Music is powerful. For thousands of years, music has brought people together. Today, we understand how significant music can be to our quality of life. This is especially true of seniors, who can benefit cognitively, emotionally, and physically from listening to music.Below are some of the many benefits music can offer older adults.
Our brain reacts to music. Music has the capability of bringing forth forgotten memories. More importantly, it can help strengthen fragile short-term memory for seniors. This is a powerful gift for seniors struggling with Alzheimer's disease. Music brings the mind back to life.
Music Can Improve General Health for Seniors
Music can act as medicine. Seniors have discovered many
overall health benefits when listening to music. Music decreases stress, which
can reduce the need for addictive anxiety or depression medication. Stroke
victims have increased their verbal ability while listening to music.
Psychologist Daniel Levitin has found that music can strengthen people's immune
system. This is especially important for seniors, many of whom are struggling
with an aging and weakened
immune system. A study a Massachusetts General Hospital has shown that heart patients listening to half an hour of music showed less stress, lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure than heart patients who had no healing music.
Music Increases Happiness
Studies have proven that music helps the body produce hormones that can elevate a person's mood and create mental positivity. Watch an elderly person and see a smile on that face as he or she is listening to a favorite old tune. So many songs are associated with life's most important moments - proms, birthdays, weddings, etc. These memories can bring long-forgotten joy to any senior.
Seniors Who Learn a New Instrument
Senior can be hesitant about learning a new instrument, using "can't teach an old dog new tricks," as an excuse. No one expects a senior to emerge as the new Amadeus. However, if seniors decide to learn an instrument, their cognitive skills are being greatly challenged. Playing an instrument involves a number of senses, our eyes, ears, and our fingers. Seniors can also improve their motor skills when playing an instrument. It takes considerable coordination to play the piano or the guitar. The quality of the music isn't important, as long as someone is playing. Simply tapping at piano keys and plucking on a guitar provides a cognitive workout. It strengthens the mental muscles in the same way physical exercise enhances physical muscles. It automatically brings the player into a heightened state of awareness. Playing an instrument is an excellent opportunity for socialization. Many seniors suffer from isolation and loneliness. Armed with an instrument, seniors can meet new people, perhaps get together and play a few tunes. Even if no one else in the group plays an instrument, they can sing along.
Music is a wonderful conversation starter for lonely
seniors. They can connect to old favorites and argue about favorite songs and
singers of their youth. Music can bring seniors together at a time they feel the
Learning any instrument is a challenge, especially for seniors. Doing so will help them understand how much they are still capable of doing. It's a tremendous self-esteem boost. Once they see that their age doesn't limit them, seniors will find all manners of new learning opportunities, such as taking classes online. Such is the big power of a little bit of music.
Music and Pain
As we age, the body can weaken and experience greater
chronic discomfort in the form of joint pain or arthritis. Our body transmits a
message to the brain that indicates, "Hey, this hurts."
The same brain that can feel bodily pain can increase those parts of the brain that make the pain less noticeable. Music helps release the chemical dopamine. According to Robert Zatorre of McGill University, dopamine is a "feel-good" stimulus, comparable to food and sex. It is believed that music can help alleviate bodily pain mostly because it takes the senior's mind and awareness off the aches and allows him or her to focus on something else.
Most of us learn to love music at an early age. Few of us remember the sheer joy of a good melody.
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