Music is part of our daily lives. We don’t realize how important it is until we’re without it. In the kitchen, in the car, at the gym—music makes our days better.
For seniors, the effect of music can be profound. It is reported that as many as 25% of seniors struggle with some form of mental health challenge. Anxiety, depression, memory loss, and dementia are just a few of the conditions facing aging adults.
Music is a powerful tool that can help seniors maintain both their physical and mental health. Let’s take a look at music therapy and the ways music can help the seniors in your life.
What is Music Therapy?
Music therapy is the use of music to improve health and the quality of life for people of all ages. Participants might listen, sing, play an instrument, or dance. It is for everyone, regardless of experience, skills, or talents.
Music therapists design programs to meet the needs of the individual. Those programs may be receptive, involving listening, or active, involving creating or participating in music.
Music therapy can be done with individual seniors or in groups. It can provide physical activity and mental stimulation, and enhance home care for your aging loved one.
Mental Health Benefits
Music helps decrease stress and reduce anxiety. It improves mood, increases joy, and can help seniors communicate with family and caregivers. The physical benefits of music lead to mental health benefits.
Your senior may feel more motivated, experience less pain, and even sleep better. Music helps your aging loved one be active to the extent they are able. Dancing or even stretching to music can relax muscles, reduce heart rate, and lower blood pressure.
These musical activities decrease stress hormones like cortisol. They also help release endorphins that make the senior in your life feel better and more relaxed.
Sharing music decreases feelings of isolation. Listening to or creating music brings seniors together and provides cognitive stimulation and social interaction. Music offers a different type of self-expression and connection.
Listening to music can help seniors observe and reflect on their thoughts and emotions. The senior in your life may be better able to regulate emotions and thoughts using music. It can be powerfully nostalgic, reminding people of the past.
Participating in music is something nearly all seniors can do. Music therapists might have your loved one sing, dance, or play a musical instrument. Music becomes a new way to express thoughts, feelings, and creativity.
Decreased mobility or verbal ability does not make music inaccessible. Music therapists develop elderly care programs to fit individual abilities.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia
For those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, music can provide a powerful connection with the past. Familiar music helps seniors to access memories and experiences.
Some seniors with cognitive difficulties who struggle to communicate verbally can sing or hum along with familiar songs. Music opens new pathways of expression. Dementia care that involves singing together helps seniors stay in the moment, connecting and sharing past and present.
The memories music evokes are often intact, even when other cognitive abilities are not. As seniors access those memories, they also access core parts of their identities. The right music can calm agitation, ease stress and anxiety, increase self-expression, and improve quality of life.
Contact Bluebird Homecare Today
Adding music to dementia care or other senior care at home can be a challenge. Mental health care is critical to your loved one’s quality of life but hard to do all by yourself.
Contact us at Bluebird Homecare today to talk about getting help managing the many aspects of caring for your aging senior.