The Power of Music for All Ages
Guest Post by Karen Weeks, elderwellness.net
There’s nothing like a lively rhythm to get toes tapping or a lush melody that evokes memories of a magical summer.
Music has no age restrictions. From the tiniest tot bopping to the beat to an older woman swaying in time, everyone benefits from listening to and creating music. Multiple studies have found that music:
● Provides emotional release
● Relieves boredom
● Increases self-esteem
● Calms the nerves and reduces anxiousness
● Encourages positive, happy thoughts
● Shifts negative thinking
● Motivates movement
Experts at Johns Hopkins agree that music is medicine for the mind, noting, “Music is structural, mathematical, and architectural. It’s based on relationships between one note and the next. You may not be aware of it, but your brain has to do a lot of computing to make sense of it.”
Jessica Lee Studio offers music lessons in Naperville for voice, piano, viola, and guitar that focuses on the individual needs and abilities of each student. To learn more, call 331-330-SING or send a message through this contact form.
Music’s healing harmony
Many experts also agree that music is an effective medicine, especially for seniors and their caregivers, positively affecting minds, bodies, and overall health. One study concluded that music managed pain and depression in older people diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Another study discovered music therapy’s positive effects on older spinal surgery patients’ anxiety and pain levels.
Music also benefits the verbal working memory and enhances cognitive performance in healthy older adults. This universal language is especially effective for those whose language is snatched away by dementia and Alzheimer’s. Today’s Geriatric Medicine says that music therapy for older individuals has proven quite effective in helping communication for those whose language centers are affected by memory diseases.
The power of music
Harness the power of music and improve your and your loved one’s communication, memory, socialization, and quality of life. Play music daily through a music therapy program specifically designed to help a loved one struggling with dementia or recovering from illness or an operation. You can even create your own playlist.
Select music that’s positive, motivating, enjoyable, and familiar. Spin tunes when you or your loved one is:
● Preparing for the upcoming day
● Cooking a meal or neatening up around the house
● Entertaining friends and family
● Relaxing and unwinding after a long day
● Visiting long-ago memories
● Feeling a little blue and needing a pick-me-up
If your loved one does have memory issues, choose tunes that harken back to their youth or 20s or 30s. Why? Memory and music are intertwined! Music that reminds listeners of a specific time, place, or emotion stimulates the brain’s medial prefrontal cortex (memory center). Even some Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who’ve completely lost the ability to speak will hum along with songs from their youth.
Make your own music. Do you or your loved one play an instrument? Dust off the guitar. Tune the piano, sit down, and tickle the ivories. Gerontologists know that hobbies, like playing music, increase self-esteem and are good therapy for seniors. A bonus is that playing music slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure, too.
Introduce your loved one to YouTube. The site is a rich archive of music from all eras. It’s easy and fun to travel back in time to watch a live performance of Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, or Count Basie.
Music throughout the house
Today’s 21st-century sound systems aren’t like the crackly, static-sounding speakers of yesteryear. The variety of speakers on the market appeal to a variety of needs, price points, and preferences. While you can still spend hundreds—even thousands—of dollars on a sound system, choosing a less expensive option doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice sound. Here’s some more advice on which speakers may be right for you:
● If you or your senior are technologically savvy, you can opt for wireless speakers that connect to an Amazon or iTunes account, like Alexa or Google Home.
● If you want music wafting through your entire home rather than having one speaker blasting, you can add speakers to multiple rooms.
● If you’re really handy, you can incorporate a wireless or hybrid speaker system. Read more about how to design and build an easy-to-use music system here.
● If you’re using smart speakers, make sure you and your devices are protected from cyber threats.
Music provides a wealth of psychological, health, memory, and stress-reduction benefits for seniors. As musician Macklemore said, “Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls heartstrings. It acts as medicine.”
Photo Credit: Sandie Clarke @honeypoppet, Unsplash