Music can be an excellent tool to help seniors stay active and alert, enhancing their mental health and well-being. Music can also help prevent or lessen the impact of several issues that commonly affect seniors, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety disorders. The following are some ways music can improve seniors’ mental health—and how you can make sure your loved one stays healthy through music throughout his or her golden years.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is a holistic approach to mental health that combines music, sound, and movement. This modality can help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression in both children and adults. It is also used to improve memory. Research has shown that making music can also be helpful in treating Parkinson’s disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
One study, conducted by researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, found that among people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, those who listened to music for just half an hour a day were much less likely to develop depression. The soothing effects of music may help lessen emotional distress in seniors as well.
Reducing Anxiety and Stress
When seniors are alone, they are prone to feelings of isolation and loneliness. If a senior’s children or grandchildren live far away, he or she may feel as if he or she has no one around. Fortunately, there are many ways to help reduce these feelings. One way is by playing soothing music that helps calm anxiety and stress.
Dr. Carol H. Green-Risse and Dr. Suzanne C. Segerstrom, researchers from Tufts University, found that stimulating music can help seniors recall positive memories and improve their moods. When we feel happy or upbeat, we’re better able to identify positive memories, said Segerstrom, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology with an emphasis on health psychology and behavioral medicine from Florida State University; she’s also a core faculty member at Florida State’s Center for Cognitive Aging and Memory.
Encouraging Physical Movement
Often, seniors think that because they are elderly, they should not move around as much. However, studies have shown that seniors who engage in physical activities like walking and gardening report lower stress levels than their sedentary counterparts. In addition to relieving everyday stressors, regular exercise also helps mitigate depression among older adults—and it doesn’t matter if you start at age 65 or 80; it’s never too late to start moving your body and improving your mental health.
Promoting Awareness in Daily Activities
Add some music to your day, both as a way to lift your mood and to help you avoid distractions. Studies have shown that listening to music while you work can make you more productive, so blast away while performing menial tasks like cleaning or laundry. If nothing else, you’ll have something good playing in the background while doing chores—and if it’s good enough, you may just not notice how long it’s taking to finish!
Is Your Loved One Ready for a New Song?
Music doesn’t cure Alzheimer’s, but it does make symptoms more manageable and improves your senior’s quality of life. With certified dementia practitioners, Encore at Avalon offers special memory care-focused living communities for residents suffering from Alzheimer’s. Through community partnerships, we have access to services and activities, including music, that enrich our residents’ experiences. To schedule a tour, call today at 407-270-7500.