Music to my ears!
December 27, 2015
That's music to my ears. It's a phrase we utter often – and with glee. That's because music is such a major part of our lives: we listen to it at weddings, at funerals and everything in between.
Whether you hum along with tunes while driving, tap your feet to the beat on your IPod while relaxing or croon in the shower, it evokes powerful emotions and memories.
Music enhances our lives in many ways. Studies conducted by Emory University reveal that it is a cognitive exercise which makes our brains fitter and more able to handle the challenges of aging (Good news, right?).
Northwestern University researchers discovered listening to music improves the ability to perceive speech in a noisy environment (a challenge as age-related hearing impairment occurs).
The Alzheimer's Foundation of America has long recognized the power of music. "When used appropriately, music can shift mood, manage stress-induced agitation, stimulate positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function, and coordinate motor movements," the organization's website explains. "As dementia progresses, individuals typically lose ability to share thoughts and gestures of affection with loved ones. However, they retain their ability to move with the beat until very late in the disease process."
What's the best way use music to help those with Alzheimer's? The foundation offers these suggestions: If the disease is in its early stages, go out dancing or listen to beloved music from the past. Those in the middle stages of the disease can listen to music while walking to improve balance or gait or use background music to enhance moods. During later stages, try sing-alongs with tunes sung by rote or play soothing music to provide comfort.
The South Florida band PinkSlip plays for three assisted living centers and the VA hospital's residential unit. "Often those not clapping along seem to be 'out of it,' but then I see a foot tapping or fingers patting a knee to the time of the music or an effort to mouth the words, sometimes remembering lyrics better than we do," explains singer Joan Friedenberg. "We always play 'Sweet Caroline' for seniors because they like it and because it has a built-in exercise component that they enjoy — swaying their hands in the air when we sing 'hands touching hands.'"
At one performance, as the group started playing "Let It Be Me," by The Everly Brothers, a woman jumped up and pulled her husband to the dance floor and they were singing the lyrics to each other.
Music therapist Amy Goyer also knows firsthand how music helps seniors. She suggests caregivers infuse music into their loved ones' lives (she often does that with her father). Here are some tips she shared in an AARP article:
* Keep a CD player in a place where a loved one likes to sit so they can listen to their favorite tunes.
* Keep a DVD library. Tape musicals and watch them with your loved ones. The plots are easy to follow and it's fun to sing along ((try Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Sound of Music and Oklahoma).
* When out for a walk, turn the experience into a musical adventure. (Physical activity and music are a golden combination for brain stimulation). Sometimes a walk will spark a memory – and a song.
Let's face it as we get older, it's important to have things in our life that help keep us happy. Make music part of your loved ones' plan for happiness and well-being. Another suggestion: are personal medical alert systems
, which can help loved ones 24/7.
And that should be music to your ears.