Music is therapeutic in several ways. Depending on the type, it can ease symptoms of dementia, anxiety, lethargy, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, and Parkinson’s disease. Here’s how music can boost your senior loved one’s wellbeing.
Baroque Music Energizes
If your loved one is lethargic, play baroque music. Resembling classical music, this genre sparks creativity, elevates mood, and speeds the completion of tedious work. You’ll find lovely baroque compositions on YouTube. Look for pieces by Bach, Handel, Monteverdi, Purcell, and Corelli. Buoyant music stimulates the nervous system, revving circulation. As a result, your loved one becomes alert and motivated.
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Classical Pieces Hone Intellect
Classical music coordinates nerve signals between brain regions, aiding focus, perception, thinking, and recall. To enhance your loved one’s mental acuity, play music by classical composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin.
Favorite songs evoke happy memories. Linked to daily activities, they can spur remembrance of how to do tasks. Even with dementia, music memory endures. For example, if your loved one formerly played music while making meals, repeating this habit may sustain his or her cooking skills.
Try to provide several options for hearing music. Keep the radio tuned to an oldies station. If your loved one has a computer, find his or her favorite music on YouTube and bookmark the videos. Also, buy CDs of your loved one’s preferred music, along with a CD player.
Marching Tunes Aid Mobility
Tunes with repeating patterns stimulate and coordinate muscle contractions. Marches, in particular, activate a brain pathway that regulates motion.
When marches are played for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD), the beats help them walk and speak better. Subconsciously, their bodies align with the rhythm, serving as cues to move. Hearing the beats also prevents muscle freezing. According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, hand tapping to rhythmic music enhances speech clarity.
For a senior loved one with PD, also play classical music. This genre enhances utilization of dopamine and serotonin, brain chemicals depleted by PD. A 2015 Finnish study found classical music enhances the effect of genes involved with metabolizing dopamine. As a result, learning and memory increase.
Singing tones the muscles used in breathing, swallowing, and speech. It also sustains voice strength and enhances posture. Therefore, this pastime is helpful for seniors with PD. These are the findings of a 2017 study by Iowa State University.
Cheery Music Soothes Pain
A 2014 Danish study found music tones down chronic pain, with lingering relief. The research involved 22 people with fibromyalgia, a debilitating condition of persistent muscle and joint aches. When the subjects listened to their preferred music, their pain became less discomforting. The analgesic effect was strong enough to increase functional ability, even after the music stopped.
Delightful tunes produce pain-relieving chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin. Therefore, favorite melodies can potentially decrease the reliance on pain medication.
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Instrumental Melodies Calm
Soft, slow music induces relaxation. Especially soothing are instrumental music and acoustic compositions that include light piano, flute, or guitar.
Play gentle music in the background to ease tasks that are difficult for your loved one. For example, you might tune the radio to relaxing instrumentals at bath time. To a doctor’s appointment, bring an MP3 player loaded with tranquil melodies. Your loved one can listen to the device with attached headphones. To aid falling asleep, play peaceful music just before bedtime.
Cherished Songs Bring Joy
Favorite tunes trigger happy memories. For a loved one with dementia, recalling good times heightens mood and restores a sense of identity. Hearing preferred music also releases brain chemicals that prompt happiness.
To increase your loved one’s enjoyment of holidays, play themed music from his or her youth. For a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, favorite music can ease agitation, anxiety, and aggression.
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