Have you ever sang at the top of your lungs with your favorite music blasting on the radio? It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t. But it may have been a while.
Older adults living at home or in a senior living community often face health challenges. Memory loss from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, depression and physical ailments can make it hard to enjoy the gifts of music.
Let’s look at how music can enrich your loved one’s mind, body and overall well-being.
Music for the mind
Ever forget your car keys, phone or the reason you walk into a room? Imagine how downright scary it can be when memory loss is a constant companion. For people who suffer from memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s and other cognitive decline, there is a growing body of research that shows that memory loss can be reduced by listening to music.
Remembering familiar music and related events is one of the few areas spared by dementia.
Uplifts mood and relieves stress
Research shows that music can lower depression, anxiety, blood pressure and relieve stress. It may seem like a “no-brainer,” but in the busy life of a caregiver, you may forget how music can help mom and dad to feel more at ease and boost their mood.
Be sure to match the right kind of music to the situation. Soothing music helps dad to relax or go to sleep. If dad is wearing a headphone, make sure the music is at a comfortable volume.
Keeps the brain youthful
Along with memory improvement and a happy mood, music keeps the older adults’ brain as young as it can be.
Think of music as a way to stimulate the brain of your loved one and keep them engaged. An article by Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that the complexities involved in processing the music give our brains a workout, just like we use exercise to work out our bodies.
Learning to play a musical instrument in later years may guard against dementia and other cognitive declines according to a study reported in the International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Music for the body
A natural pain reliever
Pain is often a concern in later years. Music that makes mom and dad feel good can help to relieve pain, reduce the need for pain medicine and enhance their quality of life according to an article in Psychology Today.
The article suggests that music acts in ways to relax the listener by reducing anxiety and stress. Music distracts from any negative feelings about the pain and has a positive effect on the area of the brain that controls pain.
Dance to the music
Exercise can improve your parents’ endurance, flexibility, and balance. One study showed that learning new dance moves was more effective over other movements when it comes to countering the effects of aging on the brain. This is because of the effort it takes to learn new dance routines.
Dancing is usually with a partner or a group. Your loved one can enjoy some social time while they move to the beat. Senior living communities have a variety of fun programs that cater to their residents’ needs. Exercise such as dancing, walking, and yoga are all healthy choices. Of course, Mom can “dance” with her hands and her feet while sitting.
Here’s an easy list of ideas for your loved one to enjoy and reap the benefits of music:
- Take your loved one to a live performance. Senior living communities offer live shows and activities to dance and sing along
- Amazon has CDs with greatest songs from different eras.
- Gather with mom and the rest of the family for a sing-along of favorite songs. If you are in the car, iheart.com has a list of “Top Ten Best In-Car Sing-Along Songs”
- If your loved one lives in a senior living community, ask the community if they offer music therapy. Allegro senior living communities use music therapy as an integral part of the services they offer to their residents
- Encourage dad to learn to play an instrument. Drums are a popular choice for older adults. Check out the drum circle finder to find a drum circle close to your parent.
What are some of your favorite songs? What are the ways you like to enjoy music? Allegro Senior Living believes in music for inspired living. It’s in our name – Allegro – “music in a quick, lively tempo.” To learn more about our communities, visit our website at www.allegroliving.com and get in touch with one of our Senior Living Advisors.