Music & Life: Music, Health, and Aging

Music & Life

Ear training doesn’t have to start when you are in elementary school or college. Music activities like ear training benefit you no matter what your age, from eight months to eighty.

This article provides useful information for:

  • Older adults who want to discover the benefits of music
  • Music students and health professionals interested in creative ways of working with the geriatric population, and
  • Family members who want to use music to communicate with elderly loved ones in their lives.

So, what are some ways that ear training and music help older adults? Does musical training increase mental capacity and overall quality of life? Can music increase happiness?

  1. Music therapy techniques, such as listening to live music, significantly increase the quality of life in elderly patients. Benefits included more restful sleep and a need for less medication. [1][4]
  2. Musical activities increase communication in patients with dementia and reduce overall anxiety. Activities like singing and listening to music lightens mood and help elderly patients suffering from dementia self-express. [2]
  3. Exercising to music can help older adults maintain balance and reduce falls. In fact, exercising to music yields better results than similar exercises performed without music. [3]
  4. Studies suggest that leisurely enjoyment of music increases psychological well-being in the elderly, allows for self-expression, and can “facilitate successful aging.” [5]
  5. Even musical interactive video games like Nintendo’s Wii Music can benefit the overall health of the elderly in long term nursing home facilities by increasing balance and reducing falls. [6]

Geriatric music therapists have discovered that a variety of musical activities like practicing rhythm exercises with hand drums and learning basic keyboard lessons can increase the overall quality of life, dexterity, and cognitive abilities of mature adults. Musical memory outlasts other types of memory, and learning new musical skills like ear training and singing can improve communication in older adults[2]. There’s more on music and memory in our previous Music & Life article.

 

 

Check out some of these helpful online resources

  1. Enjoy singing to favorite songs of the past with AOL Radio.
    Singing a favorite song can bring back joyful nostalgia like memories of your first romance or the summer days when you stayed at your grandmother’s house. Singing can be a powerful tool to reconnect and communicate with others, even when memory starts to fade.  Enjoy singing along with your favorite pop songs from the 1940s to the 2000s at AOL’s Decades and Oldies radio stations.
  2. Relax with free relaxation music downloads from Easy Ear Training.
    Enjoy the physiological and psychological benefits of music by listening to relaxing and soothing music.  Easy Ear Training has five excellent relaxation tracks available for free right here.
  3. Exercise your mind and ears with fun music apps.
    Test your music knowledge with apps like Curtis Thorne’s Music Quiz! app or learn something new about harmony with Easy Ear Training’s new Chordelia: Triad Tutor. If you think you are a music whiz, check out Strands Music Quiz app which customizes quizzes based on your listening preferences.
  4. Learn how to play the piano.
    Learning a new musical skill can start at any age. Check out the piano resource ZebraKeys to find instructional videos, web sites, and tutorials on basic piano keyboard skills.
  5. Get musically fit with Wii Music
    Combine competitive play with musical expression in Nintendo’s Wii Music. Many adult communities and nursing homes in the United States have added interactive video game systems to benefit residents physically and mentally. Wii Music allows the player to perform on sixty different instruments and includes light physical activity associated with musical performance. Learn more in our Wii Music review.


Enjoy performing on a musical instrument, test your musical knowledge with a fun music quiz, or relax to enjoyable tunes. How does music benefit you? Share your own musical experiences or music therapy tips in the comments below!

Sources

  1. Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc. Mills Music Mission. (2011). Mills Music Mission. Retrieved from http://www.sinfonia.org/mmm3.asp
  2. Wall, M., & Duffy, A. (2010). The effects of music therapy for older people with dementia. British Journal of Nursing (BJN), 19(2), 108-113
  3. Graber, C. (2010). Exercising to Music Keeps Elderly Upright. Scientific American. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=exercising-to-music-keeps-elderly-u-10-11-23
  4. Chen, S. L., Lin, H. C., & Jane, S. W. (2009). Perceptions of group music therapy among elderly nursing home residents in Taiwan. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 17(4), 190-195. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2009.03.002.
  5. Laukka, P. (2007). Uses of music and psychological well-being among the elderly. 8(2), 215-241. doi:10.1007/s10902-006-9024-3
  6. Health Media Inc., (2008). Interactive computer games may have a role to play in the physical and emotional rehabilitation of elderly nursing home residents.. Canadian Nursing Home Journal

Series Information
This is part 15 of 24 in the Music & Life series.

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