The Benefits Of Music As We Age
Have you ever flipped on the radio only to hear a song that immediately took you back to a certain place or time in your life? Music has a profound ability to impact all of us at so many levels and in so many ways—and there’s no need to be a trained musician to fully appreciate, or even enjoy it.
Music can evoke cherished memories, lift us up when we feel down, invigorate us when we feel sluggish, or even inspire us when things feel bleak. With all this power being wielded by a few simple notes on a scale, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that music—in all its various forms—can be immensely therapeutic in helping people of all ages to better process feelings and boost their overall sense of well-being.
But there’s more to this mind-altering melody than just a feel-good tune. Music therapy is also being shown to specifically help older adults enhance memory, improve communication, and promote physical and mental rehabilitation, as well as deal with age-related concerns, such as stress, depression, and chronic pain. Here’s a quick sample of a few of the ways music therapy can help seniors take their mental health from flat to sharp one bar at a time.
Music therapy can be particularly beneficial in helping older adults improve memory, focus, and other cognitive abilities. Not only has music been shown to stimulate positive emotional and physical reactions (such as when you hear a favorite song that puts a smile on your face or makes you want to get up and move), but it can also cause you to recall specific memories from your past. This has proven to be especially helpful in eliciting responses in seniors with dementia.
As a memory care tool, music therapy has been shown to slow the decline of speech skills in older adults whose ability to effectively communicate has been impaired or is beginning to diminish. These individuals are instead stimulated to convey their feelings by humming or moving their hands. Some are even encouraged to communicate through singing, in many cases making it easier to express their feelings and emotions.
Stress may well be a part of everyday life, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t days where it can feel a bit disproportionate or unexplainably heavy. Fortunately, music has an uncanny ability to soothe stress and reduce anxiety by helping the mind moderate levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Seniors who suffer from dementia or other cognitive issues often find music to be a great way to reduce agitation and aggravation.
Music and dancing are nearly inseparable. In most cases, it’s hard to even conceive one without the other. As such, music provides an extremely valuable—and fun—form of physical exercise. Not only do the infectious rhythms encourage movement, thereby promoting coordination, but the time spent dancing can help improve endurance, as well, making it possible to remain active as we age. And the best part, there’s no limit to how much you can or can’t do. Whether you’re tapping your foot, clapping your hands, swaying your hips, or going full Baby and Johnny on the dance floor, any level of mobility is healthy.
Whether at the local dance hall, a karaoke bar, or a more formal social event, music has long been used to bring people together. As a result, some therapy programs put it to use to promote social interaction. When played in a group setting, music can inspire people to sing along, reminisce about the memories the songs evoke or even encourage a little impromptu dancing. This is especially valuable as we age since it is not uncommon for older adults to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation.
The bottom—or baseline is this: keeping your brain active is a critical component to maintaining the overall health and harmony of your personal well-being—especially as we get older. Aside from the cognitive benefits listed above, music (and music therapy) is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal to brighten moods, days, and spirits. And the positive outlook it welcomes is more than enough reason to turn up the volume.
At Summit Vista, we realize your expectations for retirement are ever-changing. You want to maximize every moment, discover new possibilities and, most importantly, find the peace of mind to achieve a happy, healthy future that’s free of concern. We want that, too. For more information about the benefits of moving into a Life Plan Community, speak with your retirement counselor, or call 801-758-3138 today.