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The Benefits of Listening to Music for Seniors

October 06, 2015, 00:48 AM

It’s like Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music: when it hits you, you feel no pain.” While Marley was certainly not speaking scientifically, today we know that he was actually right – listening to music does indeed help ease pain! For the elderly, this is nothing short of wonderful; easing pain can improve the quality of their lives without the troublesome side effects that come together with many medications.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Wendi Hammond via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by Wendi Hammond via flickr

But easing pain isn’t the only benefit of listening to music. Below are some other benefits of music that you may not have known about previously!

Keeps an aging brain healthy

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that listening to music gives you a “total brain workout,” and it’s a great way to keep your brain agile as you get older. For seniors, this means improving mental sharpness and memory, which in turn can ward off depression.

Music is an especially helpful tool for seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, specifically because it helps boost brain activity and recall old memories.

Improves sleep

Research has shown that listening to 45 minutes of soothing music before going to bed can help older adults sleep better, which in turns improves their daytime functioning. A win-win situation!

Reduces stress and anxiety

Listening to music can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn lowers stress. Cortisol is also the culprit behind certain heart diseases, so reducing this hormone in the body can also lead to a healthier heart.

Boosts your immune system

Research has found that listening to music you enjoy increases the levels of the antibody Immunoglobin A, helps prevent infections, and increases immune cells that fight bacteria and cancerous cells. All good news for the elderly.

Reduces depression and anxiety

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that depression in seniors living in communities ranges from 1%-5%, but it skyrockets to 13.5% for those who require home health care. So if music can help lower depression and anxiety in older adults, that’s great. And indeed, research has shown that older adults who listen to music are less likely to be depressed, and they also have improved self-esteem.

Listening to Music From Childhood

Music is something so powerful that when seniors hear music from their childhood, it awakens memories from the past, along with positive emotions. Even if the lyrics are sad, elderly people love hearing the beats and rhythms from their youth; they become revitalized and reinvigorated. Just watch this video in which an elderly man listens to music from his youth.

Listen to Music You Enjoy

Whether it’s Doris Day, Etta James, The Four Aces, or Nat King Cole, the key for seniors to reap the benefits of listening to music is to listen to music that they enjoy. You can find this out easily by asking them what their favorite songs are, or if they aren’t able to communicate, take a guess. Look up the music that was popular when they were teenagers, and play it for them. The worst that can happen? You’re wrong, and then you can just try another song. The best that can happen? All of the amazing things above.

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