Music is processed in many different areas of the brain and has the power to create strong emotional and physical responses within us. Moderate noise level (peaceful music) can increase creativity. Music training is associated with improved motor and reasoning skills, vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills. Classical music can improve visual attention. Music helps us exercise by overriding signals of fatigue in the brain.
Music choices have been linked to personality traits. In one study five traits, including openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability were used for testing. Among the results they found:
- Jazz, and Classical fans have high self-esteem, are creative and at ease.
- Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle.
- Dance fans are creative and outgoing.
- Rock fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not outgoing, hardworking, gentle or at ease.
- Country fans are hardworking and outgoing;
- Soul and Blues fans seem to have all five personality traits.
In 2014, social worker Dan Cohen, through his nonprofit organization Music & Memory, provided dementia patients with music. Cohen advocates the use of music as an alternative to isolation and depression.
“Music is freedom” one patient stated after listening to the songs of his youth; others smiled, laughed, and danced in their seats. The documentary film “Alive Inside” follows Cohen’s efforts to supply institutionalized individuals with dementia with iPod, earphones, and a playlist of favorite tunes. (It can be found on Netflix or purchased on Amazon).
At the Aspen Senior Center, we use music everyday to enrich our clients’ daily experience while they’re here. Our clients love to sing along with the songs of their youth. Even some clients who speak very little perk up and hum and swing their hands to the melody. Music is a wonderful tool to lift and comfort.
Although listening to music is not a cure for dementia, music therapy has been shown to help millions suffering from dementia, depression, and loneliness. It can relieve boredom, empower choice, enable memory, and provide avenues for genuine communication with loved ones and caregivers.
Utah County has a Music & Memory program that is available to seniors living with dementia or other chronic illnesses. Visit mountainland.org for information on how to access this amazing program.
Aspen Senior Center is dedicated to improving the lives of seniors in our community! We do this by providing a quality day center program, and helping seniors and their families connect with support groups, health services and other resources in the community. If you are in need of assistance or have any questions, please give us a call at 801-607-2300 or visit our website at aspenseniorcenter.org.