Editorial from Alyssa Ivy, Digital Communications Specialist at HomeWell Franchising
Since the earliest days of my childhood, music, and the power of music, has been evident to me. No matter your age, ability, or interest, music has a way of sparking sensational feelings and memories within us. As we start to age, the benefits of music continues to have a significant impact on our cognitive and speech skills. It is the single most powerful force due to the release of potent chemicals in the brain such as dopamine.
Many have found that the use of music as a form of therapy is one way to improve cognition but also to reach those who are already cognitively impaired. The Older Americans Act defined music therapy as “the use of musical or rhythmic interventions specifically selected by a music therapist to accomplish the restoration, maintenance, or improvement of social or emotional functioning, mental processing, or physical health of an older individual.” Let’s take a deeper look into how music therapy can help seniors improve their everyday life.
Music can help seniors process their thoughts and maintain memories. Many people associate music with past events, and just hearing a song can evoke a memory even many years after an event. For older adults suffering from Dementia, music from their childhood or young adult years has proven to be effective in obtaining a positive response and involvement, even when they can no longer communicate.
Music therapy has been proven to help older adults answer questions, make decisions, and speak clearer. It can help slow the deterioration of speech and language skills in dementia patients; studies have shown that even when an Alzheimer’s patient loses the ability to speak, they can still recognize and even hum or sing their favorite song.
Some caregivers have difficulty managing their aging loved one’s stress and agitation. Playing music they enjoy can help relax and ease the aggressive behaviors. Slow songs like lullabies can help prepare your loved one for bed or deal with changes to their routines that may cause agitation.
Music can inspire movement in seniors. With music comes dancing, after all. Music and dancing promote coordination and can help with walking and endurance. Even if your loved one is not mobile, music can inspire toe tapping and clapping, thus getting the blood flowing once again.
Increased social interaction with caregivers and others is another benefit music can offer seniors. It encourages bonding with others, which in turn can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression.
If you are not using music in your everyday routines, try slowly introducing it into your daily routines. Soon you will notice increased alertness, improved speech, and increased social skills. All of these in conjunction will soon lead to an increased physical activity. That is the power of music. I want to share with you that one of my favorite songs is Good Life by OneRepublic. This song instantly makes me want to dance, which in turn, puts me in a happy mood. Do you have a song that always sparks a memory or sensational feeling?