We might all listen to very different kinds of music, but research has shown that listening to, performing, and enjoying music in any of its myriad of forms, keeps the brain engaged in the aging process. It is a workout for the brain in a way that’s similar to physical activity being a workout for the body. Not only does it engage multiple areas of the brain, music can be used to reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, elevate mood, and stimulate memory.
Looking for some fun ways to get more music into your aging parent’s life? The possibilities are endless, even during the current state of the world where live concerts are much more few and far between than they used to be.
- Go to a concert. Yes, we just said that concerts are few and far between and at this point, no one is meeting with hundreds of others inside orchestra halls to listen to a concert but as the weather warms up, you can look for smaller concerts that will pop up. It might be a string quartet in a local garden or a guitarist playing at an outside event. Look for these types of activities that provide safe and enjoyable engagement with live music. Your elder care provider can help with transportation if needed and might even enjoy joining your parent at these mini concerts.
- Watch a musical. Help your parent find a good musical on a streaming channel or using her DVD player. She can choose something that evokes good memories from long ago or find a new musical that is nothing like she’s ever watched before. New music can challenge a brain in a way it hasn’t been challenged before, forcing the listener to find the musical notes in new and unique ways.
- Have a sing-along. If your parent is still no longer able to gather with extended family, arrange for a Zoom sing-along where each person gets to pick their favorite song to have everyone sing along with. Adding stories to why the songs were picked, builds connections, and might introduce your parent into some new music that she has never had the chance to experience yet.
- Pick up an instrument. Even if your parent hasn’t played the piano in 20 years, sitting down in front of one may bring up great memories and create some stimulation in parts of her brain that haven’t been used in decades. Your parent can also learn a new instrument! Find a used instrument at a second-hand store or online and let your parent start to practice something completely different. YouTube has tons of instructional videos for just about every instrument out there. Having your elder care provider help your parent find the right video (or purchase a book) will increase brain sharpness by having to learn a completely new skill.
As your parent plays around with different types of music, have her focus on what makes her feel good, what creates more stress, and what is relaxing. Music affects different people in a variety of ways so helping her find the music that creates the most positive experience will keep her coming back for more.
If you are considering elder care in Pavilion, MI, for an aging loved one, please call the caring staff at Fresh Perspective Home Care at (269) 329-4717. We are here to help!