How the Symphony Can Benefit Seniors

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Updated: December 24, 2022


symphony music

Symphony music can treat seniors to benefits ranging from relaxation to better sleep to decreased pain.

When a certain song comes on the radio, you can find yourself transported back in time to a memory from your childhood. Music is special that way, always stimulating the brain in unexpected and different ways. Symphony music can have similar results for cognitive stimulation, especially in older adults. Here’s why heading to see an orchestra or catching a concert at your local symphony with your aging parent could be your next best idea.


What Is Music Therapy?

It’s important to first note the definition of music therapy, an entire health profession dedicated to using music to assist patients in achieving their goals. While music therapy interventions can be used with any age demographic, there has been increased interest in music therapy within the older adult audience over the past decade. Music therapists use interventions that are especially effective for older adults living with chronic pain as well as cognitive decline, which could save you a trip to your local CVS pharmacy for more medications.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy interventions work so well because they are interventions rooted in sensory stimulation. By stimulating the senses, patients have the opportunity to enjoy familiarity, predictability, and feelings of security. This can often translate into offering positive experiences for patients, including those who are otherwise resistive to care or other approaches.


Symphony Music and Seniors

While any type of familiar and moving music can be used during positive interactions with older adults, there is something extra special about symphony music. A symphony is defined as a specific type of musical composition for an orchestra, typically quite long and with many movements. It’s these movements that can make the symphony experience especially therapeutic for older adults.

Music is tied closely with emotions. Symphony movements are never one-note, and always have highs and lows. Older adults listening to a symphony have the opportunity to allow the music to tap into their personal emotions, often leaving them feeling a sense of release and relief as the music comes to a close. 

Symphony music can also inspire movement in the form of dancing or simply toe-tapping. Listening to music can end up bringing the opportunity to enhance physical movement and motor skills, ideal for any older adult who is looking to decrease fall risk or decrease pain due to arthritis. For older adults who have contracted muscles due to a chronic medical condition, a relaxing symphony can often translate to a relaxed muscle state, giving permission for those contracted muscles to slowly release.

The NAMM Foundation also reports that listening to music can even prevent age-related hearing challenges! It’s true – older musicians are often at a decreased risk for needing a hearing aid or other device. The best news is that it is never too late to begin training your brain with music and reducing your chances of hearing loss.


Get Started By Enjoying a Symphony

symphony music

You can listen to any type of music throughout your day to give you a boost of energy or to ease you into relaxation.

There are multiple reasons why attending a local orchestra concert or downloading a symphony on your tablet is a good move. However, some older adults and their family members can feel intimidated about trying out a musical intervention, especially if they do not have a musical background. The good news is that while working with a certified music therapist is certainly a wonderful idea, you don’t need to in order to see some positive results.

Begin by starting to experiment with listening to different types of music. You’ll quickly find that music can directly affect your mood, so try to use it to your advantage. For example, listen to a more relaxing playlist during the late afternoon when you feel anxious. Turn on a more energetic set of songs in the morning when you are getting ready for the day. 

If you find that you don’t like certain composers or types of music, that’s okay! Everyone has their own taste in music and while you can push yourself to listen to new genres, you never have to feel like you have to stick with certain types. While symphony music is excellent for relaxation and sensory stimulation, you can find plenty of benefits for listening to your favorite childhood gospel songs that remind you of your grandmother or a specific album that reminds you of your senior prom. If you like a certain type of music, go with it! 

Finally, try to use music as something to do instead of watching the television or scrolling on your phone. Adding music can be a wonderful distraction from screens, especially in the evening hours when too much screen time can quickly translate to insomnia. Set an alarm to remind you to turn off the screens and turn on the radio with your favorite playlist as you prepare your body and mind for sleep.

How will you begin implementing symphony music in your own routine or during your next visit with your aging loved one? We know you’ll find new ways to incorporate music and that you’ll quickly see the benefits for both of you.