The Importance of Music for Older Adults
Music provides psychological benefits. This goes beyond lifting the mood, although research indicates that older people who listen to music tend to have better social interaction and a happier outlook on life. Music encourages people to express themselves and increases self-esteem, giving people a sense of well-being and making them more sociable. Music can trigger emotions and evoke memories, and it’s even been shown to help seniors with Alzheimer’s disease be more communicative with others.
Music provides health benefits for seniors. Health is of primary concern to most seniors, and music is known to promote overall health. It encourages exercise, providing motivation for participating in activities like dancing, walking, running, and stretching, which can build coordination and increase mobility. Further, music can reduce pain and improve recovery time from illness or injury. Researchers in Finland even discovered that patients who had suffered a stroke recovered their verbal skills more quickly if they listened to music. There’s also evidence that listening to music for just a few minutes each day can decrease cellular biomarkers of aging in the blood. Music reduces blood pressure, promotes relaxation and enhances mood, which can mean a higher quality of sleep, as well.
Listening to music benefits the memory. We’ve long known that music boosts memory, which is why school children learn songs to teach them everything from multiplication tables to parts of speech to the preamble to the Constitution. Recent research has now taught us that music therapy activities for seniors can stimulate the medial prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for memory. This has proven helpful to people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, assisting them with memory recall and helping them to communicate. Playing an instrument can keep the brain healthy, but just listening to music can greatly improve the way they think, learn, and remember.
Music can also lead to stress reduction in seniors. When older people become stressed or agitated, music has been shown to help them settle down. As mentioned above, music can increase relaxation and self-esteem, but it’s worth noting that it can also reduce tension and anxiety. Listening to a personally meaningful song from earlier life can be very comforting, as can soothing music like doo-wop or jazz.
Finding Opportunities to Enjoy and Share Music
How can you help the older adults in your life to reap more of the benefits of music? With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to bring music into people’s lives. Using the internet, you can easily create a playlist of songs that you know your older loved one will enjoy. It’s fairly simple to find just about any song, from any era, with a simple internet search. You might also take your loved one to a live concert. Take advantage of opportunities in your community, like monthly concerts, outdoor shows during the summer, and performances by bands, choirs, and musical groups from schools. Showing an older person videos on YouTube can be fun too, pulling up live performances from their favorite artists of years gone by. If they become proficient at YouTube on their own, they’ll be able to find a wealth of music, some of which you may never have heard of before! By helping your older friend or relative explore music online, you may actually learn some new things about musical groups you’d never have discovered on your own.
Making Music an Interactive Activity
Enjoying music needn’t be a passive activity for older people, though. You might want to encourage your loved one to learn to play an instrument, since playing music offers higher levels of benefits than simply listening to it. Studies show that playing music can be therapeutic for older adults, increasing self-esteem, slowing down heart rate, and lowering blood pressure. Not sure your friend or relative is able to play an instrument? Encourage singing! Everyone can sing, and a rousing sing-along of old familiar songs can help people interact and build a feeling of community.
Music Therapy Made Simple and Fun
Music therapy is beneficial for older adults, but it doesn’t have to be official therapy with a trained therapist to help. You can introduce all sorts of therapeutic musical activities into your loved one’s routine, including playing music around the house, taking dance lessons for exercise, or playing musical games. A silly game of musical chairs or hot potato with the grandchildren can be the perfect way to interact, have fun, and use music to promote well-being and a feeling of togetherness. You’ll be helping with cognitive function and overall wellness across generations while also building memories they’ll all treasure for the rest of their lives. Music doesn’t have to be serious to be beneficial, and having fun with loved ones has benefits all on its own.
Enriching the Lives of Seniors and Their Families
We hope these facts about music and seniors have been helpful! Whenever you need useful information on senior care, BrightStar Care welcomes the opportunity to be a resource. We know that facing the challenges of aging can be difficult, so we work hard to deliver the right care for your loved one and to be a partner you can turn to for support. Because we believe that caring is more than just a job, our nurses, therapists, CNAs, and caregivers offer the most professional compassionate care available. In the comforting, familiar surroundings of home, we offer a full range of care services to meet your loved one’s needs and help you when you need it most. Contact us or call 866-618-7827 to learn more about in-home senior care and let us know what we can do for you.