senior woman enjoying music with headphones

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How Music Can Enhance the Lives of Seniors

Music is part art, part entertainment and a vital part of all cultures. Music can be heard everywhere: from the songs of birds to the rhythmic beating of our heart. It’s no wonder we’re drawn to it from an early age and enjoy it throughout our lives. Seniors can use music every day to enhance feelings of contentment and ease stress and fatigue. 

Here’s how:
Feels good. Listening to music triggers the release of dopamine, the feel good chemical associated with pleasure and reward.
Making memories. Part of the reason music creates such lasting memories is that listening to it engages many parts of the brain, triggering connections and creating associations.
Need to move. Music often creates a strong desire to move with the music (dancing, foot-tapping) and our heart rate speeds up or slows down, depending on the music we hear.
Setting the mood. How does music affect your mood? You can use it to achieve various goals, such as to energize, maintain focus on a task or reduce boredom. For example, music can help you relax and disengage from a stressful situation by allowing you to focus on the beauty of the music. And lyrics that relate to your personal experiences may help give voice to feelings or experiences you’re unable to express.

The Glebe Is in Tune with Your Life
There are a variety of ways The Glebe supports music in senior living and it’s a huge part of life here. We feature community concerts by local professional musicians who play everything from country to classical, jazz and gospel. 
Residents also put on informal concerts; and impromptu sing-a-longs have been known to break out around the piano. We also take community trips to the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra as well as the theater. Plus, 2021 marked the 16th time we’ve hosted the Carole Edwards and Friends Piano Ensemble Concert. You can hear Carole talk about her concert and the other musical opportunities at The Glebe here.

How Music Benefit Seniors

Not all types of music have positive effects. Music that’s too loud or too jarring can actually distract you from doing things. But for the most part, listening to music, specifically classical music, has beneficial effects for seniors, including:

  • Reducing pain
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving memory 
  • Promoting sleep
  • Enhancing mood and reducing depression
  • Boosting immune function

Making Your Own Music

While you don’t have to play music to enjoy its benefits, there are other advantages to learning how to play an instrument.
Aids in multitasking. Every time you play music, you’re giving your brain a  workout, exercising your logical, creative, visual, auditory, emotional and motor functions.
Builds brain power. The mental demands of learning an instrument are so significant that musicians’ brains are structured differently from other people’s brains. 
Increases creativity. Musicians are very good at divergent thinking, which is the ability to follow different lines of thought to come up with new solutions to problems. Playing music appears to enhance communication between parts of the brain to help musicians think about complex problems differently, and come up with more creative solutions. Making music also encourages collaboration and improvisation. 
Benefits every age. People who learn to play an instrument experience a decrease in depression, fatigue and anxiety and an increase in memory, verbal communication and a feeling of independence. In addition, playing piano can help alleviate symptoms of dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder and stroke, by improving cognition and dexterity, and reducing stress. Seniors may also see increases in their memory and thinking. 
Promotes goal setting. Learning an instrument, or a new song, requires goal setting. It’s been found that having goals can rewire your brain through neuroplasticity. In fact, your brain can alter itself to be able to reach your goal. Or course, the benefits of setting goals can happen with any number of interests.
Helps you feel better. It has been found that learning to play an instrument has led to seniors reporting higher self-esteem, as well as  feeling more independent and connected to others.

If you’re ready to take your retirement lifestyle to a higher level, contact us today and discover what our independent living community of interesting neighbors can offer you.