As a leader in the in-home care industry the toll loneliness and isolation can have on seniors is something we should be talking about. According to AARP Foundation Connect 2 Affect more than 8 million adults age 50 and older are affected by isolation. There is a 26% increased risk of early death due to subjective feeling of loneliness. If you stop and think about that, it is easy to grasp the gravity of this situation.
The question I asked our team at Stay Home Senior Services, Ins was ”How can we help to decrease loneliness and isolation for those in our community?” Our staff is already providing companionship to those seniors we serve in the community, but that didn’t feel like enough. In June 2019 Stay Home began a community outreach effort called the “Stay Home Singers”. Through this program we spread happiness through song at private homes, assisted living facilities and senior centers.
How can music benefit seniors?
Now more than ever we will hear about the benefits music can have on one’s health. The majority of research regarding music therapies in seniors has been focused on those with dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This research is dealing with music and memory.
According to the Mayo Clinic “Research suggests that listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.” This is because music has an intrinsic quality that is ingrained in all of us from birth. Rhythm, tone and pitch are used to communicate emotion from the moment we are born.
It has been shown to relieve stress, reduce anxiety and depression, reduce agitation, improve mode and decrease loneliness. ABC Science published a Youtube video titled Power of Music on the brain | Dementia & Parkinson’s which showcases the effects music can have on those who suffer from dementia. Music has been shown to reduce some symptoms of Alzheimer’s such as agitation. This video showcases the positive effects music can have on individuals with various forms of dementia, and then takes it one step further by discussing how. Now there are ways to monitor the effects music has on the brain allowing us to visually see different parts of the brain light us with activity when a person listens to a song.
How exactly does music promote social bonding and decrease loneliness?
Music is a universal language, and I believe that it can continue on even after language has gone. That is why music memories are shown to be of the last memories preserved in Alzheimer’s patients. It is something that we as a society value and celebrate. Music can bridge the gap between cultures, and allows people to communicate thoughts, feelings and emotions. It can bring people together and allow us to relate to others in a way unlike any other.
The act of listening to music has been shown to produce positive outcomes for many, but what does it do for those who are participating through song? In a German study focused on people signing in groups and determined that the levels of Oxycontin increased dramatically in those who were singing in a group. This was due to the fact that those signing together were building a bond. When people are bonding with others the brain releases the feel good hormone Oxycontin. That is a double dose of the feel good stuff! That is why Stay Home Signers was formed, to bring those who listen and participate with us a sense of joy and fellowship that will decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation so many of our seniors today face.
If you would like to bring happiness to others through the power of music and song, join us.To be a part of this wonderful group contact LouAnn Haw at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an audition.