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10 Benefits of Listening to Music for the Aging Brain

No matter how gracefully we age, there are always those little moments where, no matter if our lives depended on it, we wouldn't be able to find our car keys. Getting older is inevitable, but that doesn't mean our brains have to age with us. Here are ten reasons you should listen to music throughout your glory years!

10 Benefits of Listening to Music As We Age

     1. Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Senior woman listening to music with headphones-1Researchers at John Hopkins have found that listening to newer music as opposed to songs from our heyday challenges the brain in a healthy way. Branching out in your music tastes gives your brain good practice in understanding, deciphering, and analyzing unrecognized songs, which does wonders for kickstarting creativity and maybe even serving as new, unique inspiration.

     2. Improve Your Memory Creation

A study published by Frontiers in Psychology has found that practicing musical improvisation improves the brain's ability to create new memories. While this isn't exactly listening to music, it's easy enough to whistle a little tune of your own if it means being able to keep your memory sharp!

Are you interested in learning how to play a new instrument? Check out our blogs on reasons to learn an instrument in retirement, which instruments to learn, and the best resources to learn an instrument online

     3. Improve Your Memory Recall

older woman listening to music with over the ear headphonesThe same Frontiers in Psychology article also found that those who listen to music regularly throughout their lives have much better neutral visual memory. This basically means that you can more easily conjure up visual memories in your mind. This is particularly helpful because episodic memory (aka your visual memory) is the most affected by aging. On top of this benefit, there's also evidence to support that music aids in overall brain functions, fluency, working memory, and recognition memory as well. So it's definitely worth a jam session every once in a while.

     4. Save Yourself Some Pain

There have been quite a few studies over the years that indicate listening to music on a regular basis can actually reduce pain levels in both isolated incidents (such as stubbing a toe or scraping a knee) as well as for chronic pain. We know what you're thinking, but there's a real reason as to why this works. Listening to music has been known to increase dopamine levels in the brain as well as distract the patients from the pain they're currently feeling. If that's not a reason to reach for some soul tunes, we don't know what is.

     5. De-Stress & Perk Up

Like the aforementioned dopamine release, music is also known to reduce cortisol levels in your body (the stress hormone) and reduce anxiety and relieve symptoms of depression. This basically improves your entire quality of life and could lead to many social, mental, and physical benefits in the long run.

     6. Find Your Balance

Older man dancing to music with headphones

Part of the improved brain flow and increased cognitive cohesion include improving your balance. You read that right! Listening to music can actually improve your balance! Keeping your brain active, engaged, and at peak function can really help out your cerebellum! Just imagine what kind of a difference dance practice can make (it's a lot). Who doesn't need a little more stability in their lives?

     7. Finding Your Social Side

Listening to music can have a significant impact on your social life. Whether it be from the decrease in anxiety, the reduction of depression symptoms, or just the friends you happen to make while jamming out to your favorite tracks, music undoubtedly gets you one step closer to being a social butterfly. Sharing common experiences through music is also an incredible way to get closer to the friends you already have!

Try a one-song party. Everyone picks one song to play at a gathering, and then you take turns listening to them together. Then discuss what the songs remind you of!

     8. Give Your Immune System A Boost

There are plenty of aspects of listening to music that result in a boost to your immune system. For one, the decrease in cortisol takes a lot of pressure off of your immune system. In addition, playing and listening to music also increases the body's production of killer cells and antibody immunoglobulin A. Both the antibodies and the killer cells boost the immune system by killing virus cells and fortifying the body!

     9. Music & Dementia

Vinyl record on shelf Music is a powerful tool in helping dementia patients retain some memories even in the late stages of the disease. This has to do with music's ability to trigger memories related to the song or the emotions you feel when listening to the song.

The phenomenon itself is called state-dependent memory. It's the reason you've probably heard "chew the same gum on test days as you did while studying." It's basically a memory jump start and can be easily practiced with any song, location, smell, feeling, or taste.

Listening to music has also been known to reduce agitation and anxiety for people with dementia, which helps create a more calm, healing environment for both the patients and their families.

Click here to learn more about how to identify signs of dementia in a loved one

     10. Relearn The Basics

Listening to music has been proven to help stroke victims, and Parkinson's patients relearn basic skills such as walking and talking. Singing especially has been used to help stroke survivors relearn how to speak again.

 

Have you noticed any benefits of listening to music? If so, please leave a comment below about it for fellow readers!

Are you not sure where to find great music? Check out our blog post, 6 Music Streaming Services to Listen to Your (New) Favorite Songs!

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Looking for more? Subscribe to our blog to get the latest news on senior livingWant to read more? The articles listed below are where most of the aforementioned data comes from, so don't be afraid to take a deeper dive into the studies!