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The Benefits of Music for Seniors

Senior woman listening to music

Ever had a bad day, or just a blah day, and had your mood lifted by a song you love? Music has the power to take us away from our troubles and raise our sagging spirits. But the benefits of music for seniors are more than just a way to make us feel happy.

Music Reduces Stress and Anxiety

It slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and reduces levels of stress hormones. It’s one reason why relaxing music is played at your doctor’s or dentist’s office. Music has even been shown to be more calming than sedatives for cardiac patients undergoing surgery. German researchers found that relaxing music was more calming for patients pre-surgery than midazolam, an anti-anxiety medication. Post-surgery, patients had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood after just 30 minutes of listening to classical music.

Of course, you don’t have to see a doctor to get the health benefits of music. The right song can give you the push you need to exercise harder and longer. It can get you off the couch and onto the dance floor, which can improve balance and coordination, reducing your risk of falling. Listening to, dancing to, or playing music is also good exercise for your brain.

Music engages almost every area of the brain. The sound of music stimulates your auditory complex in the temporal lobe; rhythm is processed in the cerebellum; the frontal lobes interpret the emotional content of music; the hippocampus helps us recognize music we know. And that doesn’t even begin to explain the complexity involved in listening to music, let alone playing music. Suffice to say, the health benefits of music are a total brain workout.

Music and Memory

Ever wonder why the songs from your youth stick in your memory? Or how music can bring back memories you haven’t thought about in years? The answer to that is how our brains react emotionally to important events in our lives. The songs attached to those events trigger powerful emotions we experienced back then. This is especially helpful for older adults suffering from memory loss. They may not be able to remember names and events, but play familiar music from their past and it’s like jumpstarting a car. Music allows them to access those memories and restores their sense of self.

To see the benefits of music for seniors suffering from dementia, watch this video of a man who “wakes up” and becomes himself again after listening to the music he loves. While not everyone with advanced dementia shows such a remarkable change in behavior when listening to music they love, music therapy can help people connect with themselves and others, and transcend the disease temporarily.

A Personalized Approach to Memory Care for Seniors

Music is just one way we connect with residents at The Arbor, the memory support neighborhood at Laurel Circle. Care plans are based upon each resident’s personal experiences, which helps us build strong, trusting and respectful relationships with each person in our care.

Get in Tune With a Healthy Lifestyle

Singalongs, symphony performances, and Movin’ to the Music fitness classes are just some of the ways music keeps us happy at Laurel Circle. To learn more about our positive approach to life, visit our Activities page and see why our lifestyle hits all the right notes.