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This latest article was written by our dear friend Hazel Bridges of www.AgingWellness.org, just for you, our beloved readers!
No matter what year you were born, music has always been a part of life. From the time we are sung lullabies as babies, music becomes a part of who we are and how we identify ourselves. As we grow older, music defines moments in our lives and has the magical ability to take us back when we hear an old song again. Music is powerful and can be a helpful tool for those in the golden years of life. Here are four benefits that music can bring into the life of a senior.
Music Boosts Cognitive Functions
It’s no secret that as we age, our mental faculties begin to decline. For those who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, this decline can be severe. But even seniors in the later stages of Alzheimer’s have been touched by the power of music, as music can reach out and bring them back to the days of their youth. Music has been scientifically proven to stimulate brain activity in people of all ages.
Having music on in the background can improve focus and memory in seniors as they go about daily activities, as well as promote sociability when interacting with others. Another great way to improve memory function is by playing memory games centered around music. “Name That Tune” is a game where participants are played a song and have to guess the name of the song and the artist. This is just one way to help seniors improve their cognitive function as well as bring back great memories.
Listening to Music Can Enhance Mood
Aside from increasing concentration, music can also affect how we feel. Sadly, there are many seniors who struggle with depression and anxiety on a daily basis. Music can help with that. According to neuroscientists, music can have a calming effect and reduce levels of stress and anxiety. Making a playlist of relaxing songs can help ease anxiety. On the other end of the spectrum, music that is upbeat can motivate seniors to get up and move around.
Music Promotes Physical Health
As long as there has been music, there has been dancing; the two go together like peanut butter and jelly. When the right song comes on, it’s hard to resist getting out of your chair and cutting a rug. It’s for this reason that music can be used as a great motivator for getting seniors up and active. It’s important that seniors stay as active as possible for their physical health. Dancing along to music can be a great form of exercise, building strength, flexibility, hand-eye coordination, and locomotive functionality.
Turn Back Time by Learning to Play an Instrument
While listening to music is great for increasing the physical and mental health of seniors, it pales in comparison to what playing an instrument can do. Playing an instrument takes all the added benefits of listening to music, while additionally engaging seniors’ creative ability and problem-solving skills. While recognizing a tune is great for triggering old memories, learning how to play a new song and committing that to memory can activate multiple areas of the brain at once. Seniors will also be able to work on their dexterity as they learn to hit keys on a piano or strum a melody on guitar.
If your senior loved one is hearing impaired, you may want to consider soundproofing the room where they will be playing their instrument, since having difficulty hearing may prompt them to play loudly. Basic soundproofing can be done by a professional for as little as $500, or you can try your hand at DIY soundproofing to save money.
These are just a few ideas on how to integrate the powerful benefits of music into the everyday lives of seniors. Music will always be an integral part of life for generations to come. While we may be separated by our age, we will always be able to bridge the gap with our shared appreciation for music.