Music is a very powerful force in our lives. Just think about how you feel when you hear your favourite song, and how your mood shifts when you hear a sad song. Music can instantly change how we feel, and even create physical reactions in our bodies – a beautiful song might give you goosebumps, or a loud, intense song might get your heart racing. Let’s take a look at what else music can do for us, and why it’s so important for seniors to have it in their everyday lives.
Music can improve concentration and memory
As we mentioned, music can dramatically impact our mood, which makes it ideal for treating seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. When someone is frustrated or agitated, playing a soothing song can ease the tension and calm them down. Singing, dancing, and rhythm play can stimulate the mind and keeps seniors active and engaged.
Music can also improve memory and concentration for seniors. One study looked at the effects of background music on brain processing speed and memory (both episodic and semantic) in older adults with an average age of 69 years. They found that processing speed was improved while listening to classical music, compared to white noise or no music. They also found that episodic memory performance was better when listening to music than while hearing white noise or no music. Semantic memory was also improved with classical music.
Music is a great motivator
If you’ve ever found yourself struggling through a workout, only to get a boost of energy from a great song, you’ll understand the motivating power of music. For those who don’t like to exercise, music is an excellent way to get them moving. Listening to music while working out makes the whole process more fun. It also naturally sets our pace, which makes it ideal for any type of exercise.
Aside from formal exercise, it’s great for generally encouraging movement. Hearing a great song can encourage us to get up and dance, which is a great way for seniors to fit in a little more physical activity during the day. After all, every bit of movement counts!
Music brings people together
When you step into a party and everything is silent, it seems a bit awkward. But when music is playing, you immediately feel more relaxed and welcome. Music makes us more social and creates a positive environment. When music is present, people naturally gather to listen and chat about what they hear.
At The Waterford, (a Bria community) we book musicians and entertainers on a weekly basis who perform for our residents at meal times. The music creates a fun and social atmosphere, and we find that residents interact more with each other while the music is playing. It truly makes meal time feel special, like being out on the town.
Music makes us feel better
When you hear a longtime favourite song, it can spark memories that make you feel good. For seniors, listening to their favourite songs is a great way to exercise their minds and bring back fond memories. This is also why music is wonderful for treating depression. The right music can lift us out of a bad mood, or calm us down when we feel overwhelmed.
Music keeps things fun
Listening to music is a great way to combat boredom. When you have a quiet day with not much to do, putting on some music gives you something to focus on. It’s a great way to relax and calm your mind. Listening to soft music is ideal for those who want to try meditation or who want to feel more relaxed.
At Bria Communities, music is an integral part of the living experience for our residents. We have a music therapist who comes to The Waterford Care Centre every Wednesday for 2 hours over dinner. This music therapist interacts with the residents and performs pieces of music by request. We find that the music not only benefits the residents, but it also has a positive impact on the staff as well. Music is essential to create a warm, welcome and comfortable home environment for our residents.