At the tender age of 14, Michael Jackson sang, “There have been others, but never two lovers like music and me.” Recent research suggests that he may have been on to something.
Some say that laughter is the best medicine. Music may heal the soul and much, much more. The effects are even more valuable as we age, and the benefits of music technology for seniors are becoming increasingly clear.
What was the first song you slow danced to? Did your heart race when you first heard “Moon River”?
A study by the University of Maryland shows that music has a positive effect on blood vessel function. Music not only increases blood flow, but also makes people happier and less anxious. Music also lowers blood pressure. These benefits help whether seniors live alone, with families or in assisted living.
When someone goes under the knife, your first thought is hardly to bring them their favorite music. But you should! According to a study by the University of Kentucky, listening to music before surgery reduces pain. Listening to music after surgery helped improve recovery times. So the next time you visit a senior or a loved one in post-op, forget the flowers. Grab a song and come along; bring them their best-loved tunes instead.
We all know many seniors who suffer from chronic conditions like heart disease. Diagnosis of a chronic disease can be devastating and the recovery long. But music can play a critical role in keeping you sharp throughout the ordeal. Scientists at the University of Helsinki found that music helped stroke patients regain visual awareness faster. The same study found that listening to music on a daily basis helped improve patients’ memories. Another study at the University of Texas discovered that music therapy helped cancer patients, too. Music encouraged communication, eased physical pain, and helped manage stress.
You may not think of music as part of a chronic disease management program. It plays a critical role, even for mental health patients. Interacting with music expands the reach of music in your healthy life. Sing your own melody, play an instrument, or use smart phone apps that engage users with music. These can improve your mind while enhancing your mood.
Now that you know the salubrious effects of more music in yours and others’ lives, how can you get more of what you love? Many new apps provide novel and innovative ways to “find a world of sweet harmony” well into your dotage. All you need is a smartphone or tablet PC.
SingFit is like a karaoke app in your pocket. Sing along with your favorite songs, or ask a loved one to sing for you! If you’re looking for a fun app for a senior in assisted living, SingFit PRIME provides group singing lessons to residents. It helps even those with severe dementia.
Omvana is an interactive app containing countless music tracks. You can tailor these tracks with thousands of sounds and even quotes. There are also downloadable tracks which are professionally created to help you meditate. Omvana is perfect for those who love music that helps them relax.
Singing Fingers is an app that lets you record “sound-drawings.” Sound-drawings are made when you drag your finger across your mobile phone screen and sing. The pitch of the sound you make translates into the color. With Singing Fingers, you can be a singing artist in one fell swoop!
Magic Piano allows you to ‘play’ popular songs by tapping the glowing buttons in sequence. Play the songs you love: perfectly, effortlessly, and without any lessons. Music Sparkles contains 14 instruments for you to play, including the guitar, ukulele, and harp. For those with dreams of being a musician, it’s never too late!
According to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, practicing a musical instrument has therapeutic effects on your memory and cognitive function. Some Alzheimer’s-specific apps are made to use music as a therapeutic regimen:
Music Therapy: Eldercare and MusicFirst: Alzheimer’s apps contain music therapy programs for the memory-impaired. Music Therapy: Eldercare focuses on emphasizing specific activities, places, and mental states. Music First works on minimizing the effects of Sundown Syndrome, a type of anxiety and agitation that occurs after ‘sundown.’
Trivia Tunes is another music-oriented app designed to help improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients. Trivia Tunes consists of many music quizzes that ask for you to “Name that Tune.” This app is great for parties and among friends. There’s also a social aspect to Trivia Tunes: you can play against others worldwide.
Your music exploration will take you and your loved ones to magical places. This verse from the late Michael Jackson sums it all up best: “We’ve been together for such a long time now, music, music and me. Don’t care whether all our songs rhyme now, music, music and me.”
Here’s to music and the senior in your life!Back To Top
Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.