Music is the Way to Better Health!

3 Strategies for Older Adults to Use Music at Home
 
By Jona Jeffcoat, MT-BC Board Certified Music Therapist

Director of Services of Infinity Music Therapy Services


 
Have you ever watched a movie with the sound off? The scenes lack the normal impact that they have when music is present. Sad scenes seem last sad. Scary moments don’t have the same “jump factor”. The same is true for our lives. Without music, our body feels “empty”. Humans are naturally musical - our hearts beat in rhythm, we breathe in rhythm, we even walk in rhythm. If that rhythm is broken, we end up with arrhythmia of the heart, asthma, gait issues, and other health issues. Music can be so much more than just the radio in our car. When used effectively, music can help improve health. Use the tips and tricks below to enrich your life today!
 
Tip #1: Use music to exercise Using music as background noise is only half the battle. When music is used effectively during exercise, it can help structure your movements, block pain, and help keep you going longer. Music can be listened to when walking, using a treadmill, or even doing chair exercises. First, pick music that YOU like. Choosing “workout” music because it is labeled as “workout” music may not necessarily be effective. Next, choose something with a strong beat that stays constant (doesn’t get faster or slower). Finally, stretch, walk, or jog in time with the music. Feel where that strong beat is and match your body to the music. If you are feeling winded, stop and breathe. Let your breath go in and out in time with the music. Your body will naturally entrain to the music and as a result, breathing and moving will become easier.
 
Tip #2: Use music to get through the rough times We all have those moments where life doesn’t go the way we’d like. It’s important to acknowledge those moments and work through them. Research has found that music can help regulate and improve mood. First, put on a song you identify as being closest to the emotion you are feeling. Play it one time or ten times until you are ready to move on. While the song is playing breathe and acknowledge the emotion. When you feel like you are ready to move on, put on a song that you believe is closer to the emotion you want to feel. Repeat until you feel like your mood has improved.
 
Tip #3: Use music as a memory aid Music helps organize and store information in the brain. This is why we can typically remember a song we haven’t heard in 20 years, but can’t remember where we last left the television remote. The next time you need to remember something, be it the location of an item, a short grocery list, or someone’s phone number, try setting it to song. Even a nursery rhyme such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”. Replace the words with the information you need and sing it several times through. Because music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain, singing the song will help you recall the information better than speech alone.
 
 
 
 
 
For more information about music and health, or to learn more about music therapy services, please contact Jona Jeffcoat, MT-BC at (860) 518-5557 or jona@infinitymusictherapy.com. You can also visit www.infinitymusictherapy.com for more information.