Four scientifically proven benefits that music provides in the recovery of cognitive functions in the elderly

Estimated reading time: 4 to 5 minutes

There are more elderly people nowadays than at any other time in human history. Discoveries in medical, and nutritional fields have postponed aging, Furthermore, science has confirmed that music is not only a sedative for emotions and the body but a powerful medicine that also recovers cognitive functions in elder people. Read more.

The influence of music makes it possible to prevent or recover cognitive impairments for natural to normal or pathological aging. 

Music functions as a stimulus that modulates brain activation in a broad spectrum as well as a powerful tool that, due to the improvement of self-esteem allows elders to recover their emotional balance and social reintegration.

Jonathan Swift, a remarkable British writer of the 18th century, became famous because of the great book he wrote, "Gulliver's Travels," once quoted, "Every man desires to live long, but no man wishes to be old.”

Therefore, it is precisely what catches the most in those who wish to live long. Given that time is relentless, it affects everyone with no distinction. However, this effect can be different depending on each one's way of life and, of course, the mind's balance and inheritance.

Nevertheless, there is another way for you to avoid the aging issue: go listen to your favorite tune. It makes it much better than you can imagine. 

The music turns out to be of the best ways to diminish aging's effects. Get into this mood!

 Aging carries itself various side effects which can be alleviated or even fully recovered with music.

Besides natural physical decay, neurological issues pop up due to aging, such as dementia, arteriosclerosis, Parkinson's, or Alzheimer's, among others. Those diseases can be taken care of with music hearing and other ways to diminish their impacts on the person who carries them.

There is a website “MCI and Beyond”  that goes deeper into this issue. Its purpose is to curate and share the latest information about MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) and dementia-related issues. 

Studies relating to the effects of music, especially on the elderly have revealed that musicians have "younger-looking brains". Based on this data, researchers performed MRI scans on professional musicians, amateur musicians, and non-musicians to compare the aging process of their brains.

The data that provides information regarding the aging process in the brain is known as "BrainAGE" ("Brain Age Gap Estimation"), i.e., the difference between the estimated and chronological age of the brain. "The goal is to detect whether the brain is accelerated or slowed down according to the external functions of those analyzed," said researcher Christian Gaser, also a professor at Jena University Hospital.

In fact, music can boost neural plasticity, the unique ability of the human brain to modify its structure and functions according to changes that occur inside the body and due to other factors such as external influences. 

Music-driven brain plasticity is most evident in the elderly

Because music a new neural modulation takes place and delays cognitive deficits in older people.

In other words, music has the amazing power to reconfigure the brain hence increasing the production of endorphins, substances responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure. This may help skin plasticity, due to the hormone production boost. 

4 scientifically proven benefits of music for the elderly: 

1 - Memory loss

A study published in the Oxford University Cerebral Cortex Journals revealed that the memory of elderly people could be revitalized by listening to music that reorganizes memories that have been lost in forgetfulness. Music also improves day-to-day memory.

Music also can revitalize the memory of people with Alzheimer's disease. Singing or playing an instrument, reactivates memory because of the speed of information. 

Professional dancer Marta Gonzalez, who had Alzheimer's disease - was admitted to a nursing home in Spain, and started hearing Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake". Suddenly, she recalled the choreography from her dancing days. Watch this moving scene in a YouTube video. Tony Bennett who also suffers from Alzeheimer could remember most of his hits when making a duo performance with Lady Gaga.

2 - Post-traumatic condition

Music attenuates some depressive effects in patients who have suffered a stroke or any other trauma (PTSD). In the case of the elderly, music reduces the stress caused by medication or a serious illness.

3 - Blood pressure control 

The most relaxing music styles, such as classical, ecological, or meditating improve heart health, by controlling blood pressure and thus, strengthening the immune system, diminishing the risks of infectious diseases.

4 - Hearing loss

Deafness is one of the most common effects of aging and according to Professor Don Caspary of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, a researcher of hearing loss, “Music can slow down hearing loss if the patient becomes an assiduous listener. Therefore, the brain releases substances that help the hearing system to recover. A musical routine also compensates for hearing difficulties in noisy environments."

Music therapy works with specific goals

Casa de Rep.-BrilhoDoSol

Music therapy is a field that explores deeper the benefits generated by music according to the therapeutic needs of the patient.

Music therapy works directly with musical elements, such as sound, rhythm, melody, and harmony, aiming at people's physical, emotional, mental, social, and cognitive needs.

"In the elderly, music therapy aims more on stimuli concerning the emotional area, in order to make it easier their social reintegration as well as strengthens their lyrical side."

Music therapy treatments act on multiple neocortical circuits, stimulating both brain hemispheres, mainly in the regions that make up the limbic system.

Science is discovering new genres to make music even more “cerebral”!!

It is emerging a new kind of music: “quantum music” that may be a connection between the complex subjects of quantum physics with quantum acoustics. The goal is to enhance not only some brain functions but more than that: to reach deep down into cells and reprogramme them according to the need. Fantastic, isn’t it? The project is very advanced though. There is more to come.

The Bottom Line

It doesn't matter how old you are or what kind of music you most like, no matter whether it's classical, rock, jazz, blues, country, samba, bossa nova, punk, or any other style, popular or weird. Actually, what matters is the pleasure that music brings to you with its benefits. Most importantly, only music can balance your environment by harmonizing its frequencies with yours. This is the finest and legit "elixir of youth"! Enjoy it!