A large majority of people admit to loving a certain genre of music. For many people their love of ragtime, classical piano, or even the big-hair bands of the 80s brings about feelings of happiness, security, and familiarity that greatly increases their quality of life.
Our love of music provides much more value than simple enjoyment. In fact, new scientific studies show exactly how music helps our brains develop, thrive, and heal. It also shows us how helping seniors maintain an active connection with their favorite music greatly increases their quality of life.
Do you know a senior who can play a musical instrument?
Several recent studies confirm the findings of research published in the journal Neuropsychology in 2011. Musicians between the ages of 59 and 80 scored higher on tests of motor dexterity, visual-spatial judgment, verbal memory and recall, and mental acuity than their non-music playing counterparts.
Encouraging a senior to pick up a long-forgotten violin or sit down in front of a piano again can bring about powerful emotions. It can also help them feel competent and accomplished while giving them something to share with their friends and relatives that makes everyone smile.
Listening to music aids in recovery time for people who have experienced a stroke
For people who are recovering from a stroke, the sense of helplessness and frustration can be overwhelming. One study found that listening to music helped with post-stroke anxiety. Listening to music is associated with improved attention span. Patients who were willing to sing along with music experienced a great improvement in the recovery of their ability to speak.
Compared to white noise and silence, music provided the greatest help to people recovering from a stroke, and listening to classical music provided the greatest benefit to visual attention spans.
For people living with Alzheimer’s disease, music is a game changer
A report from the Mayo Clinic states that singing or listening to music provides great benefits to people with various forms of dementia. The areas of the brain most affected by music are often also the areas of the brain least damaged by the disease. Music has been shown to reduce agitation, stress, depression, and anxiety. It even has a positive effect on caregiver fatigue and stress.
Choosing music that the person affected by dementia enjoys or enjoyed in their youth is especially important. Singing can stimulate memories that may otherwise be inaccessible, so this type of music therapy can be especially rewarding for both caregivers and their loved ones.