Music can be one of the most profound kinds of therapy for Seniors…and also one of the easiest to integrate and cheapest! (and by cheap, we mean FREE!) More and more research is emerging to the benefits that music therapy can offer, including:
Mood Boost: It’s hard NOT to smile when one of your favorite songs come on! Studies show that music has a direct effect on our mood, mainly because of the limbic system’s response which regulates emotions.
Decreased Sundowning symptoms: Research from the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry notes that dementia patients have shown lower levels of aggression and agitation after music therapy.
Improved speech and cognitive skills: listening and singing along is a great passive way to work on speech therapy, even in nonverbal loved ones who can hum along. A Stanford University study found rhythmic music stimulated blood flow to the brain and improved seniors’ performance in cognitive tests!
Social interaction: Music encourages talking, dancing and reminiscing over memories that it stirs up.
Lowered blood pressure and reduce heart rate: There is a direct correlation to listening to music and our physical response…mostly it creates relaxing of muscles and tension, lowered blood pressure and even decreased heart rate!
With all that said, here are some ways to integrate music therapy:
1. Determine a daily “music hour”: having a routine is so helpful, especially for loved ones with cognitive decline. Try this designated “music hour” during the late afternoon/evening when sundowning symptoms tends to spike.
2. Pick a different oldies artist each week to listen to and learn about. While listening, read an article or two from Google on their bio or background. This keeps loved ones engaged and learning!
3. Have a soothing classical or easy listening station playing in the background. This is a great passive way to get the benefits of music therapy.
4. Print out lyrics and read/sing along. This helps encourage singing and engaging with the music. Plus, you can giggle at all the lyrics you have been messing up over the years!
5. Make a playlist that can be played on an app (like Spotify) or CD. This makes it easy for them to access and enjoy even when you aren’t around!