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Familiar Music Listening with Binaural Beats for Older People with Depressive Symptoms in Retirement Homes

Author(s): Huei-Chuan Sung, Wen-Li Lee, Hao-Ming Li, Chia-Ying Lin, Yu-Zu Wu, Jing-Jy Wang, Tzai-Li Li



Depression affect not only older people’ self-care ability and quality of life, but also increase the burden of their families and caregivers as well as health care resources. With consideration of the adverse effects of antidepressant medications and high medical costs of treating depression, it is important to use non-pharmacological interventions for managing depressive symptoms of older people. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of familiar music with alpha binaural beats on blood pressure, heart rate variability, and depression level of older people with depressive symptoms and to assess its feasibility for older people.


This study used a one-group pre-test and post-test design. Thirty-five older people residing in a retirement home participated in the study. Each participant listened to 30-minute familiar music with alpha binaural beats via a headphone individually while lying on the chair or bed in the afternoon in a private room. The music compact disk were Taiwanese old songs from the 1950-1970s which was familiar to most of the Taiwanese older people.


The study results indicated that the participants after listening to 30-minute familiar music with embedded binaural beats of alpha frequencies at 10 Hz had shown immediate effects by a significant reduction on their heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and LF norm of heart rate variability (HRV), and a significant increase on HF norm of HRV indicating that the participants were in a relaxing state after listening to the music. Depression level was significantly decreased after listening to 30-minute familiar music with alpha binaural beats in the afternoon daily for five days.


Familiar music listening with alpha binaural beats can be a noninvasive and suitable intervention to promote relaxation and alleviate negative emotion in older people with depressive symptoms in long-term care settings.

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