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Can Elders and Youngsters with Hearing Impairments Enjoy Music?

Updated: Sep 7


The Problem

Currently more than 1.5 billion people (nearly 20% of the global population) live with hearing loss. 430 million of them have disabling hearing loss. It is expected that by 2050, there could be over 700 million people with disabling hearing loss. Source: World Health Organization.


How Can Music Help Elders?


The Elder Care Alliance (ECA) describes ways music can help elders:

  • Music improves overall health.

  • Music can help fight depression.

  • Music can help treat dementia and Alzheimers.

ECA suggests ways elders can can incorporate music into their lives:

  • Create a personalized playlist on a program like Spotify or Amazon Music that includes familiar music or music that inspires different moods like relaxation or motivation.

  • Attend live concerts or performances. Live music is often available for free in parks and other venues that provide community entertainment.

  • Pick up that abandoned instrument that you used to play and get familiar with it again. Playing music has the same benefits that listening to music does and keeps you even more cognitively engaged.

  • Get familiar with YouTube. Not only will you be able to find music that reminds you of younger days, but you’ll be able to find videos of live performances as well.

Frank Russo, a professor of psychology and director of the Science of Music, Auditory Research and Technology Lab, or SMART Lab, at Ryerson University in Toronto, suggests start or join a choir. Source


How Can Music Help Youngsters with Hearing Loss?


Musical training can improve how children with hearing loss can better understand language and sound. Music activities for children with speech and language delays, suggested by Baylor University's online speech pathology graduate program, include the following:

  • Draw connections.

  • Give them a solo.

  • Make music a routine.

  • Band practice. Use pans, bowls, and other household materials as percussion instruments. Let your child experiment with rhythm and sound, and use prompt words like “go fast,” “go slow,” or “play softer” and have them adjust their playing accordingly.

  • Use a playlist. Curating a selection of songs that suit your child’s interests and language goals is an easy way to make time for music appreciation on a regular basis. Services like Spotify and Youtube are two potential platforms you can use.

Mahler Chamber Orchestra's program, Feel the Music, opens the world of music to deaf and hard of hearing children, encouraging them to discover music on their own terms. In interactive workshops at schools for the deaf and at the concert halls, children and musicians explore how music can be experienced with all their senses.


Often when hearing is damaged, it is more difficult for a person to hear higher pitches and softer sounds. So when music can be recognized through touch, feeling the vibrations, it is that much more pleasing to those that are deaf or hard of hearing. Source: Elaine, R. Mar 23, 2017.


Conclusion


Music can help both oldsters and youngsters with or without hearing loss. Since one-fifth of the world population lives with some degree of hearing loss, let's start now, whether we are older or younger, hearing impaired or not, to "feel the music."


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