The benefits of music extend beyond simply clapping your hands, tapping your foot and enjoying yourself. Music is one of the most powerful tools people can utilize to connect both with each other and with themselves. For aging seniors who want to live life to the fullest in their later years and ward off diseases and conditions that may negatively affect their brain, learning to play an instrument or incorporating music listening into their daily routine can have a transformative effect. Here are five ways the benefits of music can help aging adults adjust to retirement and maintain their cognitive, social and emotional abilities.
- Retain and Improve Memory and Brain Function
It’s a fact – learning to play an instrument strengthens your brain. If you spent even a minimal amount of time practicing your instrument as a child, your neural pathways are more numerous and stronger than individuals who did not. However, the benefits of learning an instrument do not stop in childhood. Seniors can decide at any time to exercise their brain through expanding their musical knowledge and potentially delay the onset of brain-affected diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Simply listening or singing along to music allows those stricken with dementia and Alzheimer’s to connect to memories and emotions previously thought erased.
- Provide a Creative Outlet
Learning to play an instrument in later years can ward off depression, incite motivation and ultimately allow the individual the power to creatively express themselves. Without a hobby, many seniors may find they age must faster both mentally and physically. Focusing energy on creating beautiful music can lift the spirits and provide a relaxing use of unoccupied time.
- Enhance Social Life
Belonging in a community is essential at all stages of life, but particularly in later years since social interactions help stimulate the mind. Learning to play an instrument alongside others, joining a dance class or simply attending a weekly outdoor concert can help seniors find more joy in one of the central benefits of music: community.
- Increase Physical Dexterity
Music encourages bodies to move. Hands clap, feet dance and bodies sway to the rhythm. Physically playing an instrument challenges muscle groups even further. Seniors can increase the dexterity of their fine motor skills by shaping guitar chords, strumming the strings, or exercising each finger at once on the piano keys.
- Sharpen the Senses
Music stimulates many of the senses. Learning an instrument requires the individual to hear intricate notes and patterns and touch the strings or keys in just the right manner. Dancing may require the person to watch others in order to learn the step. One of the benefits of music is putting people back in touch with how it feels, sounds and looks to enjoy their life.
Research the possibility of obtaining music therapy or instrument instruction in your town or at your retirement home. Use the benefits of music to maintain your mental, physical and emotional health throughout your later years.