Our halls are alive with the Sound of Music

Christmas (3) At St. Anne’s, the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of musical entertainment by various groups, from the Sweet Adelines  to church youth groups, to name some.  We are grateful to all those who have shared their beautiful voices and holiday cheer with our residents.  Students from St. Michael’s School even shared Christmas cookies!  Little do the know all the benefits music really has for elderly individuals! According to research documented by the University of South Florida’s School of Music, music participation with the elderly provided “multiple physical benefits regardless of the senior citizens’ health conditions.” This same source shared that active music participation can benefit senior citizens by contributing positively to their psychological well-being or mental health…”(Coffman, et. al.)  Such participation offers increased self-understanding, learning success, providing rewarding and interesting experiences, and an opportunity for creative self-expression, all of which increase their quality of life. Another online source, Music Sparks, outlines “remarkable psychological benefits” of listening to music for the elderly, including:

  • A happier outlook on life and improved interest levels
  • Improved social interaction
  • Discovery of personal identity and increased self-esteem
  • Enhanced moods and increased positive emotions
  • Increased communication in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients
  • Increased relaxation and reduced tension and anxiety

There are noteworthy physiological benefits as well, including:

  • Better nights of sleep
  • Diminished pain
  • Improved memory and recall
  • Improved recovery time
  • Increased awareness and ability to concentrate
  • Increased mobility and coordination
  • Increased overall cognitive abilities
  • Lessened need for medication
  • Reduced pain
  • Reduced recovery time

Adaire Ranstrom, music therapist and recent UND graduate, offers other insight on her website.  She shares research that music therapy can benefit those with a variety of disorders, including: Alzheimer’s/ Dementia, Autism, Strokes, COPD, Chronic Heart Failure, Parkinsons, Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Cortical Blindness, and Cancer. My father, Rick Neumann, who has worked with a program called “The Gathering” shared his thoughts on the benefits of music: “One of the things I have experienced first hand is at the Gathering.  The Gathering is a group of volunteers who ‘entertain’ a group of people with memory loss for 3.5 hours so their caregivers can have a break.  Some of the participants don’t really interact much during the day until music-time.  Once the music starts they all come alive and most remember the words to the songs.  It’s truly amazing.” Whether it be at Christmas time, or throughout the year, we all can benefit from “the Sound of Music.”  It is truly a gift for which to be grateful.   ~Sr. Christina Neumann