Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. Plato
Do you love music? For many, music is a great pleasure that brings a sense of well being and happiness. Music can encourage a sense of calm and fight depression and stress. Music can be fun, or sad, or dramatic. It can remind you of a friend or whisk you back to a specific place and time. Music can make you make you feel.
You don’t have to be a scientist to know the value music brings to our lives. But there is a lot of scientific study about how music impacts us, and recently, studies on just how music might impact us as we age.
Research shows that memories of music are durable over years and can often remain intact, even in cases of dementia or advanced Alzheimer’s Disease when other memories are beyond reach.
A music professor, playing music in nursing homes saw how people who couldn’t finish a sentence or thought would suddenly harmonize and sing along to a song she was playing. This prompted a study, which found that for older adults who listened to some of their favorite music connectivity in the brain increased. Other studies have shown that all the amazing things music can do to our brains arise from music’s capacity to engage many areas of the brain in a coordinated fashion in real time.
The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) brought together a diverse panel of experts to examine all of these studies, gathering the latest evidence on how music influences brain health. The panel concluded that listening and making music holds significant potential to support brain health as people age.
They released some recommendations for men and women 50+ – ways to use music to promote mental well-being, increase social connection, and stimulate thinking skills.
Incorporate music in your life. Music may improve well-being including quality of life. Listening to music provides a resource for enjoyment and entertainment, especially when shared with family and loved ones.
Dance, sing or move to music. These activities not only provide physical exercise, but they can also relieve stress, build social connections, and are fun ways to stimulate your brain.
Enjoy listening to familiar music that comforts you and evokes positive memories andassociations.
But also try listening to new music. While listening to music that you know and like tends to cause the strongest brain response and dopamine release, unfamiliar melodies may stimulate your brain.
Make music yourself. Music making can include both singing and playing an instrument.
Listen to music to encourage yourself to exercise. Music can provide a mental boost and help motivate you to move your body, providing other health benefits.
I’m listening to music as I write this. While my parents were not music lovers, I somehow acquired a true love of music from my teen years on. I love live music and wish I could play an instrument. And while I have a terrible singing voice, I do love to sing. Hopefully this love of music will help my brain health as I grow older.
My advice to you – take a few minutes this weekend to listen to a favorite song, or try something new – you have perfect excuse – you’re helping your brain!
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications