Music and Medicine

As a baby, you fell asleep to soft lullabies; as a child you sang silly songs that helped you learn new things; and in your teens, the music you listened to defined your tastes, friendships, and preferences. Now as a senior, music can help you heal.

Yes, the magic of music isn’t just for kids. Music is a deeply spiritual experience that transcends speech. A host of studies show how music plays an integral role in health and wellness.

Music Helps with Memory Recall

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease can recall memories better when listening to old favorites. In fact, music plays a central part of memory treatments in memory care units like Bridgeway’s. The area of the brain linked to musical memory is not seriously damaged by Alzheimer’s, so patients are often able to recall their favorite songs even in more advanced stages of the disease. Even patients with aphasia, the loss of ability to express speech, are sometimes able to sing old tunes.

Music Improves Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Rhythmic music can help regulate involuntary movements in patients with degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. A 2001 study concluded that “auditory rhythm”— or music — can also help improve speech in severely impaired patients.

Music Aids in Ventilator Weaning

A study published three years ago in Science Daily focused on the affect of music on the ventilator weaning process. Helping a patient relearn how to breathe on his own after he’s been on a ventilator is a long and difficult process. The study allowed participants to listen to their choice of music every other day for an hour. On music days, the patients had significant improvements to their heart and respiratory rates. They were also able to stay off the ventilator for longer on those days, and their blood pressure was better.

Music Enhances Surgical Outcomes

A 2014 editorial in the British Medical Journal talks about the benefits surgical teams gain from music in the operating theater. Music is often played during surgery to reduce anxiety in both the team and the patient, and increase the surgeon’s concentration. Better focus is linked to better outcomes in surgery. Classical music is especially helpful, because it improves focus and there are no distracting lyrics to break that concentration.

Music Reduces Stress

Listening to music is a great way to relax when you feel stressed out. Reducing your stress boosts your immune system and overall health. Mental, emotional, and physical stress can cause all sorts of health problems. Managing stress with music will increase your feelings of well-being in the short and long term.