Listening to religious music can improve mental health in older adults

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Listening to religious music can improve mental health in older adults
Listening to religious music can improve mental health in older adults

Listening to religious music helps seniors increase their life satisfaction and self-esteem, and decreases anxiety around death, according to a new analysis.

The music also helped with a sense of control, according to researchers at Baylor University, University of Texas- San Antonio, Bowling Green State University and Duke University. This suggests that some long-term care residents may benefit from listening to religious music. Responses were collected among more than 1,000 adults, all over age 65, who were either practicing Christians, identified as Christian in their past, or who were unaffiliated with a specific faith.  

“Given that religious music is available to most individuals — even those with health problems or physical limitations that might preclude participation in more formal aspects of religious life — it might be a valuable resource for promoting mental health later in the life course,” the authors concluded. Results appeared in The Journal of Gerontology on April 15.

A 2013 study, also published in the Journal of Gerontology, looked specifically at the use of religious songs in helping older African Americans cope with stressful life events. It found that songs evoking themes around thanksgiving, communication with God and life after death improved the mental health of those studied.

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