As we age, we’re more at risk of developing one or more chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes. In fact, according to the National Institute on Aging, 85 percent of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, while 60 percent have at least two. Older adults are also more likely to experience changes in their physical and mental capabilities, and often seek medical help to improve their conditions. In addition to seeking the advice of a healthcare provider and making necessary lifestyle changes, other therapies may benefit seniors. Music and music therapy have proven to help seniors restore and maintain their physical and mental health.
Music for Everyday Life
Even if you aren’t experiencing illness or disease, there are many benefits music can have just by listening or playing an instrument.
Many music therapists help their clients navigate the recent loss of a loved one by using music to cope with grief. Many older adults find it helpful to capture the personality of their loved one through favorite songs that carry a specific memory. Music therapists encourage clients to listen to these songs during the grieving process to remember a loved one and reflect on the time spent together.
Improving cognitive function
Listening to music daily can also improve how fast we process information. Music teaches us to recognize our emotions, and when we practice this often, processing emotions and information we consume becomes similar to muscle memory.
It’s not uncommon for older adults to feel lonely or isolated, especially after the loss of their spouse or friend. As we age, socializing with others and maintaining healthy relationships is vital to our well-being. Many older adults find music a helpful way to connect with others through dancing, reminiscing over popular music from their younger years, or listening to a symphony or opera.
Music’s Effect on Alzheimer’s Patients
Music benefits everyone and can be especially helpful for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. With the help of music, many Alzheimer’s patients see a boost in brain activity, which can result in the following benefits:
Evokes emotions and memories
According to Neurologist Oliver Sacks, music can evoke emotion even in severe cases of Alzheimer’s. When we experience emotions,memories are often quick to follow. When we pair everyday activities with music, Alzheimer’s patients are able to recall the memory associated with that activity, which can ultimately improve cognitive function.
Encourages emotional and physical closeness
As Alzheimer’s and dementia progress, many older adults lose their ability to express and share emotions with others. However, through music and rhythm, many ambulatory patients can express themselves through dancing other expressions of affection like hugging and smiling.
Do you find yourself tapping your toes or singing along when you listen to music? This reaction is common in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Music has a way of capturing and keeping their attention for a period of time, especially during live performances.
Practicing Music Therapy at Home
You don’t have to be an expert to reap the benefits of music. The Alzheimer’s Association compiled a list of ways to practice music therapy in the comfort of your home. If you are a caregiver or are interested in music yourself, here are few tips for playing with music at home:
Harnessing the Power of Music
Playing music with someone can create a special bond, especially between caregivers and their loved ones. For a more interactive approach, consider one of these activities to do together.
Working with Music at Maplewood Senior Living
Maplewood Senior Living communities offer music therapy and other music-related activities that can be beneficial for residents at all levels of care. To learn more about how these programs can serve your loved one, please contact us or schedule a tour.
Sign up to receive the latest posts straight to your inbox.