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Seniors Research


The following information is in reference to Chapter 9, page 106 of The Power Of Sound.

“Effects of Music Therapy Strategy on Depressed Older Adults.” Music has been used as a form of therapy for older adults in residential and adult daycare centers. Studies have documented the effects of music on the quality of life, expression of feelings, involvement with the environment, awareness and responsiveness, positive associations, and socialization in these settings.

In this research study, however, music was explored in the home with senior adults who had a history of depression or acute anxiety. Home-based music therapy is seen as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs that might have side effects or interfere with existing prescriptions, as a palliative coping strategy for the relief of pain and anxiety, and as a therapeutic support for the homebound or those who cannot afford psychotherapy.

This study, published in 1994, showed that depression, distress, self-esteem, and mood greatly improved when a daily regimen of listening to music with therapeutic support was instituted. Another study group commenced a daily self-administered music therapy practice. A third group, the control group, had no music or therapeutic support. Both of the groups that heard thirty to sixty minutes of music a day saw much improvement in symptoms. Therapeutic support had the greatest result. However, the group with music and no therapist showed impressive positive results when compared to the control group with no music. Follow-up testing after nine months showed that self-administered music listening sessions when symptoms arose produced the same positive effects as did daily use of music. In other words, there was a learned response.32

“Music Research to Prove Well-Being.” In 2009, The Institute of Education, in London, initiated Music for Life, the first large-scale examination of the potential of community music making to contribute to older people’s physical, social and mental well-being . . .

“Music has proven benefits for health and well-being,” said Professor Susan Hallam, the lead researcher. “It helps concentration, aids relaxation, can influence moods and emotions and brings a sense of togetherness when people play or sing in groups . . .” Our study, which will involve up to 1,500 people in culturally diverse settings, aims to demonstrate the extent to which singing or playing musical instruments can bring all-round improvements to older people’s lives.” (Author’s note: The results of this study were not in at the time of this book’s publication.)35

“Playing a musical instrument makes you brainier.” 2009 research from the University of Zurich suggests that regularly playing an instrument changes the shape and power of the brain, may be used in therapy to improve cognitive skills, and can increase IQ by seven points in both children and adults,. Psychologist Lutz Jäncke says, “…there is growing evidence that musicians have structurally and functionally different brains compared with non-musicians – in particular, the areas of the brain used in processing and playing music. We found that even in people over the age of 65 after four or five months of playing a instrument for an hour a week there were strong changes in the brain.” The study has found that parts of the brain that control hearing, memory, and the hands become more active. Per Dr. Jäncke, “ Essentially the architecture of the brain changes.”36

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