We often hear the importance of music education for children, as playing an instrument can greatly aid in a child’s development, while increasing cognitive and social skills.
Learning to play an instrument has benefits for people of all ages, but in particular for older adults. Playing an instrument is more than just music to the ears, it offers several health benefits that can help seniors fight cognitive decline.
Some would say that the easiest time to learn a new skill is during childhood. Many adults might feel this means that learning to play an instrument is an impossible task as they age. The truth is, however, that the brain is plastic; it is able to learn new things at all times. Playing an instrument is a great task for seniors, as it engages the sensory systems of the brain, while increasing coordination. As the eyes, ears, and hands coordinate to play a musical note, your brain actually gets quite the work-out! This work-out helps increase the relationship between the motor and auditory parts of the brain. For this reason, physically playing music has far greater benefits than simply listening to music. Playing an instrument can also help improve your memory, by keeping your brain alert and active. Playing an instrument keeps your brain sharp, and it can even boost mood and quality of life.
Not only does playing an instrument engage the sensors in your brain, it also provides a work-out for your fingers. Many seniors have benefited from playing an instrument during rehabilitation after a stroke, and it can help keep hands active for those who have arthritis. The positive feedback the brain receives from the coordination and repetition of finger movement, can help older adults reduce errors in movement and actually improve the rate at which they learn new things. There are several activities that can help seniors improve these skills, such as knitting, but playing an instrument seems to have the most benefits based on how many different motor systems it engages. In fact, Western Sydney University is currently conducting a study on how piano playing in older adults can improve hand function in unrelated daily tasks. Not only can playing an instrument help work-out your brain, it can help you strengthen your hands!
Playing an instrument provides you with a mental and physical work-out, as well as several other health benefits. Many older adults may feel that learning a new skill is too difficult at their age. The fact is, though, that taking on this challenge can actually provide them with much satisfaction and a great sense of achievement. Music is also a great social activity for older adults, helping decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness. Music is also shown to help support the body’s immune system and regulate blood pressure. Playing music also releases endorphins in the body which help alleviate stress and fights the symptoms of depression. By decreasing the level of stress in the body, seniors can actually enjoy a more fulfilling life.
It is crucial for older adults to engage in hobbies that help them stay active and alert. One of the best activities for ageing adults is learning to play an instrument. This skill will not only improve cognitive ability, but provide seniors with a new take on life. Music can help fight depression and give seniors a new social outlet. More than a hobby, playing an instrument is a fun way for older adults to feel young again!