The fabulous benefits of music on the body and the mind for elderly adults

by | Jan 31, 2023

Music is an extremely powerful tool in improving the quality of life for elderly adults. Whether it’s utilising it as a way of enhancing the mind to provide an individual with a greater standard of mental health and allowing one to improve their memory. Or if it’s used for boosting and promoting regular physical activity and connecting a group of elderly adults to motivate each other toward a common goal. Either way, music has a range of truly fabulous benefits on the body and mind, and this blog will talk you through them.

The benefits for the mind

 

Stress Reduction

Listening to music or partaking in musical activity has been proven to increase relaxation and self-esteem while reducing tension and anxiety. If a senior is stressed or agitated then using music as a tool to settle down agitation, is very effective, as it creates positive signals that are sent to the brain and this creates positive thoughts. Therefore, music is a great way of allowing an individual to forget the stress which was previously straining their mind by enhancing positive thoughts and releasing the negatives in a therapeutic way. The type of music that works for stress reduction in elderly adults will depend on an individuals music tastes but in general classical and jazz music often have the greatest general effect on relieving stress.

A powerful tool for memory loss

If an individual has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, then music can be such a powerful tool in recovering memories from their earlier life. Music is stored differently in the brain compared to speech, so it can bring forth recollections that mere words cannot. The cognitive and emotional effects of music help those with dementia connect, not only with their own memories but also with other people and the world around them.
Music of course doesn’t reverse the effects of memory loss, but it certainly slows cognitive decline and allows elderly adults with mild or moderate memory loss symptoms, to rejoice in remembering the past and happy moments which occurred in their life that are connected to a particular song or type of music. Once the brain has been stimulated again, it will deteriorate at a much slower rate, meaning that the daily practice of listening to music can be vital for an elderly adult struggling with memory loss.

For elderly adults who don’t suffer from memory loss or a form of dementia, music still stimulates their brains and benefits them in a very similar way. It increases short-term memory and helps with daily tasks that they might forget otherwise and as a result, guides a prolonged period of independence.

Helps to tackle depression and anxiety

Without communication and support from those around them, elderly adults’ mental health can be significantly impacted. Isolation, depression, and anxiety are some common effects that they may unfortunately experience. Studies have shown that jazz and classical music can lessen the symptoms surrounding depression. The calming nature of the music releases stress increases the number of endorphins and helps to soothe people in situations where they may be feeling anxious.

There are several certified music therapists around now who can provide specific listening sessions for different individuals and can generate serious progress for the individual in overcoming anxiety and depression.

What can be an even more effective method is elderly adults enjoying the positive benefits of music in a group setting and sharing their love of music together. For those who struggle with depression or anxiety, the outcome of music therapy as a group can provide even greater results in overcoming their negativity. It can promote self-expression amongst others which as a result can lead them to share worries with others around them and as in most situations in life, talking with those around you about your life worries or problems often removes a huge amount of weight from one’s shoulders. This opening up with others as a result of group music sessions is a fabulous relationship builder and a great way of forming long-term relationships for elderly adults.

 

The benefits on the body

 

Physical health benefits

For elderly adults, regular exercises are very important to maintain muscle health and boost the body’s overall fitness. Music on its own may not directly improve physical health, but it has extremely important indirect benefits. When an elderly individual is listening to music, it can increase their motivation towards exercising and prolongs the period of time in which they partake in physical activity.

Exercising to music in a group setting can be even more beneficial for the physical health benefits of listening to music. This is because faster and upbeat music provokes extra motivation when working out, as you adjust to the rhythm of the music and the brain will focus less on the exercise itself, again leading to longer workout times. In addition to this, when exercising as a group to music you’re all in it together and the levels of natural motivation are greater and this once again is a catalyst for prolonged workout times. The increase in movement should allow an individual to realise improvements in muscle strength, flexibility, and bone density as well as stimulating the organs in the body, improving quality of sleep, and lowering blood pressure.

If an elderly individual has reduced mobility, the fun and enjoyment can still be experienced by tapping away to the rhythm of the beat. It has been found that even minimal movement such as tapping a foot or clapping hands is enough activity to release any pent-up mental and physical stress and bring joy into the room.

Music connects you with others

As already mentioned, when a group of elderly adults are able to exercise to music as part of a group, it has tremendous benefits on the body. Music provides the tool for creating bonds amongst people, cutting across backgrounds and abilities and creating a collective level of enjoyment. This shared feeling of togetherness and a bond over exercising to music has such positive effects, that this provides a unified level of motivation to make it a regular occurrence and a staple part of their lives. As one of the most important aspects of exercising to music is the implementation of it in the long run, this is far more likely to happen when a whole group is involved as they each motivate one another to keep up the exercise.

If a group of elderly adults was exercising without music playing then the effort and length of the exercise is far more likely to be lessened. When music is playing, you immediately feel more relaxed, welcome and ready to freely express yourself. A fun and social side are added to the exercise element and this will only motivate elderly adults to continue to repeat this on a regular basis.

Overall, there are so many benefits music has on an elderly adult, from the psychological benefits of reducing stress, improving memory, and tackling depression and anxiety, all the way through to the physical benefits of increasing motivation towards exercising and exercising for longer. Which then improves the strength and flexibility of muscles, as well as enhancing bone density, lowering blood pressure, and developing a greater quality of sleep. When you add all the benefits up it really is a no-brainer as to why a care home should implement musical activity amongst their residents. Here at Sydenham House, we provide music as one of several activities as part of their social life for our lovely residents, if you would like to find out more about the amazing activities we offer here, then please visit our website.