation and aggressive behavior have all been observed in dementia patients in association with contact with nature and the outdoors.