Can the power of song save us all?
We’re discussing singing for depression, stress and dementia…
We have talked about Music and dementia in our post: Musical Medicine & Dementia and Dancing and dementia in our post: So You Think You Can Dance? and the benefits; additionally, many Alzheimer’s groups host classes called: ‘Singing for the brain’, which keeps the brain active and provides a friendly and social environment. For those interested, more details here:
Singing can help people living with dementia feel better it stimulates the brain and makes us feel more relaxed. As we mentioned in our previous post Musical Medicine & Dementia people living with dementia may lose part of their memory but remarkably, they don’t forget how to sing their favourite songs or how to play instruments if they used to play in the past.
The science behind this tells us that, the part of our brain containing information connected to music is different from the language networks in our brain and the former is less affected by dementia.
Music is such a powerful tool that it can also help people living with dementia recall memories and emotions. “Evidence suggests that music is more diffusely located in the brain than language networks. That might be a reason why it’s able to sustain itself for such a long period in folks that happen to be developing dementia” according to Zachary Miller, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
In fact Singing is very healthy for everyone not only for people living with dementia. Singing can improve your memory; it can reduce high blood pressure and help alleviate depression & stress, which as we are told may be contributors to some types of dementia.
So could singing even be a preventative measure by helping stave off illness and disease in general? Did you know that singing in a choir has physical and psychological benefits?
A few benefits to singing:
Physical benefits of singing:
- When you sing an endorphin and oxytocin hormones are released. Endorphins are hormones associated with the feeling of pleasure & reduced perception of pain (similarly to the effects of morphine). Oxytocin is a hormone considered to decrease anxiety and stress and it increases the feelings of trust and bonding. “When a choir performs, a number of chemical changes happen in the bodies of the singers that boost their mental health. “
- Singing also boots our immune system by promoting a healthy lymphatic system.
- Lowers blood pressure and improves breathing.
Psychological benefits of singing:
- Singing increases happiness.
- Singing also improves cognition; some studies found that musicians and singers have generally higher IQ’s than non musicians. Many successful people are also good musicians.
- Singing leads to a higher life expectancy.
Benefits of singing for children:
The benefits of singing for children are many. It improves their memory, reading, thinking, learning skills and satisfaction at school, as well as self-confidence and self-esteem. Practicing singing helps children improve the way they process sounds, and further helps them focus in the classroom.
Benefits of singing for the elderly:
The benefits of singing for elderly people include: improved memory, lifts in mood, social bonding, health and quality of life. Elderly people singing in a choir are also less likely to be depressed.
Even advertisers are wise to the notion of singing for the feel good factor. Here Filippo Berrio Olive Oil made a catchy advert through song for a TV commercial.
Once you’ve heard it, it’s almost impossible to get it out of your head!
We’ll just leave this here:
Singing in a choir brings people together, having beneficial social aspects. As we get to know more people, we feel more confident socializing with them. “It can also be a real bonding experience. A recent study found that after just one singing class, people felt closer to each other than those taking part in other classes.”
We at the Dementia Café are excited about singing for our health and want to try a local choir group ourselves!
Why not give it a go and join a group too? Alternatively,sing along with friends or by yourself, sing indoors or out, like Gene Kelly, as he famously sang:, “…just singing in the rain, what a glorious feeling, I’m happy again…”