Music is universal. It has a strong cultural significance around the world. From work chants to opera, we have embraced music and used it for a variety of ways to reflect the human condition. A support in difficult moments, a representation of cultural values, or just a happy birthday wish. Music is everywhere. It makes all our daily activities more enjoyable. So we must remember, music is beneficial to seniors too. Studies show that it has a positive impact on the psychological, as well as physical well-being of the elderly population.
Dopamine, magic chemical
We all agree that when we listen to music, we feel good. But why is that? What is happening to our bodies when we hear our favorite tunes? Many studies show that when we turn on some good music, our brain starts releasing a chemical called dopamine and our body starts reacting to it. Our mood improves, we perform daily tasks better, we exercise harder, our blood pressure changes.
As our elderly parents age, they may become less mobile and more alone. Due to health and other issues, they may stop participating in activities that they used to be involved in for years.
They may suddenly struggle to find something enjoyable to do that breaks down their daily routine. Learning to play music, singing, or just simply listening to the radio helps them bring challenge and variety to their everyday lives.
A memory booster
Did you know that listening to music boosts your memory? The reason why music has such a strong effect on memory is because it activates large parts of our brain. According to the University of Queensland in Australia, We don’t store our memories in the brain in one centralized location. Instead they are spread throughout neurological pathways all around our brains. It helps evoke memories. Music is beneficial especially to seniors who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Old tunes from youth can help them relive parts precious times in their lives when they were young and active.
You can help your elderly loved ones create their own lists of favorite songs on their tablet or smartphone. There‘s no need to go on a search for old records and CDs.
Seniors that are not to familiar with the digital world can find any song they want online via the popular Swedish music app Spotify, now available for free for tablets and smartphones. If your senior finds it too complicated to access online, try it with Oscar Senior. Spotify is integrated into their application interface to allow seniors one click access to their favorite tunes.
“I’ve been using Oscar Senior to talk with my son who has moved cross-country last year. Now he showed me how I can listen to music on my tablet. It’s easy. I just open Oscar Senior and click on the button where I can listen to my favorite pop classics and bossa nova.” – Gina, 80, from Arizona
Encourages social interactions
Music triggers social interactions that are so important for our seniors. Many senior homes organize musical events from concerts to ballroom dancing, in order to help seniors get social and beat loneliness and isolation. Hearing music in the background creates a fun and relaxing atmosphere. Notably, seniors tend to chat and interact more with each other if there’s music playing. So let’s get the party started!
Stress affects us at all ages. We all cope with it differently. It is well-known that stress can have a detrimental effect on our health. Our seniors are especially vulnerable. The National Institute of Mental Health states that prolonged stress can contribute to serious health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, as well as mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.
The important thing is to be able to recognize stress and manage it. We can choose from a number of techniques on how to ease stress in our lives. Good music is one of the most natural, and enjoyable ways. Listening to relaxing music can slow heart rate, ease tension, and create a sense of calmness.
“I just moved to a retirement home last month. My house has been on sale since. I’m feeling sad about it, but it has to be done. What’s going to happen? Who will move in? It’s been on my mind. The only thing that helps me relax is listening to music I’ve enjoyed as a young girl. The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel are what I wake up and go to sleep to. Sometimes Mozart or Beethoven.” – Laura, 76, from New York
We are all familiar with the moment when we’re enjoying ourselves at a party and our favorite song starts playing. We want to get up and start moving to the beat.
Music motivates seniors to start moving, dancing, and even doing chores around the house! An upbeat rhythm, a catchy melody gets them out of their armchairs to be more physically active, and happy. Seniors will thus improve their mobility, coordination and overall life satisfaction.
Music is beneficial to our seniors for countless reasons. It improves their overall state of mind, physical mobility and social opportunities. Music evokes joyful emotions, improves mood, and brings comfort. Music is a way to express our creativity. Our seniors needs our help to integrate music into their lives. With the right tools, we can boost their wellbeing and give them a daily dose of melodious joy.