As we get older, our body, that reliable servant for so many years, may begin to betray us. But the healing power of music can transport us out of a limited world into an limitless one of feeling, memory, and imagination. Music is a wonderful way of connecting with loved ones with dementia conditions and may even provide the motivation to get up and dance! There are as many beloved pieces of music as there are seniors, but here are our playlists of music for seniors that connect with the decade they were born.
Why music is so beneficial to seniors
Music is an important part of almost all cultures and traditions, and has a wonderful effect of transporting us emotionally through our memories. For seniors, music has wonderful health benefits, including:
- Creating a connection with others, helping to alleviate loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
- Exercising the brain by giving the connections between pattern recognition, memory, and logic a workout.
- Stimulating recollections, as music is stored in a different area of the brain to speech, helping people to visualize themselves in a particular place and time.
- Physical exercise through dancing, practicing a rhythm, or keeping someone motivated and focused through an exercise routine.
- Creating peace and comfort, soothing the mind and body, and creating a sense of wellbeing. Music can even help reduce pain and improve healing in those recovering from illness or surgery and can ease the mind during the last stages of life.
The children of the 30’s came up during the great depression, an experience that most never forget. But in the post WWII era, they were comforted by the sounds of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and jazz greats like Bird, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, Ella Fitzgerald, and a young Miles Davis.
Those born in the 40’s came of age in the 50’s and 60’s and had the rare privilege of witnessing the birth of rock ‘n roll and a peace movement that inspired some of the world’s most enduring poetry. This is the age of the great Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell.
Children of the 50’s started dancing in the 70’s – the golden age of rock and roll. Think Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, The Allman Brothers and so many more. And let’s not forget Disco which yielded the anthem…”Stayin’ alive, Stayin’ alive”!
Few generations had music as memorable as children of the 60’s, who experienced the best of the 70s as well as the new wave of the 80’s rock and the rise of hair bands! There was Michael Jackson and Prince, but also a Flock of Seagulls, the Clash, and the birth of heavy metal and punk.
Regardless of when you were born, classical music is, well, classic! It never gets old, and for some it never fails to excite, calm, and transform. You don’t have to be a musician to feel the power of great classical compositions and performances such as Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, Handel’s Messiah, Straus’s Blue Danube, Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and Puccini’s Tosca.
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At-home care for the elderly is a great middle-ground between independent seniors who want to stay at home and a move into assisted living. These services, provided by United Methodist Communities’s HomeWorks program, deliver the additional assistance seniors need to stay healthy and lead a fulfilling life in the comfort of their own home and community.
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This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/homeworks/blog/the-healing-power-of-music/