The Health Benefits Of Singing For Seniors
Ella Fitzgerald once said, “The only thing better than singing is more singing.” She was a legendary, award-winning vocalist with an incredible range, but singing does not need to be technically perfect (or even on key!) to offer great benefits. In addition to being a powerful creative outlet, studies show that singing can improve neurological health and help fight depression and anxiety. Singing is particularly beneficial for seniors, particularly those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
Cognitive Decline in Seniors
Throughout the aging process, the brain undergoes a series of natural changes. These changes can vary significantly from one person to the next. For some, the parts of the brain responsible for learning and memory shrink, and communication between neurons begins to lose its effectiveness. It is also not uncommon to experience a reduction in blood flow to the brain. These changes can result in an impairment in working memory, historical memory, speech and decision making and can also cause changes in impulsivity and aggression. These changes can also accelerate cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Being proactive when it comes to brain health can lead to a longer and more fulfilling life.
The Impact of Singing on The Brain
Think of singing as a completely natural therapy for brain health. When a person opens his or her mouth and begins to sing, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released throughout the body, resulting in an instant lift in mood. At the same time, the neural networks for memory, speech and language, listening, learning and movement are all activated. This boost to neural activity is akin to a weight lifting or cardio workout for the brain. Better still, singing does not require special equipment and can be performed pretty much anywhere. Here are just some of the psychological and physiological benefits of singing for people of all ages:
- Helps fight anxiety, stress and depression and immediately lifts mood.
- Creates social connections and helps fight feelings of isolation.
- Helps improve posture and leads to better breathing.
- Reduces incidences of aggression and agitation for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Increases self-confidence and improves interactions with others.
- Provides a boost to the immune system.
- Increases oxygen levels and strengthens the lungs and diaphragm.
- Improves sleep quality by increasing feelings of relaxation, as well as by strengthening throat and palate muscles which can minimize snoring and symptoms related to sleep apnea.
- Improves communication, even for those with speech difficulties.
- Provides an outlet for creative expression.
Adding More Song to Your Life
Often people are interested in singing, but are not sure how to begin. Singing can be enjoyed at any level of competency - no prior experience is required. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Sing along to the radio.
- Try singing in the shower.
- Use an online "learn to sing" app.
- Find free music lessons on YouTube.
- Sign up for private music lessons.
- Join friends for a karaoke event or use a free karaoke phone app.
- Look for local participatory singing events within your community.
- Join a community choir, or one at your church, synagogue or other place of worship.
- Schedule a sing-along with friends.
- Join a singing club.
Getting involved with an active community can help you find people with similar interests to connect and sing with. SageLife communities, such as The Maples of Towson, offer unique and engaging activities aimed at enhancing the lifestyles of our residents. From sing-alongs to music classes and more, we offer a range of activities and events for those who enjoy singing and music. At the Maples of Towson, we take care of our residents' needs, giving them time to pursue their passions and do what makes them most happy. Contact us to learn more about our lifestyle and wellness programs or to schedule an in-person or virtual tour.