The Cognitive and Physical Benefits of Music for Seniors
Special thanks to our friend Karen Weeks of ElderWellness.net, who wrote this exclusive article for our Van Duyn family and readers!
You know that happy feeling when your favorite song comes on the radio? It’s not a coincidence. Music is a powerful force that can change your mood, relax your body and even reduce feelings of pain. The power of music is so potent that therapists use it to help people with their mental, emotional and behavioral problems.
Just about anyone can use music to help with their problems. However, seniors in particular can really reap the benefits. For instance, music therapy is often used to help with memory loss associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But that’s not all — read on for the many ways the sound of music helps seniors live their best lives.
Music Encourages Socialization
Loneliness is a huge problem in the senior community. It’s such a problem, the United Kingdom appointed a Minister of Loneliness to work for the wellbeing of disabled Brits suffering from the condition. Music can help combat loneliness by fostering socialization. Whether it’s gathering together for a dance or simply sitting around listening to songs and singing along, music helps bring seniors together and lifts their spirits.
Music Makes People Feel Better
According to a 2011 study by researchers at McGill University in Canada, listening to music makes people feel better. The study used eight participants and exposed them to music over the course of three separate sessions. After the sessions, participants filled out a questionnaire rating how much pleasure they felt listening to the tunes. The results proved that music causes the brain to release more of the feel-good chemical dopamine into the body. Dopamine helps seniors by revving up their metabolism, improving the quality of their sleep, enhancing cognitive reasoning and jogging their memory.
Music Helps Reduce Stress
As people age, it becomes more and more difficult to manage stress. It puts a greater burden on the body and has a more powerful impact on a senior’s mental health. Music — especially soothing classical — can be incredibly relaxing. It’s not just the rhythm and the melodies, either. Actively listening to a song is a way to practice mindfulness. It helps slow the mind down and initiated the brain’s relaxation responses.
It doesn’t even have to be classical music. In fact, the best course of action is listening to music that establishes familiarity — music you enjoy. If a senior you love has trouble hearing their favorite music, you can help fix that problem by getting new speakers for their with better sound quality for their home theater system so they can easily listen to music in every room of their house.
Music Helps with Dexterity in the Body and Mind
Playing music is a great way to help improve dexterity both physically and mentally. Dancing isn’t just good for socialization. It’s a safe and effective way for seniors to get some gentle exercise into their schedule. Playing an instrument also helps improve dexterity in the hands and can even relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. Music increases the brain’s power and inspires people to be more creative. Even just clapping along with the rhythm of a song is a great way to improve coordination. All of these things are great for seniors as they age and their brains and bodies deteriorate.
Music has the power to change a person’s emotions and improve our lives overall. While just about anyone can benefit from the power of music, it can be especially useful for seniors who are dealing with difficulties associated with aging. It encourages socialization, which can help prevent loneliness. Listening to music releases dopamine into the body which makes people feel better overall. Music helps reduce stress. Finally, it improves dexterity in both the body and mind. Overall, music therapy is an effective tool people can use to improve the quality of life for people living in their golden years.
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