Music can spark a number of emotions, along with offering cognitive and social benefits to people of all ages. The relationship between music and the brain is particularly unique. The benefits of listening to music are well documented in studies, showing clear advantages to an individual’s mental and emotional health. Here are a few benefits that music therapy offers to the mind, body and spirit of older adults.
Mood and Stress:
Music can be incredibly calming for seniors who are agitated as well as uplifting for those who feel depressed. In dementia patients especially, music therapy can have lasting effects on the mood and behaviors. According to Practical Neurology, “Listening to familiar music can elicit pleasurable responses such as smiling or moving/dancing even when communication is lost.” By bringing them back to that familiar place, music is able to spark feelings of euphoria and happiness for seniors of all cognitive levels.
It is not uncommon for seniors, especially those with dementia, to experience some degree of memory loss. Music not only enhances the mood of seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s, but it also improves their memory. Doctors at Mayo Clinic note that, “Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.” By being able to remember the words and sing along, seniors are able to feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment while accessing memories that those around them may have thought were lost.
Many seniors begin to clap or tap their toes and even hum or sing-along with songs they enjoy. If possible, seniors and their caregiver or loved one should consider getting up and dancing during music therapy events. This movement is extremely good for seniors because the majority of older adults often spend a lot of time in sedentary positions. When you get up and move, it also provides emotional, cognitive, physical and social benefits. These positive responses from the music and movement can be breakthroughs for seniors who may have become withdrawn and disconnected.
Listening to music in groups often results in interaction among seniors. Encouraging seniors to sing-along to music can enhance their mood and improve their relationships with others. This therapeutic technique uses multiple elements of music like rhythm or melody to help patients remember verbal contexts while enjoying their favorite songs. Sometimes, they are just happy to be with others who enjoyed the same music in their youth which provides them with a lot to talk about.
At Poet’s Walk, a Spring Hills Memory Care Community, we offer a full range of individualized services that promote social, physical, and emotional well-being. Our Director of Program Development and Training, Rachel Helfand, explains that, “We provide music therapy programs to ensure that our seniors are improving physically, mentally and emotionally while enjoying a fun activity. Music therapy is often one of our most popular and well-received therapy programs in our care continuum. Our therapeutic services help our residents recall memories, encourage movement, improve stress and mood, and enhance social interactions.” Our goal is to help seniors become as independent with the best quality of life as possible through our various programs, therapies and other Signature Touches.