December 1, 2022
Feel the Rhythm: Music Therapy Activities for Seniors
Music is more than just a source of entertainment – it can also be used therapeutically and as an aid to relaxation.
Listening to music has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and even boost your mood by releasing feel-good hormones. Music can also help with focus and concentration, allowing you to stay task-oriented while avoiding distractions. Furthermore, the act of playing or creating music is an excellent way to express yourself creatively and connect with others in a meaningful way.
As a senior, you can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of music by taking part in some simple, inexpensive activities you can perform in your own home or residential living setting. Consider adding some tunes to your daily routine – you might be surprised by the positive effects music can have!
The therapeutic benefits of music for seniors
Many studies have explored the ways that music therapy can improve seniors’ lives. One study on music therapy for seniors in institutionalized settings found that it helped produce “improvement in the physical dimensions of quality of life and an increase in creativity and social interaction.” Researchers concluded that music therapy can also potentially improve overall health in older adults and alleviate certain chronic conditions like depression.
In a research paper titled “Music Is Like a Family Member Sitting Next to You“, researchers confirmed previous studies by detailing several ways music can benefit seniors, including the following:
- Listening to music passively or receptively influences the autonomic nervous system in a way that enhances health.
- Music can reduce attention to upsetting stimuli or environments and induce a state of relaxation, thereby improving well-being.
- Music can affect emotion and memory on the neurobiological level by acting on various components of the limbic system like the hippocampus, which influences memory, or the amygdala, which influences emotional responses.
Music therapy activities for older adults
You don’t need to be a music therapist or musician to experience the therapeutic benefits of music. There are many ways for seniors to bring music therapy into their lives.
- Bring it home
If you used to attend concerts of a particular artist or style of music but are no longer able to, recreate the experience of those concerts in your own home. Download the appropriate music and play it. You can even dress like you might if you were really going out to a live performance and invite friends and loved ones to enjoy the experience with you as you might by attending a show together.
Even if you never attended live-music events, you may have enjoyed other hobbies or activities like dancing, bar-crawling or taking day drives that were accompanied by a particular musical soundtrack. Play that music and conjure up the same feelings those activities evoked.
- Time travel
Similarly, simply hearing a particular tune can bring you right back into a cherished memory. Popular music from your own past can evoke a particular period of your life and help you reminisce about the good old days.
Studies have shown that engaging in music activities, such as playing an instrument or singing, can improve memory recall and help individuals to better remember things for longer periods of time. Music has been found to be particularly helpful for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, providing a way for them to access memories from earlier times in their life.
- Set the mood
Music has the power to affect our emotions, and it can be used as a tool to help us relax or energize ourselves. Listening to familiar songs can provide a sense of comfort and familiarity while listening to calming music can help reduce agitation and promote relaxation.
Uplifting music can also help lift our spirits when we’re feeling down. No matter what your mood, there’s sure to be a song that can enhance it!
- Create music on your own
If you already have a love of playing a particular instrument, pull that instrument out of the attic or rent, borrow or buy a new one and get back into it. Even if you have no experience playing music, there are numerous apps you can download to your smartphone or tablet that simulate various musical instruments and provide the following benefits:
- You need no prior musical experience to make music with them.
- No unwieldy or expensive musical equipment is required.
- You can easily control volume levels, so you don’t disturb others in your immediate environment.
Another popular music therapy activity for seniors is group drumming. Group drumming not only provides an opportunity for friends and family members to socialize but it also helps stimulate brain function and strengthens memory skills. The exercises involve playing different rhythms while paying attention to the beat of a single drum.
Overall, music therapy activities are an excellent way for seniors to stay engaged in life while also improving their overall health and quality of life. With the right type of activity chosen specifically for each individual’s needs, it can be a powerful tool that promotes positive emotions while reducing stress and anxiety.
From therapeutic gardening and guided meditation to creative arts, social gatherings, evidence-based programs and more, Springpoint Senior Living at Manalapan is where older adults will find person-centered living that enriches each day, celebrates shared experiences, and fosters friendships.