Music can be described as the shorthand of emotion. For many, music is a vital part of life’s daily routine, starting with listening to the radio while driving, cooking in the kitchen, and exercising. For others, it forms part of their cultural identity and heritage. Music has also been found to influence our wellbeing and mindset strongly1.
Music is powerful and can have a variety of health benefits. As we age, we become more likely to suffer illnesses. Majority of adults over the age of 65 suffer from at least one condition and can experience various changes to their physical, mental, and emotional well-being as a result. Music can evoke memories and emotions and take us back in time. The presence of music in the life of many senior Australians has helped restore and maintain their health and assisted them in recalling memories and fighting depression1.
According to the Australian Music Therapy Association, using music as a form of therapy can promote wellbeing in many areas1, including:
Cognitive skills: Music can help ageing Australians process their thoughts and maintain memories. Many people associate music with events or time periods in their lives, with specific songs or music pieces triggering memories years after an event. Music from childhood or young adulthood has even been effective in generating a positive response in seniors who have dementia, even if the individual has difficulty communicating.
Speech skills: Music can help slow deteriorating speech and language skills by assisting seniors in answering questions, making decisions, and speaking more clearly. Studies have shown that those who have Alzheimer’s Disease can recognise and hum along to their favourite song.
Physical Skills: It’s hard to listen to music and not instinctively tap your foot to the beat or hum along to the melody. Many people associate music with dancing, this act of movement can improve coordination and promote endurance in activities like walking.
Social Skills: The use of music in conjunction with the benefits mentioned above encourages bonding with others including caregivers, which can help alleviate low mood and a feeling of loneliness.
In alignment with these findings, LDK offers classes such as ‘Dance for Dementia’. This class runs for hour-long sessions where small groups of residents living with dementia come along with carers and enjoy the music from their past while going through a range of physical motions designed to create a fun environment and promote physical health while music plays in the background. The improvements to physical and mental health due to music therapy is a well-researched phenomenon2 which the LDK team have seen firsthand. The smiles on the faces of those in attendance are a shining example of just how beneficial music is to everyday life.