September 4, 2014 (Scottsdale, AZ)
“Music is a therapy. It is a communication far more powerful than words, far more immediate, far more efficient.” – Yehudi Menuhin
September 7-13 is National Assisted Living Week (NALW). The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) established NALW in 1995 as a way to celebrate those that are in assisted living, and the dedicated staff that take care of them. NCAL’s theme for the week long celebration is “The Magic of Music.” The program celebrates how music can have a positive effect on people. They encourage families and staff to visit their website to download their NALW planning guide at: http://www.ahcancal.org/ncal/events/Documents/NALW_lowres.pdf. The guide is filled with great suggestions for how to incorporate music into the lives of those in assisted living.
Music stirs memories in everyone, but according to NCAL, the power of music is especially important for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. NCAL says that, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, listening to music can improve mood and behavioral issues, such as being agitated, and the music may remind them of a happy time in their life. Furthermore, they say that patients that listen to music have been shown to have improved cognitive function. Another benefit to having elderly or inactive assisted living residents listen to music is the physical exercise benefits. NCAL suggests staff and family play upbeat music for residents, and encourage getting them moving and exercising during the music. Even just stomping their feet and moving their arms can be very beneficial. Personally speaking, my Father suffers from dementia and one of his favorite things to do is to listen to some of his favorite music. He likes to listen with his headphones on and “conducts” during the music. I have seen him transform in a matter of minutes from acting tired and disinterested to smiling, singing and waving his arms as he conducts.
Music therapy or listening to your favorite tunes is not just for seniors or those in assisted living, but for everyone. A recent article on Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-137116/Why-listening-music-key-good-health.html) suggests that music is good for all sorts of things. Your favorite music may improve your mood, but it might also improve your back pain too. The article states that music has an effect on the autonomic nervous system. When you listen to slow rhythms, you lower your blood pressure, your heart rate slows down and you breathe more slowly. This, in turn, reduces muscle tension in your neck, shoulders and back. Listening to music during your workouts is beneficial as well. The article states that listening to music while you work out improves your endurance, helps put you in a good mood and keeps your mind off any pain you may be experiencing.
If you have a loved one in assisted living, check with the establishment and see if they will be participating in the NALW “Magic of Music” event. If not, try introducing music to your loved one in assisted living and try the magic of music in your own life. A lot of us at AMF listen to music while we work and personally, I find it relaxes me and makes me more creative. So try putting on your favorite tune and enjoy the healthy benefits of music.