The power of music for wellbeing

Music is but one of the powerful tools one should have in your ‘healing toolbox’, we all need to identify mechanisms to help us cope in these stressful times. 

podcast

It is a well-known fact that music has a powerful effect on one’s wellbeing, but what exactly does this mean?  If we look at it on a more personal level, what does music mean to each of us?  Music can trigger emotions, good and bad, and take you back to a distant memory instantly.  The music of our teenage / early adult lives we can never erase and as that is such an important time of one’s life, the music that was popular or that you loved, brings back memories instantly.

Music has the power to uplift you, and it can also make you break down and cry instantly.  There are so many different genres of music, the ones we love and most certainly ones that make us cringe when we hear it.  This also makes for great differences between generations, and these can often not be overridden, as the styles of music differ immensely in these modern times.

Many people love opera, many hate it;  many younger people love hip-hop and rap, most older people hate it, and so it goes on.   It would be interesting if grandparents and their grandkids were to swop playlists for a day, the outcome will be very interesting.

In actual fact, research shows that the part in the brain where your musical memories are stored, is also the last part that is affected by brain illnesses like Dementia.  Therefore that personalised playlisting is used to stimulate Dementia patient’s memories and to help them enjoy more clear moments.  This type of playlisting is very specific and has to be carefully compiled as it needs to consist of specific artists / groups / genres that the person with Dementia loved when they were younger, it must also be noted what this person does not like so that it is excluded from the playlist.  Music can ignite great emotions, good or bad.

If we look back at the past few years, living in a pandemic, with lockdowns (some stricter than others) and sometimes being confined to certain spaces, almost all of us would have taken our escape of the reality in some good music.  Music that you love is good for the soul, it can calm you down, or lift you up, it is therapy for the mind.  Few things release stress as easily as belting out your favourite song at the top of your voice, whether you sound good is actually irrelevant!

In these strange and trying times, use your music you love to lighten the burden, to release tension, to keep you sane.  In a world where truth sometimes is stranger than fiction, we can always escape to the calm of music and reset ourselves as best as we can, using our favourite songs.  Music can also create a healing environment and healing facilities should use that more often to create a calm and relaxed environment, conducive to healing. Older people should also not be deprived of music in retirement villages or care homes, this is the time to bring back those memories with the golden oldies they loved.

Music is but one of the powerful tools one should have in your ‘healing toolbox’, we all need to identify mechanisms to help us cope in these stressful times.  Music has one other powerful quality, it is universal, so you don’t need to understand a language to appreciate the music.  We should use music more often – like we already use sport – to unite and build bridges to each other.

Medwell SA – The Home Health Care Specialists, have developed their own Dementia Programme in which one of the six modules is based on hearing and music.  For more information, visit www.medwell.co.za