By Lydia Chan
Image via Unsplash <https://unsplash.com/photos/Hlo8ucqYL14>*
Music can set a mood, liven up a get-together, and lift your spirits when you’re down. For seniors, the benefits of music go well beyond these. Music can have a positive impact on
the physical, cognitive, and mental health of older adults. According to the
playing or listening to music: - Reduces stress, anxiety, anger, and other
difficult emotions.- Improves cognitive abilities.- Fosters social
connections.- Reduces age-related hearing problems.- Enhances memory in
seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.- Improves brain
function following a stroke or other neurological impairment. It’s clear that music is powerful, but how can seniors make the most of it? While casual music listening is enjoyable, it’s not the only way to incorporate music into your daily life. Here are five ways seniors can bring the
healing power of music into their lives:
1. Take Music Lessons. It’s never too late to learn a musical instrument. Even with no prior experience, adults between the ages of 60 and 85 start showing improvements in verbal fluency and mental processing after just a few months of musical training
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/more-older-adults-learn-its-never-too-late-to-pick-up-a-musical-instrument/2016/11/10/628857ec-a570-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html?utm_term=.1df8eb8a45b6>. And while it may take more brain power to learn an instrument at 70 than at 17, that just means your cognitive skills are getting that much more of a workout. However, older adults are more prone to issues like carpal tunnel, so it’s important to work with an instructor to learn proper form.
2. Play Music that Evokes Memories. Music is deeply intertwined with our memories.
From the tunes of your childhood to the songs you danced to at your
wedding, music can transport your mind and emotions to another time.
According to the BBC
using music to evoke positive memories can help people with depression and
bring forth lost memories in dementia patients. When your spirit needs a
lift, try turning on songs from your youth. Consider getting a whole home
stereo system so you can easily listen to music in any room of your home.
You can find reviews on the best home theater systems at Family Living Today
3. Find Motivation in Music. Integrating music into daily routines breaks up the monotony of everyday life and keeps you motivated for the tasks ahead. By matching the mood and tempo of your musical choice to the task at hand, you can improve concentration and make
tedious chores fly by. Listen to something upbeat to start your day, play
music that’s steady and instrumental when you need to get work done, and
turn to slow-paced, soothing tunes when you’re winding down at night.
4. Join a Musical Social Group. Making or enjoying music together is a wonderful
way to connect with community members and forge lasting friendships.
Seniors can attend senior dance socials, take dancing lessons, attend
community jam sessions, or see local musical performances. Activities like
these get seniors out of the house and involved in the community, thereby
reducing the threat of social isolation
<https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2017/11/29/the-risks-of-social-isolation-for-older-adults/> in old age.
5. Find a Music Therapist. Whether you’re in the early stages of dementia, regaining speech after a stroke, struggling to cope with chronic pain, or grieving the loss of a loved one, music therapy
may be able to help. Led by a trained music therapist, music therapy uses
active and receptive musical techniques to improve a patient’s physical and
mental well-being. You can find a music therapist in your area at the
American Music Therapy Association’s website
<https://www.musictherapy.org/about/find/>. Everyone enjoys music, but few
appreciate just how powerful of a tool it can be. Music can be used to help
seniors cope with age-related health changes, create a sense of community,
or simply add joy to everyday life. And when music from any era can be
found online, it’s a tool that every hearing person can use.
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Summer Jackson, the author of this Age-Friendly Blog is an advocate for aging, and she insists that we all can live an unprecedented quality of life as we age. She believes that accomplishing this requires educating people of all ages, and involving people, organizations, and community leaders in a shared process. Read on. You will find her posts to be insightful, fun, and inspiring for people of all ages...
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