According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, more than five million Canadians are 65 years of age or older. This figure will rise to one in four Canadians by 2051. Many seniors live at home alone, and finding activities that can accompany their lifestyle is crucial. Singing is one of the best activities that senior citizens can engage in during their spare time, particularly because it offers a myriad of benefits.
Improved Brain Functionality
A study published in the journal Music Perception found that singing can help seniors suffering from certain neurological disorders. Researchers involved in this study found that singing can improve the brain functionality of seniors suffering from aphasia and Parkinson’s disease. With the help of neuroimaging technologies, the researchers established that songs influence brains parts responsible for emotional regulation. This is in addition to improving the use of expressive language in elderly people with speech deficits.
Improved Quality of Life
For elderly people struggling with health problem such as dementia, quality of life tends to be quite low. The good news is becoming active singers can help such seniors improve their quality of life, according to a study carried out at the Landspitali University Hospital in Reykjavik, Iceland. Participants involved in this study had moderate to severe dementia and took part in 30-minute singing sessions.
All the participants experienced:
- increased self-confidence
- better quality of life
- improved interaction with other people in social settings
- reduced anxiety and aggression
Another study carried out by researchers at the George Washington University in Washington DC found that joining a choir has a positive impact on the mental health of older adults.
Seniors who took part in this activity experienced:
- fewer incidences of depression
- fewer hospital visits
- fewer eyesight problems
- improvements in the tone of their speaking voices
- easier breathing
- improved posture
Social Support and Networking
Besides health benefits, being part of a choir provides elderly people with social support and networking opportunities. This is especially true for seniors who join choirs. A researcher from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Julene Johnson travelled all the way to Finland to study their culture of choir singing.
She found that the majority of elderly people who were members of choirs valued the social support provided by other participants more than the desire to sing. Other positive aspects that drew elderly Finns to sing in choirs included developing singing skills, establishing contacts with other people, as well as enjoying emotional experiences associated with singing. The social support present in these group settings can motivate an older adult to engage in other activities such as joining a gym to work out.
Increased Positive Feelings
In most cases, singing is a joyful and uplifting experience. Research carried out at the Department of Psychology, McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and published in the Journal Trends in Cognitive Science found that singing increases the body’s levels of immunoglobulin A, as well as reduces stress levels.
Furthermore, researchers involved in this study found that listening to music stimulates the body to release dopamine, which is the body’s own reward and pleasure neurochemical. Another benefit of being a singer is it increases levels of the hormone oxytocin leading to improved social integration and affiliation. Positive feelings can make a huge difference in the life of an older adult who is living alone or suffering from a chronic medical condition such as arthritis.
Singing can make a huge difference in the lives of the elderly. Studies have shown that participating in this activity can improve brain functionality, increase positive feelings, and improve quality of life. It is also a way for the elderly to socialize with others.
For More Information
Learn about this fantastic opportunity to encourage seniors to sing: SingFit.