Over 20% of adults aged 60 and above worldwide have a mental or neurological disorder, which indicates how rampant mental health problems are in older adults. The relationship between mental health and music is surprisingly strong. Some of the multiple benefits of music can significantly improve the mental health of those in their mature years and increase the quality of their golden years.
Reducing Symptoms of Mental and Cognitive Illness
Older adults are vulnerable to a variety of conditions such as depression and anxiety. Thankfully, music is a great coping mechanism that can reduce the symptoms of such illnesses, making treatment methods such as music therapy a viable way to treat and reduce them. For example, even in especially advanced cases of dementia in which executive function such as judgment and reasoning is impaired, patients’ response to music is preserved.
Surprisingly, musical perception, musical emotion, and musical memory tend to survive even long after other facets of cognitive function have been erased due to dementia. Even the simple act of putting on a familiar song can help a patient with memory loss issues connect memories of people and places, which is a huge step towards managing it. This is because musical memories tend to remain untouched by the effects of memory loss.
Acts as a Means of Communication
Social isolation is a concerning problem that unfortunately, many elderly individuals face. Music, whether you’re listening or playing, is a great tool for older adults to connect with similar, like-minded people through a common interest or hobby. Furthermore, music is a language of its own, giving those coping with mental health problems the capacity to safely express their feelings in a relaxed, informal environment. Beyond being a means of expression, music also promotes interconnection and stronger communication with caregivers and other similar individuals, hence making group music therapy a great option for individuals with mental illness that thrive in group environments.
Acts as a Mood Booster
Music is a mood booster that can regulate your emotional state, mitigating negative emotions and enhancing positive emotions. In fact, even sad music has been shown to lift people’s spirits and reduce feelings of stress and agitation. This makes music a low-risk and effective method to reduce depression and anxiety, improving mood and self-esteem. In turn, music also indirectly improves one’s quality of life in their golden years, making it a great form of support for one’s emotional and mental health.
Improves Physical Health
Whether it’s a walking, gardening, dancing, or yoga session, it’s always better with some music playing in the background. Music can increase an older adult’s motivation to engage in physical movement, encouraging them to participate in physical activity. Music, especially playing instruments, stimulates the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls movement. Thus, it helps your body to execute repetitive movements more efficiently, which is a huge advantage for endurance exercise, also known as aerobic exercise.