“Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything” – Plato
Music therapy can have positive effects on seniors living in aged care facilities. Music can uplift moods, make people dance and even help seniors to bond and make friends. Music makes people of every age happy, and for seniors can act as form of Reminiscence Therapy.
Gary Thorpe saw this first hand when he used to visit his neighbour in an aged care facility. Seeing that she was disengaged and uninterested in the activities they had to offer, he started up Silver Memories. Silver Memories is a 24-hour radio station which plays music from the 20s to the early 60s.
Silence can be incredibly dragging when one is bored. It can make a person feel disconnected and lonely. Music is a great way to get out of that boredom and give the mind something to occupy it.
Music can often lead to dancing. This can be anything from tapping your foot to doing a jig to clapping along to the beat. Even the smallest movement is exercise that can relieve stress.
Many old songs are connected to happier times of their past, by playing music to seniors you are taking them back to that time and those memories.
Music acts as a stimulus that can shift a senior’s negative thinking pattern, it can act as a distraction from things that make them feel sad or anxious.
Music can have a soothing effect, much like a lullaby to a baby. Soothing, peaceful music can be meditative and evoke a sense of well being.
Music that uplifts the mood can often stay with a person even after the song ends. Starting the day with some music can make a person happy for the whole day.
When listened together in a group, music can encourage social interaction whether it is singing or dancing together or even just bonding over similar tastes.
Silver Memories started in 2007, and now is a transmitted Australia-wide via satellite. Many of the announcers are volunteers who were once broadcasters in the 40s and 50s.
Thorpe’s idea was to set up a radio station that was specifically aimed at seniors at aged care facilities. The radio station would focus on playing music and sharing memories from their youth – as a form of Reminiscence Therapy.
Reminiscence Therapy isn’t only specific to music; it can be images, poetry, videos, even decor from an older time. However, music is particularly effective because it registers on multiple sites of the brain. What this means is that even if the brain is very badly affected by a stroke or illness, there are still parts of the brain that recognises music.
Silver Memories is one of the only specialised radio station for seniors in the world, and is even garnering attention from around the world.
The positive impact that Silver Memories has had on seniors shows that “music is the medicine of the mind”.