Keeping your brain young with music

If you love listening to music, and especially if you play an instrument too, you’re already helping keep your brain active and improving your thinking skills too.


At The Manor Village, our Mosaic lifestyle enrichment program includes lots of music and musical activities, from singing sessions and performances by live musicians to musicals at film night and trips out to concerts.


Our residents really enjoy all these events, and that’s really the main reason we do them. What’s more, our choice of musical activities are backed up with scientific studies that show just how beneficial music can be. Here are just a few examples.


Why music is a workout for your brain!

The structure, format and relationships between each note in music is being ‘decoded’ by your brain as you listen, so you can make sense of what you are hearing. It doesn’t matter what type of music it is, but the more complex or structured the music, the more mathematical type computing your brain will be doing.


Music is rewarding

Listening to music also stimulates the neurochemical reward system in your brain, and that rush of pleasure you feel listening raises the blood flow in your brain, and also releases chemicals that act as a natural analgesic (painkiller). (1)


Music helps you relax

Many of us listen to music to relax, and studies have shown that listening to our favourite music can reduce our blood pressure, stress level and even pain, as well as positive mental benefits such as improved memory, alertness and improving the quality of our sleep.


The benefits of playing a musical instrument

Playing a musical instrument is great for us too, often involving the whole body on the process of turning dots on a page into sounds produced from a physical instrument. Or, we may be playing from memory, recreating complex combinations of notes and rhythms we may have learned many years ago.


If you’ve played an instrument for 10 years or more, even if you then stopped a long time ago, it’s already done your brain a great deal of good! A study by the Landon Center on Aging at the University of Kansas Medical Center (2) found that

“Participants with at least 10 years of musical experience (high activity musicians) had better performance in nonverbal memory, naming, and executive processes in advanced age relative to non-musicians.”


Musical memories

Music can also trigger strong emotions, and evoke memories, particularly for those with memory impairment. A group of researchers at Duke University North Carolina (3) created a personalized playlist of favourite music, which was played daily to patients with dementia, and the results noted by the patient’s caregiver.The study showed that:

“Some caregivers reported that their loved ones were less agitated immediately after listening to the music, and some said they found the music intervention enriching and that it improved quality of life by helping to increase interaction with their loved one.”


A second study (4) split a group of memory care patients into three groups. One group listened to music, one group participated in a singing program, and one group received their normal care without extra musical activity. The study found that

“Both singing and music listening improved mood, orientation, and remote episodic memory and to a lesser extent, also attention and executive function and general cognition. Singing also enhanced short-term and working memory and caregiver well-being, whereas music listening had a positive effect on QOL (quality of life).”


Sing, dance, enjoy

Music is just one of the many activities our residents enjoy at every Manor Village, as part of their inclusive Lifestyle Experience. Why not come and see for yourself! Book a personalized visit at your local Manor Village and discover our stylish senior suites, independent living amenities, and care facilities for yourself?



(2) Hanna-Pladdy, Brenda, and Alicia MacKay.  “The Relation Between Instrumental Musical Activity and Cognitive Aging.”  Neuropsychology  25.3  (2011) :  378-386.  Web.  23 April 2015.


(4)Särkämö, Teppo, et al.  “Cognitive, Emotional, and Social Benefits of Regular Musical Activities in Early Dementia: Randomized Controlled Study.”  The Gerontologist  54.4  (2014) :  634-650.  Web.  23 April 2015.