Bringing Musical Enrichment to the Everyday Life of Seniors

/ / percussion-play

Music is a wonderful outlet that can lift spirits regardless of age, although there are a number of proven physical, mental, and emotional benefits specifically for seniors and older adults. Go a stage further, to making music and you will tap into a truly powerful tool that is able to help improve personal well-being, social interaction, and communication.

There is no denying the power of music, and as we age, music can play an increasingly important role in our quality of life. Retirement communities, assisted living residences, or nursing homes, looking at ways to innovate and enhance options for meaningful musical engagement, could consider the inclusion of outdoor musical instruments in a music garden, trail, or courtyard to easily incorporate music into the daily lives of residents for both cognitive and physical stimulation that engages the body, mind, and spirit.

Music-making in the great outdoors will enable enriching group musical experiences, foster connections, and support a holistic approach to caregiving. These instruments are enticing and will bring together residents, team members, families, and volunteers and will turn each day into an opportunity for seniors to engage, enjoy, express, learn, share, and laugh.

Outdoor Musical Instruments to Entice Residents Outdoors

Retirement communities and facilities will almost always have some type of outdoor space, and regular engagement of these spaces – where seniors are encouraged to step outside to participate in activities, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and get mobile – will undoubtedly have a positive impact on mood, mental health, and physical wellbeing. Having the opportunity to be outdoors, even for those with more advanced health issues or limited mobility, is an important part of maintaining the quality of life, which all senior living residents deserve.

The many studies on the benefits of music combined with the research behind the benefits of time spent outdoors have seen a steady increase in the creation of music gardens and parks across the globe – with forward-thinking senior and assisted living residences as well nursing homes well on top of the trend!

Well-designed outdoor spaces should be safe and accessible havens where people want to spend their time. Spaces that should lift spirits and bring a smile to residents or guests each time they step outside.  A music garden or courtyard will instantly enhance an outside space, creating a destination to entice residents, friends, family, and carers to venture out into the garden for some musical mindfulness. Easy to install, easy to play, and instantly gratifying, even just one instrument will uplift and transform an outdoor space.

Going outdoors is all about living in the moment, breathing in lots of fresh air, and feeling the sun or the rain on your face – add to this the liberating feeling and pure fun that comes from musical improvisation or expression and you will have a win-win situation.

Outdoor Musical Instruments for Music Therapy in Nature

When we think of the great outdoors, we do not often think of music therapy – but we can, and we should. Moving patients away from stuffy indoor settings and using outdoor musical instruments can introduce nature as a ‘co-therapist’.

The sounds and sensations of being in nature can be beneficial mentally, physically, and emotionally. Participants are often more relaxed outdoors -finding the natural surroundings relaxing, health-fostering, and recuperative – easing anxiety, eliminating fear, and encouraging ‘being in the moment’. 

Music therapy in groups using an outdoor musical ensemble will bring social opportunities and enjoyment to older people who are not necessarily cognitively impaired but who may have reduced mobility.

Physical exercise is one thing, but there is also an emotional and mental relief that comes from being outside in the symphony of nature and music has the same impact.  It stimulates the sense of reward and increases the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin, which can instantly lift our mood.  Music-making reduces stress, enhances joy, leads to heightened positive emotion, modulates blood pressure, muscle tension, and a sense of well-being.

For those offering a holistic approach to senior care, music therapists in senior living communities can use the outdoor musical instruments to enhance the range of specialist care available for seniors living in their facility.

Outdoor Music Making for Socialization & Community

Music has been used for generations to bring people together. The positive effects are simply enhanced when we make music in a group setting – the energy created while making music with other people is shared and magnified.

Spaces for outdoor music activities such as a music garden or park will make it easier for seniors to stay active and be part of a musical community. It will help avoid social isolation by providing them with opportunities to have fun, learn something new, support each other and make friends -cultivating engagement and giving an enhanced sense of belonging.

Musical performances, drum circles, and sing-alongs could all be hosted outdoors in the ‘music space’ and retirement communities could be encouraged to invite the wider local community along to get involved, increasing awareness of the facility, breakdown barriers, expanding social connections, and drawing the benefits of multigenerational interactions.

Playing music with someone can create a very special bond, and an outside music space will offer somewhere new and exciting for visiting family and friends to go with their loved ones, leaving the confines of their room. A change of scenery and different sensory experiences can often stimulate conversation and help provide topics for reminiscence.

Inviting outdoor music spaces will encourage seniors tο:

Discover or reignite a connection to music

Stimulate active participation in communal music-making

Foster positive social interactions in the fresh air

The simplicity of the instruments and instant musical success will improve self-esteem and offer a sense of accomplishment.

Outdoor Musical Instruments for Winning Curb-Appeal

Running a retirement community is also a business, and retirement homes, assisted living facilities and other senior living options need to appeal to potential residents and reassure them that they provide the services and amenities required for seniors to live a healthy, happy life as they age.

When selecting a senior living community, people are likely to seek a well-rounded facility that emphasizes health and wellness and offers myriad opportunities to stay active. Attractive, creative outdoor activity spaces with outdoor musical instruments included will give a good visual ‘first impression’ to potential residents and their families who may visit several facilities before deciding which is a good fit for them. They will showcase the culture and sense of unity a senior living community has to offer.

Demonstrating the importance that music and music therapy has to the range of services offered will make a community or home stand out as engaging in current best practice in the care of senior adults. This will foster trust with seniors’ families possibly struggling with an emotional decision, help alleviate some of the fear that their parents may have and promote the value and advantages that come from living in a senior living community.