Often we forget that the elderly can suffer from mental health conditions. We see them as an illness for the young, and not something that we end up having for the entirety of our lives. Loneliness and depression are very common in older people, and in this article, we want to talk to you about their mental health as well as how music can help them. You might find yourself surprised by how much it can offer.
Music and Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Both of these conditions are very similar, with Alzheimer’s actually being a form of dementia. They cause cognitive difficulties like memory loss and difficulty learning, as well as forgetting who you are entirely. While there is no cure for either of these, there are some ways in which music can help.
These conditions can cause outbursts of anger and aggression because even the smallest amount of stress results in the brain becoming panicked and lashing out. As music works by lowering the cortisol (stress hormones) levels in the body, it leaves you feeling more relaxed and peaceful over time – reducing stress, blood pressure, and heart rate all in one.
The activity of creating music together as a group can also help to increase social activity and conversation, exercising the mind and helping it to try and stay where it is instead of drifting off. In addition to this, having music playing gets everyone up and dancing, increasing physical activity as well as helping to boost mood and get people on their feet.
Music and Depression
Depression is primarily caused by an imbalance of serotonin in the brain, leading to poor moods and feelings of hopelessness as well as irritability. It can leave you feeling broken for long periods of time. When you listen to music, it increases the amount of serotonin produced by the brain while also lowering cortisol levels – leaving you feeling less stressed a lot more relaxed. It’s not a quick fix, but it can help to boost moods over time.
Music and Loneliness
The way in which this works together is by incorporating music therapy into your life. By selecting group therapy sessions, you can create music together, collaborate, share ideas, and just generally socialize. It creates a fun and relaxed environment, while also providing each person there with the chance to bond and make new friendships. It also exercises the mind, activating each side of the brain as you work creatively and socially with the others in the group.
Hopefully, this has helped you to see how music can impact mental health in older people, and the ways in which they are able to benefit from it. Music and its associated therapies are an interesting topic and one that is becoming more popular as more results are published. We have written a detailed and fully referenced article on the subject, so if you want to learn more, it is well worth giving it a quick read.