Think back to one of your favorite songs. What memories are associated with that song and how does it make you feel?
Turns out that music can help keep your brain younger and fitter.
In fact, recent studies have been done to see how listening to music affects the brain. Music is very mathematical, and the ways the notes connect force your brain to do some serious computing for us to perceive sound waves of what we call “music”.
Whether you enjoy listening to music or playing it, both have enormous benefits, especially for older adults, and can help your brain stay sharp. Sound is so vital to our existence that even as we are in the process of passing away, or on hospice care, our hearing is the last sense of ours to go.
Below are some of the top benefits of listening to music as a senior:
- Music connects us with other people. As we age, many of us become lonelier due to our physical or cognitive limitations or what we perceive as such. Music has a way of keeping us connected with other people- whether we attend a concert or show, dance with friends when a song plays on the radio, or learn to play music as a hobby with others. Every culture throughout the world has some connection to music or musical traditions. Socializing keeps our brains young, and listening to music that connects us to others and encourage us to socialize with people keeps us young, too.
- Encourages physical fitness. We’ve all had moments where we may be slogging away on the treadmill and lack motivation to exercise. However, when you have music that gets you pumped, you’re more likely to have fun exercising and staying physically fit. Put on your favorite playlist when you go exercise next and pay attention to how it helped to motivate you to keep moving.
- Music can help exercise the brain. According to neurologists who have studied the impact of music on the brain, it turns out that listening to music gives your brain a good work out, and this is why- your brain has to work to interpret the melody of a song, anticipate the patterns in those songs (such as knowing the measure, beat or when the chorus is set to arrive), and making sense of what you are hearing-makes for a great brain workout, toning it up and keeping it younger and sharper.
- Music can be a great tool for memory loss. Music is stored differently in the brain than speech it, so it can bring forth recollection that words cannot. The cognitive and emotional effects of music can help people with dementia connect with their own memories, as well as with the memories of other people around them. Music also has the added benefit of reducing anxiety, stress, and agitations, and can help improve sleep, all things that are important to proper brain function.
- Music can help promote stroke recovery. The American Heart Association reports that stroke survivor experience enhanced improvements in strength and balance when they listen to music during their rehabilitation sessions. As music does with memory loss, it may help patients access different parts of the brain needed for movement and coordination and can help reduce depression amongst stroke survivors.
What are your own experiences with music? To learn more about how music can benefit seniors, click here!