Scientific researchers and music therapy professionals across the globe are continuing to discover how listening to music positively affects cognitive, physical and emotional health, and social well-being. In the “Alive Inside” film, educator and social worker Dan Cohen worked with renowned neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks to capture the transformation of nursing home patients who are given iPods with a playlist of music from their youth.
"I regard music therapy as a tool of great power in many neurological disorders – Parkinson's and Alzheimer's – because of its unique capacity to organize or reorganize cerebral function when it has been damaged," said Dr. Sacks.In the film, nearly comatose patients become animated by the music and even engage in dialogue.
Following are some ways music positively impacts the health of seniors and others:
· Decreases anxiety and soothes pain. A 2011 report of cancer patients shows that musical interventions calm patients from operating rooms to family clinics. Dentists and doctors report that patients who listen to mellow music before, during and after surgery and medical procedures report less pain and anxiety and require less sedative medication.
· Reduces stress. A comprehensive review of 400 research papers on music’s neurochemistry found that music reduces stress levels. Listening to and playing music significantly lowers the stress hormone cortisol, which also is known for weight gain.
· Lowers blood pressure and boosts heart health. Listening to joyful music helps blood flow through blood vessels. In a University of Maryland Medical Center study, the diameter of blood vessels expanded by 26 percent when a person listened to happy music and constricted by 6 percent when a person listened to anxiety-triggering music.
· Boosts the immune system. Music is shown to increase helpful antibodies, particularly immunoglobulin A, and supports cells that attack bacteria and germs invading the body.
· Lifts mood and decreases depression. Both singing and listening to music increase endorphins, which boost feelings of happiness and pleasure.
· Aids memory. Listening to music triggers the release of the brain’s neurotransmitter, dopamine, which aids cognition, voluntary movement, working memory and sleep. Stanford University researchers conducted brain scans that showed classical music helps the mind sharpen focus and sort information. Spontaneous singing along to music engages the brain’s prefrontal cortex that is responsible for creative thoughts.
· Assists the aging brain. A 2011 study in the journal Neuropsychology reports that University of Kansas Medical Center researchers discovered people with the most musical training in their lives exhibited the best mental sharpness and scored higher on brain function tests.
“People respond differently to music, so to garner its positive effects, they should listen to music they like,” said Charles Williams, President and General Manager of Right at Home Ann Arbor. Right at Home is a leading provider of professional in-home care for seniors and other adults.
“Whether it’s classical, country, ragtime or rock ‘n’ roll, music can help aging loved ones recover from illness or injury, improve their mood and recall past events,” said Williams. “The benefits to seniors are as numerous as the types of music!”
About Right at Home
Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home care and companionship and assistance to seniors and disabled adults who want to continue to live independently. Local Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff, each of whom is thoroughly screened, trained, bonded and insured prior to entering a client’s home. Right at Home’s global office is based in Omaha, Nebraska, with franchise offices located in 42 states nationwide and throughout the world. For more information on Right at Home, read the Right at Home caregiving blog at http://www.rightathome.net/
About Right at Home of Ann Arbor
The Ann Arbor Michigan office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, Inc., providing in-home care to the communities of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Belleville, Plymouth, Chelsea, Dearborn, Canton, Dexter, and beyond. For more information, contact Right at Home of Ann Arbor at http://www.rightathome.net/