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We continue our discussion of how music may provide therapeutic benefit. This chapter broadens our discussion of music as a therapy and describes the beneficial use of music in the areas of depression, recovery from stroke, and other neurological impairments such as Alzheimer’s disease. In accord with our humanistic tack, we embrace caregiving concerns and emphasize the whole-person approach as we consider neurological impairments and the promise of music therapy to facilitate cognitive-behavioral function and to cope with disability. Therefore, we describe pathological changes in neurocognitive performance, and how music may afford opportunities for regaining behavioral function, self-expression, and enhanced quality of life.
This first chapter introduces the connection of music to wellness as we age. It underscores that music is a pervasive influence, found in all cultures, and embodies the heart and soul of a people. We describe a well society, and discuss how music may be beneficial to both the person and society. Further, we establish the phenomenological-humanistic orientation of music, wellness, and aging. This approach recognizes social connection as a basic need, and self-actualization as an essential human motivation. Self-actualization refers to a need for personal growth, where there is the expression and fulfillment of the upper limits of one’s abilities, talents and greatest possibilities, and the essence of who we are that is reflected in creative activities such as music. We further note that the process of self-actualization is central aspect of our well-being throughout the life course.
We discuss how music may play a role in confronting age-associated health and wellness concerns. Common age-associated illnesses such as diabetes, depression, and pain and the benefits of music therapy are noted. The central focus of this chapter is on resiliency, the capacity to recuperate quickly; recovery, the return to wellness; and, personal growth, the process of gaining new insight, understanding, and adapting. Embracing a humanistic orientation, we explore how music gives vital meaning to life, aids in the recovery from surgery, and assists in managing illnesses. Scientific as well as personal descriptions of how music musical activities may bolster well-being and provide a path to illness management and recovery are offered. Examples of therapeutic approaches used in areas of neurocognitive disorders and with US military veterans are noted.
A final discussion emphasizes the unique experience of each person as they continue into later life. We recognize how music may make available new ways to understand the existential challenges of aging, and to direct us in the enterprise of self-actualization and wellness. As Rollo May notes, in the process of aging we seek to bring together and integrate our understandings of all the earlier times of our life and find new ways of adapting to and enjoying life. We point out entrapments of aging (e.g., the belief that aging is all about decline) and how to overcome them. Moreover, recognizing our search for meaning in later life, we note the hope of self-actualizing transformation, and suggest that music may help older adults look at the world in a fresh, new way and to make positive adjustments to life’s challenges. As a universal phenomenon, we note that music breaks down barriers that separate us from others, allows us to see that which is common to all of us, and to celebrate living.
We discuss music as a reflection of our deepest and most important existential concerns. Indeed, music connects us with the transcendent and is used to express our spirituality. The term “requiem” refers to music that honors those who have died. In this chapter we discuss death and dying, and our approach to living that gives us comfort, hope, and a sense of finality. We posit spirituality as a key thread in the various social theories of aging, and recognize music as a vehicle to and key aspect of the sacred moment. We also explore Buddhist thought (e.g., right view, right livelihood) as a metaphor and method to apply to our attitude toward music and music as a profession. This chapter recognizes how music may be involved in spiritual expressions and in the celebration of the End-of-Life.
In this chapter, we discuss the existential concerns of the great Maestro Ludwig van Beethoven and how he was able to compose musical masterpieces while confronting severe hearing loss. We also describe age-related changes in vision, smell, taste, skin sensation, proprioception, and balance. Age-related cognitive changes such as attention, processing, learning, and memory are presented. Finally, a resolution is offered as to how Beethoven still composed with hearing loss.
In this chapter we consider social experiences, relationships, and involvements, and how music may facilitate social attachment and affiliations in later life. Presented are the role of social support networks and coping mechanisms that help reduce stress. We also consider systems of community and social support, such as mentoring, community bands, and how music may offer a bridge between age and cultural groups. This discussion importantly acknowledges that through music we can practice social justice.
We discuss physical changes that are encountered in aging and how music may be a part of optimizing health outcomes and wellness. This chapter presents how music affects thinking, feeling, and acting. Other topics include effects of noise, biological theories of aging, physical changes with aging, longevity, mind-body interactions, music in a Utopian environment, and exercise. Finally, a discussion ensues on retirement centers that celebrate living, such as Casa Verdi, Triangle Partnership, and The George Center.
This chapter describes how music might be used motivationally in the workplace and how it may be a central activity in our retirement. Beyond music’s ability to direct and positively affect our work and retirement, we discuss career choices and the vicissitudes of age-associated job performance concerns, age stereotypes, and workplace and career changes. We also note stages of retirement and concerns for equity in the workplace, the role of musicians in promoting social justice concerns, and the economics of retirement. We also discuss ways of making a musical “comeback.”
Music is a metaphor that connects people to a profound sense of life. In this book, music intersects with wellness and aging as humans adapt to life changes, stay engaged, remain creative, and achieve self-actualization. Along with discussion of cutting-edge research, the book presents stories and interviews from everyday people as well as professional and non-professional musicians. It discusses individual and social wellness, age-related and pathological changes in health, music therapies, personal resilience and growth, interpersonal and community relationships, work and retirement, spirituality, and the psychology of aging. The case studies show how music, wellness, and aging connect to define, direct, and celebrate life, as these three concepts allow people to connect with others, break down barriers, and find common ground.
So, we have the paradox of a man shamed to death because he is only the second pugilist or the second oarsman in the world. That he is able to beat the whole population of the globe minus one is nothing; he has “pitted” himself to beat that one; and as long as he doesn't do that nothing else counts.
William James, 1892, p. 186
James's observation represents an early statement of a fundamental principle of psychology: A person's objective achievements often matter less than how those accomplishments are subjectively construed. Being one of the best in the world can mean little if it is coded not as a triumph over many, but as a loss to one. Being second best may not be as gratifying as perhaps it should.
Since James's time, of course, this idea has been both theoretically enriched and extensively documented. Social psychologists have shown that people's satisfaction with their objective circumstances is greatly affected by how their own circumstances compare with those of relevant others (Festinger, 1954; Suls & Miller, 1977; Taylor & Lobel, 1989). A 5% merit raise can be quite exhilarating until one learns that the person down the hall received an 8% increase. Psychologists have also demonstrated that satisfaction with an outcome likewise depends on how it compares with a person's original expectations (Atkinson, 1964; Feather, 1967, 1969). Someone who receives a 5% raise might be happier than someone who receives an 8% increase if the former expected less than the latter.
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