Music therapy has shown to be an excellent activity for seniors. Not only is it productive, but it also keeps one active and occupied for a few hours every day. The Older Americans Act of 1992 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.” By stimulating the brain with music, one not only improves cognitive abilities, but also taps into an emotional space which provides much comfort to ailing seniors. According to one study, “cognitive and neural benefits of musical experience continue throughout the lifespan, and counteract some of the negative effects of aging, such as memory and hearing difficulties in older adults.”
Music therapies assist in alleviating stress for seniors. Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a study with 30 people showing signs of depression over 80 years of age and found that participants in a weekly music therapy group were less anxious; less distressed and had higher self-esteem. Drumming and other forms of non-verbal communication address certain frustrations seniors face and provides them with a safe space to actively engage their emotions. Awareness of negative feelings often helps one to identify triggers and to eliminate the potentially dangerous results of harboring such sentiments. Through such a cathartic activity, seniors afford themselves the ability to move beyond these negative emotions and address their situations with a calmer outlook, thus relaxing their tension and even lowering their heart rate.
The power of music does not discriminate; it is not biased towards one’s bodily or mental limitations. Whether you are active and dancing or simply lying inert, music can be appreciated. For those who choose to dance, benefits include increased physical activity and coordination. Those lying inert can trigger happy memories that provide comfort and a sense of peace. Additionally, playing instruments in a seated position encourages confidence and participation. No matter how one interacts with music, the activity engagement inspires hope and contentment.
Music therapy is also a great tool to increase social and speech skills for seniors. Singing a song, or humming along with a caregiver can be a wonderful bonding experience to establish trust during a transitional situation. Adding music into the everyday eases the process of implementing routines, thus decreasing the stress that may accompany change.
Studies show that people in every age group benefit from music therapy. So whether you are younger or older, enjoy music every day for a better outlook on your life and your future.
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