The benefits of music, and music therapy, have become much more commonly known and so many people are adding music therapy into their healthcare routines (in addition to any other medical or drug regimens they have been prescribed).
Music is a universal thing that everyone can relate to – no matter what kind of music you like to listen to or how old you are.
If your older loved one is missing out on listening to music they love because it’s just not available or they aren’t familiar with their options, here are a few ways to get the older adult in your life back into listening to music (and hopefully they can receive the benefits of it in their life).
With COVID, the ability to go to concerts really dwindled – especially for seniors who would be considered part of an exceptionally vulnerable population.
Now that venues and events are starting up again, you may be able to find events that you can take your parents or grandparents to that they might enjoy. During the summer months, there could be outdoor summer events where people can properly socially distance from each other but yet still enjoy the musicians performing. But please take precautions as older people are at more risk during this hot weather.
Additionally, holiday concerts will be starting up soon so this might also be an opportunity to take your loved one to an event with music they will enjoy.
If your senior loved one lives in a long-term care facility, they will often also have events that your family member can participate in where they bring musicians onsite or they will arrange transportation for residents to attend an event.
Create a Playlist for Them
Your loved one may not be familiar with the technologies available today to listen to music. There are various platforms available for people to listen to the music they love: from subscription-based platforms to ones where you purchase songs individually or entire albums.
Your loved one might want to have a way to listen to an entire album or they might only like certain songs.
You can create an account for them on a subscription-based application, and you can compile they music you know they like. Some platforms will give you suggestions based on music you added to playlists so the list is filled with similar music.
The downside to this might be that your loved one doesn’t have a device to play the music on, so you will need to find a way to get that to them.
Many devices – like an old phone or a music player – are available for listening to music on. You could also get them a pair of headphones so they can listen to their music without disturbing other residents (in case they don’t want to listen along).
You may need to take some time to sit down and go through the device you have chosen for your loved one because they might not know how to use it. They may have a little difficulty at first because it’s just something they are not used to using. If they are living in a long-term care facility, you might want to check with them that you can bring something in for them to listen to music on.
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Play Music When They Visit You
When your loved one comes to visit you – either for a day or multiple days at a time – having music play when they come to visit you can bring back some very happy memories for them. Instead of watching tv or movies, you can sit and listen to music and just enjoy the company of your family.
If anyone in your family knows how to play an instrument that is portable or you can perform with, you may want to include this when your parents or grandparents visit. A small, private concert with some of their favorite songs will give them a sense of comfort and create so many memories for all of you.
Finding ways to incorporate music into the life of your parents or grandparents can really boost their quality of life, and bring back memories for them. If you’ve never really considered the benefits of music in life (even yours), here’s what you need to know about how it can help.
Better Overall Mood
Music can drastically improve our mood no matter how we’re feeling, and that makes it incredibly beneficial for seniors and anyone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Those who have an illness like Alzheimer’s or dementia can often be in a physically agitated state because of the side effects of the illness. Since music can have a calming and soothing effect on almost everyone, this can be really beneficial for someone who is feeling agitated.
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Benefits of Playing Music for Your Senior Loved One
If the music being played is familiar to your loved one, it can bring back happy memories for them which will bring them to a much calmer state and reduce the amount of stress they have.
Increased Memory and Cognitive Function
There have been studies where they found that the processing speed in the brains of people over 69 years of age speeds up when they listen to classical music while performing tasks requiring moderate or advanced cognitive function.
Additionally, they found that their memory is drastically improved if they listen to music while performing a task that needs memory function as opposed to having nothing going on in the background.
You know how a hard workout just is that much easier to get through if you have a really good playlist to listen to? Having the right music to listen to can be a great motivator for getting things done.
If your loved one has a great playlist to listen to, they might be more motivated to get out and go for a walk or stay active in other ways. Music can want to make us get up and move, and activity is a great way to stay healthy – no matter how older we are.
Hearing one of our favourite songs can make us just want to get up and dance, or your parents might hear their wedding song and want to have a little dance in the kitchen.
No matter how it motivates you, music will make us want to get up and move and staying active is never going to be a bad thing for anyone’s life.
Bringing People Together
When you are at a concert, you are sharing the experience with thousands of other people who all like the same thing you do. Music has this ability to bond us in ways we never would have imagined.
People will naturally gather around music and listen to what is being played. If your loved one is living in a long-term care facility, attending an event where there is music being played gives them a chance to socialize with other people who are enjoying the same event they are. If they are going to do something like music therapy then they will be making music with other people and this experience will help them make friends and bond as well.
You know when you hear that song that just immediately makes you smile because of something that happened when you were listening to that song or where you were the first time you heard that song?
This experience is not unique: music has the ability to remind us of great memories and when we hear certain songs it will bring you back to those happy times. For this reason, music has had many positive effects on people who are living with depression as it’s an almost instant mood booster.
The right music (which will depend on the person) can bring us out of a bad mood or calm us down when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
Keeping things fun
When it’s just quiet and there’s nothing going on, it can seem like time stands still and it’s just so boring. Putting music on – even if it’s just for background noise – can make your day much more fun and go by quicker.
If you need to just sit down and relax, it can give you a way to focus on something else and just let your mind wind down.
Help with relaxation
You can get music specifically for helping you relax and even to help you meditate if that’s what you’re trying to do. There are some pre-made playlists you can find that are designed specifically for relaxing and meditation, including soft, soothing sounds meant to be played on a low volume.
Getting your senior loved one to listen to music can be challenging if they don’t have the technology to do so, or they just don’t have a platform to listen to the music they love on. With a little time and patience, you can bring back music into their life and give them those cherished, happy memories music can bring up for us.
Music therapy and attending concerns can really add a lot of happiness into your loved one’s life, so if you can get them tickets to events and spend time with them listening to the music these will be incredible memories they cherish forever. Learn more music activity ideas for seniors here.