The Role of Music and Art in Senior Care

Art and music can have a profound effect on us — and even our furry friends, as well. It can calm, soothe, and inspire. It can make us laugh, cry, and reminisce. It can give us a way to express ourselves and share our feelings.

Creating or simply enjoying music and art can be a key part of your senior loved one’s care, no matter what kind of physical or cognitive limitations they may have. In fact, art and music can actually offer significant benefits to both physical and mental health and lead to better quality of life.

The Benefits of Music and Art for Seniors

Music and art offer a wide range of benefits for people of all ages, but particularly for seniors. Numerous studies have shown that music and art can stimulate cognitive function, improve mood, and lead to better overall physical and mental well-being. They also offer seniors a way to express themselves when words might fail.

Regular engagement with music and art can be especially helpful for seniors dealing with:

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

For seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory issues, music and art can serve as effective tools for memory recall, helping them maintain a connection to their past.

The part of the brain that stores long-term memories of music actually remains intact until late in Alzheimer’s disease progression. So familiar songs can trigger memories and emotions, providing soothing comfort and decreasing stress or agitation.

For individuals who learned to play an instrument before the onset of the disease, those skills also remain largely unaffected until they approach the terminal stage. Like art activities, such as painting or drawing, playing an instrument exercises the creative portions of the brain and helps maintain fine motor skills and cognitive engagement, including memory, concentration, and attention span.

Both music and art can also give dementia sufferers an alternative way to express themselves when they have difficulty communicating verbally.

Anxiety and Depression

Music and art can have a calming effect and provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose, making them excellent tools for seniors experiencing anxiety and depression. These activities provide a peaceful outlet for emotional expression and can be a source of relaxation and joy, helping to boost self-esteem and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Loneliness and Isolation

Music and art can bring people together and help them connect, which is ideal for seniors experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Art classes, concerts, museum tours, professional art and music therapy groups — there are plenty of ways to combine art and socialization and help seniors form meaningful connections with others.

Reduced Mobility and Physical Limitations

Sitting down, lying in bed, in a wheelchair — music and art is accessible regardless of mobility level. Music requires nothing more than closing your eyes and listening, while art can be viewed or created anywhere. In fact, new technology and innovations are even making art accessible to the blind and vision impaired and music available to the deaf and hearing impaired.

How to Incorporate Music and Art Into Senior Care

One of the great things about music and art is that there are nearly limitless ways to enjoy and participate in them. From creating art and music yourself to enjoying what someone else has created, there’s no wrong way to appreciate and benefit from artistic expression.

So if you want to incorporate music and art into your senior loved one’s care, there are all kinds of different avenues you can pursue. Just be sure to take their preferences and capabilities into account and choose activities that will uplift them, rather than discourage or frustrate them.

For example, someone with dementia may feel overwhelmed or anxious going to a symphony or museum, while a senior with severe arthritis might have difficulty painting with a brush. But the beautiful thing is that art is always adaptable.

Encourage your loved one to have fun and get a little messy by using their fingers to create abstract art. Put on music from your loved one’s youth to stimulate nostalgia and pleasant memories. There are no limitations or rules when it comes to making and enjoying art and music.

And, if you’d like to take a more in-depth approach, there are also group and individual therapists who specialize in music and art therapy. They can be especially helpful for those who need professional mental health care but have trouble communicating.

A holistic approach to senior care

No matter what type of challenges or limitations they’re facing, music and art can help improve seniors’ quality of life and general well-being. Artistic appreciation and expression are an important part of holistic care — one that Right Hand Care wholly supports.

At Right Hand Care, we offer affordable in-home care services designed around your loved one’s unique needs. Our compassionate caregivers focus on creating nurturing environments that enrich seniors’ lives. From physical assistance to companionship to helping with hobbies and activities, we strive to provide a holistic care experience for each and every senior.

For more information on our services or to set up a care plan, contact us today.

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