For many people, the autumn years can be a time when you notice that you’re not as active or energetic, or as sharp as you used to be.
You may start to think that getting older means giving up on the things you used to enjoy. This can affect not only your mood, but also how you interact with others, including your friends and family. Some begin to isolate themselves, while others seemingly go through their day-to-day lives without a sense of purpose.
But this doesn’t have to be the case, not at all, especially if you have music in your life. And there is increasing evidence to show that music can help improve your life as you age. Not just to offer a richer quality of life with the joy of music. But studies show that music can work magic on your brain and mood.
Music is always there to cheer us up
Well, there is no age limit when it comes to enjoying music, whether as a listener or one who makes music. Music is always there to cheer us up, to put a little spring in our step, to give us moments of joy – and, as numerous research studies have indicated, to make our lives better as we age.
It’s true – music-rich activities offer a lot of benefits for older adults, especially those who suddenly find themselves with a lot of time in their hands. When you learn to play a musical instrument, watch a musical performance, or even form a band and write your own songs, you’re undertaking an activity that can benefit you physically, cognitively and mentally.
Here’s a look at how music can improve your life as you get older
Physical health benefits
Participating in musical activities like music lessons, dance classes, and music therapy classes can improve your physical health because it gets you moving. In these activities, you practice movement, hand-eye coordination, and because they’re fun, you’re also bound to develop a sense of good health and well-being.
We’ve already featured how dance has been used to improve mobility after a stroke. Dance music not only distracts the mind but also inspires people to keep going no matter how difficult their circumstances, so you get the idea.
And when you move with the music, you use not only your body, but your brain too.
Benefits to cognitive functioning
So how do music-based activities improve brain functions? Studies show that music has the capacity to enhance cognitive functions. Music activates and stimulates the brain extensively, engaging multiple regions including the temporal, parietal, cerebellar and limbic regions.
Music has the capacity to enhance cognitive functions
Learning to play the piano in old age, for example, has been found to improve performance on attention and executive tasks, and even enhance the mood and quality of life. Moreover, it helps keep the memory sharp.
In a nutshell, music keeps the brain active and functioning well, which helps in combating age-related cognitive decline. Music has also been described as a promising tool in the rehabilitation of neurological illnesses related with aging, such as stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Musical leisure activities, such as singing, playing and instrument, and even just listening to music supports neurological rehabilitation as well.
Mental health benefits
When we talk about mental health, we’re also talking about one’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Music has the power to uplift our mood and reduce stress, anxiety and agitation. This may lead to positive social behaviours and interaction.
Singing in a choir, playing in a band, or joining a group music class builds and strengthens social relationships and gives one a sense of belonging, which can uplift your sense of well-being. And when you play a musical instrument, you are able to express your emotions in a healthy and enjoyable manner.
Have some fun!
As you can see, music can bring back and even boost your vitality and improve your quality of life as you advance in years. By participating in music-rich activities, not only will you invite the zest back in your life, you’ll also be physically, cognitively and mentally healthier. You’ll find more reasons to move about, be creative, and interact with others.
So whenever you have the chance to engage in an activity that involves music, do so. Watch a musical, an orchestral concert or a live performance by your favourite band. You can find plenty of these online so you won’t even have to leave the safety of your home. Or how about challenging yourself to learn an instrument and write your own song? You can also check out new music artists and of course, dance away like nobody’s watching. Have fun!