4 Ways Music Benefits Seniors
Music is an important part of everyday life. We listen to songs during our workouts, in our car, and just about everywhere in between. But did you know music offers incredible benefits to your senior loved ones? Yes, music can be used to improve health, enhance moods, and even improve memory. Learn more about the benefits of music and how it can be beneficial to your mom and dad.
Psychological Benefits of Music
Seniors who listen to music have a happier outlook on life and are shown to have better social interaction. Music has shown to enhance moods, improve interest levels and increase positive emotions. Those with dementia and Alzheimer’s have been known to increase communication with others after listening to music since a song can trigger a memory from when they were younger.
Health Benefits of Music
Studies show that music promotes positive overall health. Those that listen to music often have better nights of sleep, diminished pain and improved recovery time. Music has also shown to increase mobility, coordination, and overall cognitive abilities. Finnish researchers found that patients who listened to music following a stroke experienced a faster recovery of verbal skills. Listening to music can also promote physical activity including dancing.
Studies have shown when a person listens to music that corresponds with an important time, place, event or emotion for the listener, the brain’s memory maker, also known as the medial prefrontal cortex, becomes stimulated. Music therapy for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients has proven to help stimulate this type of brain activity. Some Alzheimer's and dementia patients who have lost the ability to speak have been known to still hum along with songs.
Music can also help settle down seniors when they become stressed and agitated. It has shown to increase relaxation and self-esteem, while reducing tension and anxiety. If your loved one is agitated, play a personally meaningful song from when they were growing up. Soothing music, like doo-wop or jazz, can help with a senior who is agitated.
How to Integrate Music into Your Senior Loved One’s Life
It is easier than ever to bring music into your parent’s life. Not only has technology made once forgotten media available at the tip of our fingers, live music is more abundant than ever. Here are several music activities for seniors to try out:
- Create a personalized playlist with songs you know your parents love. With the internet, you can find any song, from any era that you may be looking for.
- Take your loved one to a live concert in your area. Many communities offer monthly concerts, especially outdoor shows during the summer months. During the fall, winter and spring, keep an eye on the schedule of your local school district. Bands, choirs and musical groups from schools often perform concerts for the public.
- Encourage your loved one to play an instrument they once played. Studies have shown hobbies, like playing music, can help increase self-esteem and is therapeutic for seniors. Playing music can also help slow down heart rate and lower blood pressure.
- Have a sing-along to a song such as “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Sing-a-longs can also help promote a sense of community and allow people to interact while singing aloud.
- Introduce your parent to YouTube. Not only will they be able to find music they may have forgotten about, but they can watch live performances from their favorite artists in a bygone era.
Enlivant's assisted living communities integrate music into residents’ lives by hosting live musical performances, dances, and other activities on a monthly basis. Find out more about engaging senior activities and amenities at Enlivant.