Research conducted in the United States has shown that music can help care for the elderly. In many cases terminally ill patients found comfort in songs about love, life and embracing death, whilst in other situations the able bodied elderly are finding a new lease of life by playing instruments. Hospitals, care homes, district nurses and relatives do all they can to help care for elderly, and although care home equipment is available for the physical side of health care, music can help with the mental and emotional aspects of growing old.
Music has a resounding effect on people of all ages. It is after all the art of moving emotions and people can really connect with tunes they feel passionate about. It literally compels you to dance, sing, play or just chill out to. It is often said that music is medicine for the soul, but it is also a source of nostalgia and especially in senior citizen´s, it helps them to recover memories from their past. It shouldn´t come as a surprise then to find that using music to care for the elderly received positive responses.
It is not just that music therapy works for the elderly, it is the profound nature of the reaction in some old age patients that is the most heart warming. In one research program performed in a residential care home, it was found that many elderly people suffering with brain deterioration and memory loss were able to recollect moments of their past that they associated with the music.
But the most significant results were found in non-communicative patients singing along to performances and patients who don´t normally respond registering smiles on the faces. The researchers concluded that a connection with music is one of the last things to go. The positive results gathered from the research have seen a sharp rise in music therapy for elderly people in the United States and across Europe.
The Benefits of Music Therapy for the Elderly
Music therapy was not alone found to trigger memories and emotions in senior citizens, but also improved the awareness and concentration. Sitting around with a blanket over your legs all day only offers a certain degree of comfort and many old people shut down to escape from the reality of the material world and prefer to escape to the world of their imaginations. Life does not stimulate them like it used to when they were mobile.
Other positive aspects of the research found that music generated social interaction. Everybody loves a good old sing-along and for some of the older generation using their mouth is about all they have left to do. Among groups of retirement homes live performances played by people with instruments proved to be a number one hit.
The power of music can do weird and wonderful things to people their entire lives. Research showed that in the elderly music increased mobility and co-ordination as well as reduced tension, diminished pain and improved recovery times. The overall improvement of physical, emotional and spiritual well being of patients is because their day is made more enjoyable with music. For some it makes them feel young again!
Mankind has known about the positive effects of music therapy since ancient times, but other than being used to ease the suffering of injured soldiers laid up in military hospitals during World War 2, using music has been ignored by medical care institutions for the elderly until very recently. Now, there’s a generation dusting down their Gracie Fields, bebop and jive records.