According to ongoing research by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), when seniors participate in the arts they show improvements in health, well-being and are more able to function independently. The NIA and doctors have long advocated eating a good nutritious diet, getting enough physical exercise and getting a good night’s sleep for healthy aging. However, the ongoing research suggests that seniors who participate in group singing programs, theater training and visual arts may show enhanced improvements in feelings of well-being.
Community of Voices
The Community of Voices is the largest randomized clinical trial to examine the effects on health and well-being of of 400 seniors age 60 and over who participate in a group choir. The seniors came from 12 senior centers in San Francisco, California. The seniors were all low-income people from various ethnic backgrounds. Each community choir met once a week for 90 minute rehearsals for a total of 44 weeks and performed in several concerts. The weekly 90 minute rehearsals were led by professional choral directors from the San Francisco Community Music Center who were especially trained to lead activities that could promote health and well-being.
Also, at the weekly rehearsals researchers assessed the cognition, physical function, psychological function and whether the participants had made use of healthcare services and how much it cost them. This was done before they started the choir rehearsals, six months after they had begun the choir program and at 12 months after they had been in the choir.
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After six months of participation, the seniors had reduced feelings of loneliness and more of an interest in life. However, their cognitive, physical condition and healthcare costs did not change significantly.
Dr. Lisa Onken, Ph.D., of NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research says that the results show that participation in the arts can provide benefits to health and well-being of seniors. These programs are continuing and they hope to see how they can best set up cost-effective, community-based programs that will be good for seniors.
Music and Dancing
Dancing also has been shown to be very beneficial to seniors. See our blog post from January 17, 2019 about dancing and senior women.
Music therapy has shown amazing healing benefits for post-stroke and for people with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
There have been some amazing cases where post-stroke patients were able to learn to sing even before they could learn to speak again. There were also cases where they were able to move paralyzed limbs in response to music. Read more about this in our blog post from March 29, 2019.
Music therapy has been shown to be very beneficial in Parkinson’s patients helping them with walking and gait problems.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Music helps people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as reminiscent therapy to trigger memories from the past. It also improves mood and behavior disorders, reduces agitation, irritability, depression, anxiety and delirium in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Choose a Rehab with Music, Singing and Dancing in their Recreational Therapy
Choose a Rehab that has lots of music, singing and dancing in their recreational activities like the Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York. Read more about recreation at Van Duyn in our blog post from July 11, 2018.
Music is good for everyone and has a lot to offer for improving well-being and an interest in life for seniors. Music therapy has also done wonders in many cases of post-stroke and Parkinson’s disease.