Listen Up! Music’s Health Benefits Are Plentiful
Playing music, singing and listening to music positively affects the cognitive, physical and emotional health, and social well-being of seniors and others. Here are some of the remarkable benefits of music:
- Decreases anxiety and soothes pain. Dentists and doctors report that patients who listen to mellow music before, during and after surgery and medical procedures report less pain and anxiety and require less sedative medication.
- Reduces stress. Listening to and playing music significantly lowers the stress hormone cortisol, which also is known for weight gain.
- Lowers blood pressure and boosts heart health. In a University of Maryland Medical Center study, the diameter of blood vessels expanded by 26 percent when a person listened to happy music and constricted by 6 percent when a person listened to anxiety-triggering music.
- Boosts the immune system. Music is shown to increase helpful antibodies, particularly immunoglobulin A, and supports cells that attack bacteria and germs invading the body.
- Lifts mood and decreases depression. Both singing and listening to music increase endorphins, which boost feelings of happiness and pleasure.
- Aids memory. Listening to music triggers the release of the brain’s neurotransmitter, dopamine, which aids cognition, voluntary movement, working memory and sleep.
- Assists the aging brain. University of Kansas Medical Center researchers discovered that people with the most musical training in their lives exhibited the best mental sharpness and scored higher on brain function tests.
Whether they prefer classical, country, ragtime or rock ‘n’ roll, music can help senior loved ones recover from illness or injury, improve their mood and recall past events. The benefits to the elderly are as numerous as the types of music!
How does music help you or your aging loved one?
My stepfather’s companion was 92, and lived in a care facility. Nellie was sharp as a tack but needed to be close to medical care for her bouts with pneumonia etc. One night I was visiting her and about 50 feet down the hall in a common room a pianist and violinist were playing various pieces, mostly to people who were asleep on their wheelchairs. About 830PM and Nellie is getting ready for bed because she didn’t sleep so well. And all of a sudden she starts to sing, beautifully, a song. I said “Nellie, what are you singing”. She said “They’re playing TILL WE MEET AGAIN, and I love that song.” Much later, when I could get at my history database, I found that TILL WE MEET AGAIN was popular in 1923. Nellie sang it as though she sang it every day in choir practice.
I’m an amateur musicologist…means I’m kinda anal about song’s original versions, covers, who sang it, when it was popular and how popular was it. While I heard the hit parade, I first experienced music in 1956 when my big sister screamed her head off watching elvis on the ed sullivan television show. By the time I was thinking about girls, it was darin, dion, avalon, orbison and others crowding the top 40 and filling up the record stores with 45s. I can sing those songs verbatim (no one will mistake it for the original however) ..but then I listen to them often even 50 years after they were popular…and of course there are rare oldies stations or sirius channels.
In 2005, I was a last minute replacement for a Christmas program to be given to a group of adults in their 80s. my friend who got me into it said ‘just tell them about your hobby’.. well I looked up a little research that says when the teenage hormones are ragin’, the music that we hear gets soldered in to our brains. So I got up in front of this group and said ‘I’m gonna play you a set of Christmas songs that haven ‘t been on the radio for over 50 years…for sure you’re gonna know the songs..they’re Christmas songs…but I want you to tell me who the performer is…who’s playing or singing or both…on the average, it took them 8 seconds to recognize judy garland, Vaughn Monroe, frank Sinatra, bing Crosby, spike jones and many others.
Released: November 15, 2011
Los Altos and Los Altos Hills have been accepted as Age-Friendly Cities!! Big kudos to initiative leader Anabel Pelham. As a part of the AF application, Senior New Ways will receive future tasking under grants. The first grant proposal team is being organized.
I will be presenting “Caregivers: Take A Deep Breath” at El Camino Hospital on November 18, as part of the World COPD Day event, hopefully the start of another caregiver group.
We presented our program overview at the United Methodist Church of Los Altos on November 12. In cooperation with a committee of church members, SNW will be one source of speakers on at least spiritual, health, and family topics for the community. A focus is the “40-70” rule, an estimated age range between adult children and their parents for “having the talk”.
I played the “tired cook” in a Norman Rockwell “living masterpiece” at the UMC art show in November… dear me, another disguise… I still prefer Elvis though.
We will be part of a National Volunteer Caregivers Network grant application for assistance in setting up visitor-caregiver networks in this area.
“How did I get over the hill without making it to the top?” (Anon.)
“A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don’t need it.” (Bob Hope)
Released: November 4, 2011
This is issue #1 of a casual online note/blog/tweet. Your comments and suggestions are WELCOME!
Senior New Ways has been incorporated into the Los Altos and Los Altos Hills Age Friendly Cities application. We expect future tasking under grants.
The first 20 copies of the “Laughs and Brains” DVD have been sold, including the first church library.
Senior New Ways will present its program of care facility visits, infotainment programs for groups, DVDs, and whole health / caregiver group facilitation at the Los Altos United Methodist Church on Saturday, November 12, from 9AM – Noon.
A caregiver resource group for men has begun in Palo Alto.
Our volunteers are visiting in 10 care facilities from Santa Clara to Redwood City.
You can buy our journals at Wine Country Living on Big Basin Way in Saratoga.