How Music Improves Life For Seniors
According to John Hopkins, music can work like medicine for the mind. There are countless health benefits of music. Including but not limited to:
- Less pain from chronic illnesses
- More motivation
- Stress relief
- Better memory
It might seem shocking to you that something as commonplace and simple as listening to music can have so many benefits for your health and quality of life. So we’ll discuss here how our community, as well as seniors at large, have benefited from music in their daily lives.
How Music Affects the Mind
Music has proven to have many beneficial effects on a person’s mental health. Neuroscientists have discovered that music can, by stimulating dopamine doses, amplify positive emotions located in the reward centers of the brain. When this occurs, a feeling of joy is typically the result.
But the benefits don’t stop there. Music is a known stress reliever. Listening to music can help to keep your blood pressure and heart rate low, as well as decrease cortisol levels. This level of stress management is essential, particularly for seniors.
Another benefit of music for seniors is that it can decrease the sensation of pain. In a 2013 study, 60 people diagnosed with fibromyalgia (a disease that causes great amounts of pain) were randomly selected to listen to music 1 time per day for 4 weeks. The people who listened to music reported experiencing less pain and fewer symptoms of depression.
In a second study, patients that underwent spinal surgery were told to listen to any kind of music the evening before surgery, up until the 2nd day after. The group that listened to music experienced much less pain.
So, both stress and pain can be greatly mitigated for seniors, just with the power of music. Music, therefore, can serve as an incredible treatment for chronic pain. One big reason for that is music, unlike many medications, doesn’t have complex and potentially harmful side effects.
Furthermore, music can also promote healthy brain activity throughout the aging process. It really does give your brain a complete workout.
Besides reducing pain, anxiety, and blood pressure, it can also improve the quality of your sleep, your mental acuity, memory, and mood. The experts are still debating why music is so phenomenally beneficial for our brains. Still, they can all agree that music has crucial benefits for seniors.
How Music Affects the Body
The benefits don’t stop with the mind either. Music also has many benefits for a person’s body as well. Let’s talk about our motivation to be physically active. For senior citizens especially, moving around is essential.
A UK study gathered 30 people and asked them to walk on a treadmill until they were exhausted. One group had motivational music, the other had non-motivational music, and the 3rd had no music at all. The researchers discovered that music was a big factor for how long each group exercised. Unsurprisingly, the groups with music exercised longer. The motivational music worked best, but the non-motivational music was still better than having no music at all.
Unfortunately for seniors, when exercise becomes the hardest, that’s also when it becomes the most essential. How music can motivate the mind to exercise is ultimately how the body can benefit in the end.
Some researchers are even concluding that music can improve our immune function. For instance, Wilkes University researchers examined how music changes our levels of IgA, which is a crucial antibody that your body utilizes to stave off disease. In the study, undergrad students had their IgA levels measured, thirty minutes before and after being exposed to a tone click, a radio broadcast, relaxing music, or silence. The students who saw the largest increase in IgA levels were those who listened to the relaxing music.
A 2nd study done by Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that music made by Mozart assisted severely ill patients in relaxing by reducing their quantity of stress hormones and lowering the quantity of interleukin-6 in their blood. This is an important discovery because interleukin-6 is a protein often correlated with heart issues, diabetes, and mortality.
Even though it’s true that these studies are in the early phases, the connection between music and better immune responses is auspicious. For seniors who experience a declining immune system as they get older, this research is even more critical.
One great way that seniors can utilize music to its fullest potential is to listen along while dancing. This will improve their mobility, coordination, and reduce pain and tension. The feeling of being mobile and independent is an empowering feeling for anybody. For seniors, all they need is some music to increase their mobility, motivation, productivity, as well as their overall happiness. It is for these reasons that senior living centers like Simi Valley include music programs for promoting good health.
For Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, music therapy can be tremendously helpful. A study done at the University of Miami School of Medicine discovered that listening to music increases melatonin levels, prolactin, serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in people with Alzheimer’s. What’s the meaning of this discovery? Well, the above brain chemicals are correlated with positive vibes, mood improvement, and reduction in stress and agitation.
Basically, the progression of the disease did not influence the effect of the brain’s primary response to music. Furthermore, music can also bring back long lost memories (and emotions) of old. For people with dementia and Alzheimer’s, music frequently brings about positive feelings. In particular, favorite tunes from childhood, or songs from early adulthood, have been seen to influence those in the later stages of dementia positively.
The health benefits of listening to music for seniors can’t be ignored. From improving brain function to bodily health, and even assisting those with dementia and Alzheimer’s, music can serve as a pivotal tool in enhancing the lifestyles of seniors. For more information about the benefits of music and what kind of music programs we offer our seniors, contact Simi Valley today. We’d love to speak with you!