Music has the power to calm our minds, ease pain and discomfort, and improve the quality of our lives. These benefits are even more apparent in seniors. As we grow older, music benefits us physically, emotionally, and cognitively — and it can even help to reduce agitation, stress, anxiety, and depression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
The following article will discuss these benefits in greater detail and share some ideas for incorporating music into the lives of seniors, so keep reading!
Physical and Psychological Wellness
According to Music Education Research International (MERI), music has been shown to benefit us physically, socially, and psychologically as we grow older. In addition to improving the quality of our lives, music leads to improved psychological, social, and physical health; relief from pain and stress; reduced medication usage; and prevents certain age-related diseases. And for those who suffer from chronic pain, anxiety, and stress, musical activities like singing, playing an instrument, or listening to music can be a healthy distraction from these types of issues.
Moreover, some of the physical health benefits of music vary by musical activity. According to findings from MERI:
- Singing boosts respiratory function.
- Playing the piano reduces stress, boosts cognitive-motor skills, and prevents arthritis in the fingers.
- Playing in a band boosts aerobic capacity.
In addition to improving the physical, social, and psychological health of seniors, musical activities also help to boost cognitive function in older adults. According to a new study on the effects of playing background music while performing cognitive tasks, certain types of classical music may help to improve processing speed, episodic memory, and semantic memory performance in seniors. However, loud music or songs with lyrics may have the opposite effect on memory and processing speed performance.
Furthermore, music may also help seniors with dementia, including those with Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, singing songs or listening to music may benefit seniors behaviorally and emotionally — and caregivers may reap these benefits as well. Anderson Music Therapy lists some of the best songs for seniors, so give these a try if you’re not sure where to start.
How Seniors Can Incorporate Music Into Their Lives
If you’re a senior who’s looking to experience the physical, psychological, and cognitive benefits of music, there’s no better time to take music lessons, learn a new style of dance, or sing along to your favorite songs. Due to the pandemic, online music lessons are available to teach you everything from singing and reading music to playing different types of instruments, including the piano, bassoon, stringed instruments, and more.
If you’ll be using technology to stream songs, take music lessons, or learn about music online, you’ll need to ensure your current tablet, laptop, or PC is operating as well as it should. If your devices could use an upgrade, Black Friday is the perfect time to score deals and discounts on laptops and tablets. A quality pair of noise-canceling headphones can also help you to learn music from home, as well as a music stand, metronome, and amplifier.
Second, you’ll need to learn how to protect yourself from identity thieves, viruses, and other types of cyber threats, especially if you’re new to using the internet. The internet can be an excellent place to learn about music, but it’s important to be aware of common online threats and the things you can do to protect yourself and your tech devices.
The Bottom Line
Music has been shown to benefit seniors cognitively, psychologically, and physically, regardless of whether they’re playing an instrument, singing aloud to a song, or listening to the radio. And to experience these benefits, seniors can take online music lessons, listen to music while cleaning the house or getting ready in the morning, and enjoy other types of musical activities such as singing in a choir and dancing to their favorite songs!
Are you a caregiver to a senior loved one? Visit Caregiver Corner to find everything from senior-friendly products to tips and advice for caregivers and their senior loved ones.
Post contributed by Tanya Lee at AbilityVillage.org