Playing an Instrument to Preserve Hearing

A third of people over the age of 60 have lost their ability to hear due to a decrease in being able to discriminate acoustic information from the environment! This powerful statistic comes from a study conducted by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. A different 2011 study found that being a lifelong musician and playing instruments later in life may be associated with better hearing. Nina Kraus, a biologist and director of Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory says that “what we do with our time and how we engage our senses and our thinking seems to really shape the people we become in very basic ways- in ways that effect how our senses work.”

Along the same lines as the two aforementioned studies, a 2011 study published in the Journal of Psychology and Aging found that being a musician may contribute to better hearing in old age by delaying some of the age-related changes in central auditory processing especially if elderly musicians are using their auditory systems on a regular basis. In other words “use it or lose it.”

Engage As You Age often works with older adults and socially isolated seniors by bringing music and music lessons to their homes;  allowing them to age in place. While we’re certainly not as helpful as a hearing aid, we’ve found that when paired with one we bring a lot of joy to isolated seniors.  So even if you haven’t been a musician your whole life, there are several benefits for older adults who engage in activities that stimulate the senses at any age. According to a study by a USC professor some benefits of seniors engaging include the prevention of health decline that comes with old age such as memory loss, hearing loss, and physical inability.


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