5 Benefits of Music for Seniors

There is just something about music. Within the first few notes of a song, we can be transported back to a place and time that we haven’t thought of in years. The beat can move us, body and soul, like nothing else we experience in a day.

Music is magic for the older mind. From memories to health benefits to social connection, the positive effects of music are undeniable. Just what are those positive effects? Let’s take a beat and turn up the facts on the benefits of music for seniors.

seniors and music

5 Benefits of Music for Seniors

  1. Music inspires spontaneous memory.
  2. Total brain workout.
  3. Health benefits.
  4. Delays cognitive decline.
  5. Ignites social connection.

1. Music brings back memories of events.

Music evokes involuntary memories. We hear a song and are immediately brought to a place and time we haven’t thought of in years. And it can be so vivid! Even without trying, we can recall memories of events, people, and places from our past in great detail.

Music activates the brain, making it an effective tool for stimulating memories. The emotional connection we have with music is largely positive, creating good feelings and a flood of familiarity. So much so, that we can often effortlessly repeat every word of a song we haven’t heard in a very long time. The ability of a song to activate the brain stays with us very late into life, even when someone is experiencing cognitive decline.

Why Do We Remember More with Music?

We remember more with music because of the different types of memory involved. Implicit memory and explicit memory impact music’s effect on the brain. Both are types of long-term memory where the first (implicit) is unconscious and effortless recall, and the second (explicit) requires conscious work to remember.

For incredibly interesting information about these different types of long-term memory, check out this article from The Washington Post.

 2. Keep your brain young with music.

Your brain engages with music in a way that is unlike anything else. Music challenges the brain with structural, mathematical, and architectural relationships. We gravitate towards music that is pleasing to our brain and tickles our eardrum in just the right way. Looking for ways to keep your brain stimulated? Researchers say just change up the style of music you listen to.

You can give your brain a boost by listening to what the kids are listening to, for example. Changing up the genre throws your brain a curveball – but only for a moment! While listening to familiar music from long ago brings back warm memories, listening to a new genre makes your brain work in a new way.

Everyday Brain Boosts with Music

Increase creativity

Memory recall

Feel it in your body

The power of music will benefit your brain in ways you may not be expecting. It increases your creativity and forces your brain to learn new sounds. Listen to find the genre that works for you, challenging your brain and keeping you engaged. When music resonates deep within you, it moves you – emotionally and physically.

3. Music positively impacts the health of seniors.

From physical health to mental health, music is beneficial for seniors. Get the heart pumping with a fun and fast-paced song or relieve body tension by listening to music that encourages rhythmic breathing. Both types of music can positively impact the quality of life for a senior.

Physical Health Benefits

Heart and cardiovascular health

Muscle strength

Bone density

Balance

Flexibility

Additional physical health benefits include lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, improved breathing, and muscle relaxation. By taking the mind off stress or pain, music can help relieve muscle tension and elevate a mood. Music is a great pathway from tension and anxiety to relaxation.

seniors and music

Mental Health Benefits

Decrease stress

Reduce anxiety

Avoid or decrease depression

Depression and dementia are common among older adults. Music allows people to express themselves in a way that words alone are unable to do. Just listening to music can increase communication abilities for older adults who have trouble with verbal communication.

Music memories often go untouched by Alzheimer’s Disease. When verbal communication becomes extremely difficult, music helps those with Alzheimer’s retain joy. Though we are currently without a cure for this terrible disease, the beauty of music can help them express themselves and communicate with caregivers.

4. Stimulate our grey matter with music.

All through our lives, our brain changes due to environment and experiences, altering the connections and “brain plasticity.” The brain also loses grey matter through brain atrophy, losing valuable neurons in the process. Brain atrophy is a normal process of aging, however, music practice and active listening can promote brain plasticity and increase grey matter.

The good news? You don’t have to have any experience playing an instrument to reap all the benefits. Studies showed positive results in older people who had never practiced music before. It’s never too late to start playing an instrument and enjoying more music!

5. Music is a powerful tool for social connection.

If you ever question the power of music in bringing people together, you only need to look to the community of Parrotheads. This aging group of Jimmy Buffet fans has parlayed their love of music into a retirement lifestyle, inspiring 55+ retirement communities to keep them connected. Music plays an important role in bringing people together and enriching brain health while also improving mood, outlook, and social connections.

Throughout our lives, music fosters shared experiences among people. Whether it is attending a concert or musical with friends or connecting with strangers through the common enjoyment of a particular artist or musical group, music provides an excellent platform to bring people together. The long-term benefits of social connection through music are particularly beneficial for the elderly.

Using Music to Defeat Social Isolation

Music can bring us together at any age. From concerts in our youth to musical events at the local senior center, music is an ageless prescription for health and social connection. The benefits of music at any age are great, but especially striking in old age. No matter the cognitive or physical limitations, every person can experience music and its positive effects.

Seniors can enjoy the benefits of music through trips to the theater or simply tuning into their favorite radio station. For those who want to stay engaged but find themselves isolated at home, a private duty caregiver can connect a senior to social events featuring music and participation with their peers. Even for those in a wheelchair or walker, music can inspire dance moves that bubble up from the very core, bringing with them the memories of times gone by and creating beautiful moments in the present.

senior and music

Healthy Aging Begins with Healthy Choices

If you or your aging parents are becoming more isolated in older age, it is important to stay engaged in activities that bring joy. Music has a way of bringing people back to themselves, stirring up wonderful memories of times gone by, and producing positive health benefits at the same time. Even when verbal communication with a loved one becomes difficult, music can bring you back to common ground and help you find each other again.

Let private duty help keep you connected. Whether it’s getting you to a musical at the local theater or keeping uplifting tunes playing in the home, your private duty caregiver can bring the benefits of music into your daily routine. Learn more about the services of Private Duty Home Care in the Resources Section of our Blog.

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