October 9, 2023 —Everyone loves music. Instinctively, we recognize its influence on us.
When you listen to music, a part of your brain called the nucleus accumbens triggers the release of dopamine, sometimes called the happiness chemical.
Scientific Benefits of Music
Not only does music make you happy, it offers these proven scientific benefits:
- Lowers stress
- Increases immunity (even more if you play instead of listening)
- Boosts verbal skills
- Improves sleep (classical music)
- Reduces depression (meditative sounds and classical music)
- Enhances running performance
- Strengthens learning
- Lowers blood pressure
- Decreases pre-surgery anxiety
- Reduces pain in cancer patients
- Helps Alzheimer’s patients remember
- Improves cognitive functioning in stroke patients
The use of music as therapy has proved so efficacious that Medicare covers music therapy when prescribed by a doctor.
Music at The Admiral at the Lake
Here at The Admiral at the Lake, a music therapist helps residents in The Harbors, the community’s residence for assisted living, memory support and skilled nursing. And The Admiral at the Lake frequently brings in music that ranges from choral groups to classical to jazz to school groups.
Music Makes Life Better
Music not only can heal what ails you, it can enhance your life.
Music boosts productivity, spurs creativity, motivates, improves your workout and reduces stress.
Relaxing music, such as Pachelbel and Vivaldi, helped research participants to relax and quickly lower their blood pressure. Even jazz and pop had the same blood pressure-lowering effects as silence.
Angry music, such as hard rock, helped research subjects improve their scores on video games. Granted, you may not care about a video game, but you may still appreciate boosts in hand-eye coordination, response time and focus.
Music Offers Great Benefits for Older Adults
At The Admiral at the Lake, we’re intrigued by the benefits of music, given that so many residents are artists. Music helps heal diseases that predominate among older adults and prevents symptoms that may cause illness.
Drumming improves connection between Alzheimer’s patients and their loved ones. Slow, steady drumbeats may help Parkinson’s sufferers walk better. Music therapists use drumming for nonverbal conversations and to help patients vent anger and other emotions. Rhythmic cues can also help stroke and Parkinson’s patients retrain their brains. In addition, one study that focused on drumming indicated that blood samples from people who participated in an hour-long drumming session showed a reversal in stress response and an increase in immune activity.
Learning an instrument may improve cognition and hearing. One study showed that 60- to 85-year-old adults developed improved processing speed and memory after three months of weekly 30-minute piano lessons along with three hours of practice a week. Another study showed that musicians don’t experience typical aging in the auditory cortex. Playing music, specifically keyboards, boosts production of human growth hormone, which helps retain muscle mass.
4 Ways to Add the Benefits of Music to Your Life
Music therapist Diane Snyder-Cowan offers some ways to bring music into your life.
1. Make your own music. Studies show making music provides even more benefits than listening. If you’ve never played before, try easy-to-play instruments, such as a recorder, a harmonica or hand drums.
2. Listen to music from your past. Music is especially helpful for people with memory and cognitive problems, such as Alzheimer’s. However, playing music from your past triggers pleasurable reminiscences that improve mood and memory. Play music that was popular when you were younger (and don’t forget to dance).
3. Synchronize songs to the mood you’re trying to invoke. Upbeat music improves mood. Reflective and classical music may be more suited to meditation. Classical music improves sleep, reduces depression, enhances creativity and more.
4. Just add music. Everything goes better with music, so add it to your activities. If you have a clock radio, turn it on in the morning. Turn on the radio when you’re driving. Keep music as a backdrop to all your activities to reap more benefits.
The Admiral at the Lake is dedicated to supporting and promoting the personal independence, health and wellness of older adults. We don’t like the terms retirement community or senior living, because The Admiral at the Lake encourages a lifestyle that rejects stereotypes of aging. Schedule a personal tour today to discover how you can engage in a lifestyle with no limits.