Undoubtedly you’ve heard the expression “Music soothes the soul.” But did you know that it also has numerous health benefits—tangible benefits that can help offset the effects of aging? In this article, we’ll explore how music can work wonders for the overall health and well-being of seniors.
Music: The Universal Language
From Frank Sinatra to Barbra Streisand and Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, from classical to Big Band and jazz, we’ve all got our favorite composers, musicians, musical styles and singers. Music can evoke emotions, feelings and memories that words and pictures frequently cannot. It’s little wonder, then, that music has been a fundamental part of human culture throughout all of recorded history.
It’s only relatively recently, however, that scientists and behaviorists have developed an in-depth understanding of the role music plays in helping us maintain our overall health.
Just What the Doctor Ordered
Consider, for example, how music reduces stress. By getting lost in sounds, we tune out (pardon the pun!) the world around us. Annoying or anxious thoughts tend to subside or get temporarily turned off, enabling us to give our minds and bodies a welcome rest from the “noise” of everyday living. The result? Lowered blood pressure and decreased heart rate.
Furthermore, slower music can produce an additional calming, immune- and mood-boosting effect by lowering cortisol levels and increasing hormones that improve the immune response and raise endorphin levels.
Yet that’s only scratching the surface of music’s medicinal effects.
A Prescription for the Whole Body
Are you familiar with the so-called “Mozart Effect,” as observed in people listening to Mozart-style music? In essence, it’s a cognitive phenomenon induced by Baroque music that enhances learning by activating both the right and left sides of the brain—a process that enables the brain to process information more easily.
The list goes on.
Studies have shown that when you hear music you like, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine that has positive effects on your mood—such as increased feelings of happiness.
Some of music’s other health-related benefits include:
• Augmenting the results of exercise. Studies suggest that music can enhance aerobic
exercise, boost mental and physical stimulation, and increase overall performance.
• Improving memory. Research has shown that the repetitive elements of rhythm and melody
help our brains form patterns that improve memory.
• Enhancing comfort. People in medical environments who listen to music as part of their care
report higher levels of overall satisfaction than patients who are not exposed to music. (In fact,
music therapy has largely become an accepted and recognized practice within the healthcare
field as an effective mode of treatment.)
Music: Part of the Southgate Lifestyle
At Southgate at Shrewsbury Retirement Community, we are well aware that music can prove highly beneficial in multiple ways. That’s why we offer all our residents—in both our independent and assisted living communities—ample opportunities to incorporate music within their day-to-day lives.
Our 200-seat theater, for example, serves as a perfect venue for live classical, jazz and other musical performances by professional theater companies. We also host our Tuesday evening summer concert series at Southgate Park. What’s more, we offer high-quality off-campus excursions to experience the magnificent sounds of the Boston Symphony, The Boston Ballet and the Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra.
Clearly, if there really is a fountain of youth, it lies in the magical sounds, murmurings and vibrations of music.