If it hasn’t started already, it soon will. Christmas songs and carols will flood your auditory senses in the coming weeks leading up to the holidays. And while for some, the onslaught will be overwhelming, for many older adults, traditional holiday tunes will bring back warm and cherished memories.
We know that music can elevate mood, reduce stress and unlock memories for those with dementia. But singing as part of choir can also have not only emotional and psychological benefits but studies have found regular rehearsals can help boost the body’s immune system. Being included in a social activity like singing with a choir has been used as therapy for older adults to improve their quality of life, reduce anxiety, improve memory and ease pain.
A recent study from Drexel University in Philadelphia found that cancer patients who participated in music therapy enjoyed a significant drop in anxiety and pain as well as a lessening of fatigue and lowering of blood pressure.
And if all that isn’t enough to get you singing in the shower at the very least, musical training stimulates the brain in a complex way that results in both structural and functional changes in the brain. Music training as part of stroke recovery therapy has been found to improve speech and memory. According to John Hopkins Medical, music stimulates the brain and older adults who learn an instrument can improve attention, memory and problem-solving while lifting their mood and enjoying a better quality of life.
Instead of another book, scarf or pair of gloves, why not give grandpa the gift of music with a month of piano lessons this holiday season?