For our whole lives, music plays a part in shaping our moods, creating our memories, and forming milestones as we grow. It should come as no surprise to find that music can have a beneficial role as we age, too.
Over the years, doctors have been recommending music therapy for the increasing senior population, especially for those who are suffering from Alzheimers or dementia. Music Therapy centers and the American Music Therapy Association build on a long and rich history of music as a therapeutic source that goes back over two thousand years. In the early 20th century, as well, community musicians would travel to military hospitals and play music for suffering veterans in an attempt to ease their physical and mental trauma.
On a physical level, music helps in a variety of ways. From dancing to songs reminiscent of earlier times to exercising to high-tempo tunes, a little music can have huge benefits. The true benefits that are less obvious relate directly to emotional and mental health. Here are just a few of the positive effects of music therapy on elder patients:
- Increased social interaction
- Improved self-expression
- Decreased anxiety, tension, and fear
- Reduced feeling of loneliness
- Higher memory recall
- Boosts self-esteem
- Rebuilding communication and engagement
From playing old wartime songs as part of group therapy to encouraging individuals to sing songs from their youth, music therapists consistently see the value in music as a source to alleviate stress, promote mental healing, and help deal with the loss of control that comes from dementia and Alzheimers.
How can this be applied at home? Modern technology allows for wireless speakers to be easily installed in any home. Add in voice-activated assistants who have access to music libraries filled with thousands of songs, old and new, and you can easily turn any home into a place where music can be played in any room of the house, acting to improve moods, benefit mental health, and more. In addition, elder relatives can be encouraged to take dance lessons, attend local concerts, and go do karaoke, all activities that are not only fun, but healthy too!