Over the years, numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of music therapy for people of all ages. For seniors, music in conjunction with skilled nursing care can reawaken the mind and uplift the heart. Princeton Health Care Center highlights five instances where music is particularly beneficial for seniors.
Music helps seniors process thoughts and maintain memories. Many people associate music with past events, and just hearing a song can trigger a thought or memory that a senior might have kept dormant for years. For dementia patients, music from their childhood or young adult years has proven to be effective in obtaining a positive response and involvement, even when the patient can no longer communicate.
Moreover, music has been found to stimulate parts of the brain, and studies show that music enhances the memory of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. One study conducted at UC Irvine showed that Alzheimer’s patients scored better on memory tests when they listened to classical music. Also, adults aged 60 – 85 with no musical experience exhibited improved processing speed and memory after just three months of weekly 30-minute piano lessons and three hours a week of practice.
Social & Physical Skills
Music inspires movement and promotes dance in seniors. These in turn boost coordination and help with walking and endurance. Even if a senior is not mobile, music triggers toe tapping and clapping, and gets the blood flowing. Increased social interaction and bonding with caregivers and others is another benefit music therapy offers seniors. This in turn can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression. In this context, music also plays an important role with occupational therapy.
At some point, almost every Alzheimer’s or dementia caregiver experiences some level of difficulty in managing their senior patient’s stress and agitation. However, playing music the senior enjoys can help relax and ease these aggressive behaviors. Also, slow songs such as ballads and lullabies can help better prepare your loved one for bed, or deal with changes to their routines that would ordinarily cause agitation.
Playing music has also been shown to reverse the body’s response to stress at the DNA level. Plus, playing a musical instrument can reverse stress at the molecular level. Blood samples from participants in an hour-long drumming session revealed a reversal of the hormonal stress response and an increase in natural killer-cell activity.
Music therapy used in conjunction with speech therapy has been proven to help seniors answer questions, make decisions, and annunciate. Music also helps slow the diminishment of speech and language skills in dementia patients, and research shows that even when some Alzheimer’s patients lose the ability to speak, they can still recognize and even hum or sing their favorite song.
Learn More About The Benefits Of Music
Princeton Health Care Center loves incorporating music into the daily activities with their residents – from talent shows to sing-alongs, and even bringing in local musicians to perform. We love that this not only boosts the moods of the residents but also promotes positivity. If you’d like to learn more about how we incorporate music into our residents’ care, contact us today.