Can listening to calming music actually ease pain? Can singing silly songs make you happier? Researchers say this isn’t just a folktale—it represents some of the measurable effects of music on the mind and body.
Although it’s not yet clear exactly how music works its magic, studies show that it is strong medicine, both in the moment and as treatment over time. Among the benefits, music
- stimulates the brain. It can sharpen thinking and enhance recovery from stroke.
- brightens mood. Music with a tap-your-toes, upbeat rhythm can ease depression, reduce anxiety, and create a more positive outlook overall.
- calms the body. Music with a slower, gentler pace and melody can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and rate of breathing. It can even reduce the need for sedation in surgery.
Bringing music into your loved one’s life is simple.
- Listen to prerecorded music. Tune in to a favorite radio station or play music by a familiar composer or band. Create a favorites playlist. Especially if your loved one has dementia (memory problems), melodies from the past will bring the comfort of familiarity.
- Sing favorite tunes at home. If your loved one likes to sing, choose cherished hymns, folk songs, or popular tunes from your loved one’s past.
- Experiment. Music is personal. Try different kinds of music, including soothing sounds of nature, and notice your loved one’s response. Happier? More relaxed? See what works for your situation.
You can also ask the doctor about music therapy.
Much like physical therapists, music therapists work to relieve pain or support physical or mental healing, which they accomplish by guiding patients through musical experiences. Music therapy is most often available in clinics, hospitals, rehab facilities, and through hospice. It may be covered by Medicare.