Do you like music? Most everyone enjoys some type of music and it can be especially helpful for seniors. After all it is an important part of everyday life for most people. We listen to music in the car, while exercising, cleaning the house, working, and just about everywhere else. But did you know that music can benefit your senior loved one? Music can be used to improve health, put you in a better mood, and improve memory.
People in general that listen to music tend to have a more confident and happier outlook on life. They also have better social and communication skills. Music enhances a senior’s mood, improves their interest in things, and gives them a more positive attitude. In seniors with dementia and Alzheimers, music therapy has been shown to improve their memory and communication skills. Listening to music can trigger a memory that has been lost and can calm anger in these patients as well. Finding music that your parents used to listen to and enjoy can trigger all kinds of great memories and emotions.
What are some health benefits of listening to music?
With older adults music can improve overall health. It can help you get a better night’s sleep, it can diminish pain levels, and can even improve recovery time from an injury. Music improves mobility, afterall, who can listen to music and not at least tap your foot or sway to the tunes a little? Coordination and cognitive functions are improved by listening to music. Studies have shown that stroke victims have faster recovery times when they listen to music.
The discipline of music therapy has a long rich history. It began after World War I, when musicians would come to veterans’ hospitals to perform. The medical professionals noticed that the patients had positive and emotional responses to the music. This became so recognized by the medical profession that in 1944 the first musical therapy degree program was established.
Neurologist Oliver Sacks says “Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.” Current research also suggests that the areas in which the brain processes music seem to be less damaged by Alzheimer’s or Dementia compared to other parts of the brain. Accessing these less damaged areas may help support other areas of the brain that are not functioning as well.
How can you make music a part of your seniors daily routine?
Today it is easier than ever to bring music into your senior loved one’s daily life. Technology has brought music to our fingertips, so try some of the following suggestions to bring more music into your senior’s life.
- Try some wake-up music – Do you have a song to wake up to? Seniors more than anyone need a song to help them get up and get going. Play some inspiring music while they drink their morning coffee, going through their morning routine, or choosing what to wear for the day. You need to choose a song that has some rhythm, a tune that will give them a little pep in their step. Something they can even dance to.
- Make a Playlist – With tons of music Apps available today there are virtually millions of hours of music that you can download for free. You can search by genres, artists, or bands, so there are plenty of options to choose from. There are no rules here so be creative and even adventurous.
- Just Dance – Dance is a great exercise for seniors, even if it is just swaying a little back and forth while holding your caregiver or even a chair. This will get their blood pumping.
- Can you play an instrument? If not it’s never too late to learn – Do you have a favorite instrument that you always wish you could play? You can still learn to read music and play that instrument. You can sign up for private lessons or even learn online.
- Do you have a favorite song? – Have you ever had that song stuck in your head and could not remember the words but have the tune? Search the song and write down the lyrics. Sing along as songs play in the background, this will give inspiration and joy.
Whether you are listening to positive music while making breakfast or soothing music before bedtime allows yourself to have more music in your life. You may just discover that you like different genres of music than you used to. Have a happy and positive musical day.
Written by Mike Clark
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