The healing rhythms of music resonate with older people

The healing rhythms of music resonate with older people

summary: A new study has revealed that almost all older people find music more than just entertainment, with significant health-related benefits such as stress relief, improved mood and increased energy. The study highlights the crucial role of music in improving the quality of life for people aged 50 to 80, with 98% reporting at least one health benefit from engaging with music.

This comprehensive survey underscores the potential of music as a therapeutic tool, with 41% of respondents considering music very important to their well-being. The findings also suggest that music can enhance social connections and support healthy aging, indicating its underutilized potential in healthcare settings.

Key facts:

  1. 65% of older people report that music helps improve their mental health or mood, and 60% of them feel energized and motivated because of it.
  2. The survey indicates a universal appreciation for music across various demographic groups, with notable participation in making and listening to music.
  3. Music’s association with positive health outcomes such as lower blood pressure and relief from depression indicates its value in health care and wellness strategies.

source: University of Michigan

Whether it’s singing in a choir, playing the piano in the living room, joining in the carols at church, or just whistling to the radio, a new survey has found that almost all seniors say music brings them much more than just entertainment.

Three-quarters of people ages 50 to 80 say music helps them relieve stress or relax, and 65% say it helps their mental health or mood, according to new results of the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging. Meanwhile, 60% say music motivates or motivates them.

These are just a few of the health-related benefits cited by older adults who answered questions about listening to and making music of all kinds.

Almost all (98%) said they benefited in at least one health-related way from engaging with music. Additionally, 41% say music is very important to them, while 48% say it is somewhat important.

“Music has the power to bring joy and meaning to life. It is woven into the fabric of existence for all of humanity,” said Joel Howell, MD, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who worked with the survey team.

He adds that music also has tangible effects on a variety of health-related ailments. “We know that music is linked to positive effects on measures from blood pressure to depression.”

The survey was conducted at the UM Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation and supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center.

The survey team asked a national sample of adults ages 50 to 80 about their experiences and feelings about listening to and making music.

Many older adults report that they make music with other people at least sometimes, whether by singing or playing an instrument. Overall, 8% said they had sung in a choir or other organized group at least several times in the past year. About 8% of all seniors said they play an instrument with other people at least sometimes.

Overall, 46% of seniors reported singing at least a few times a week, and 17% said they played an instrument at least a few times a year.

Most survey respondents reported listening to music, with 85% saying they listened to it at least several times a week, 80% saying they watched music performances on TV or the Internet at least several times in the past year, and 41% saying they attended music shows Live in person at least several times in the past year. This latter percentage was higher among those with higher incomes and higher education.

The survey shows other differences between groups in music listening habits and their health effects.

Those who said their physical health was good or poor, and those who said they often felt isolated, were less likely to listen to music every day. Black older adults were more likely than others to have sung in a choir in the past year, and Black and Latino older adults were more likely to say music is very important to them.

“Although music doesn’t appear often in seniors’ visits with their usual caregivers, it probably should,” said survey director Jeffrey Colgren, MD, MPH, MS.

“The power of music to connect us, improve mood and energy, or even relieve pain (as 7% of survey respondents said it did for them), means it can be a powerful tool.” Colgren is a primary care physician at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and an associate professor of internal medicine at UM.

Howell points out that music helps people stay connected to each other throughout their lives. In fact, 19% of survey respondents said that music is more important to them now than it was in their youth, and 46% said it is no less important to them now than it was before.

With growing concern about the health effects of loneliness and social isolation among Americans overall, and especially among older adults, the power of music to connect people and support healthy aging should not be underestimated, Howell says. NPHA has previously reported on trends in loneliness and social isolation in older adults.

“Music is a universal language that has powerful potential to improve well-being,” said Sarah Lenz Locke, senior vice president for policy and brain health at AARP and executive director of the Global Brain Health Council.

“Research by AARP shows that music can play an important role in healthy aging by improving our mood, enhancing social connections, and potentially enriching our brain health.”

The AARP website contains resources, research, and information about the potential benefits of music, including its effect on the brain, memories, and overall health.

The survey report is based on the results of a nationally representative survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for IHPI and conducted online and by telephone in July and August 2023 among 2,657 adults ages 50 to 80. The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect the United States. population.

About music news, aging and health research

author: Kara Gavin
source: University of Michigan
communication: Kara Gavin – University of Michigan
picture: Image credited to Neuroscience News

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