Gospel music can ease end-of-life anxiety
Those old Gospel hymns are more than quaint church music. Researchers say the songs can reduce anxiety about death, increase self-esteem and bring meaning to older people’s lives.
“Religion is an important socio-emotional resource that has been linked with desirable mental health outcomes among older U.S. adults,” researchers said in a news release. “This study shows that listening to religious music may promote psychological well-being in later life.”
The study analyzed data from the national Religion, Aging, and Health Survey of more than 1,000 older black and white U.S. adults who identified themselves as Christians. The participants were asked how frequently they listened to religious music and then were asked to respond to questions about their outlook on life.
The results showed positive responses from all genders and races, regardless of income.
The study results didn’t surprise Sue Durkin, a geriatric nurse at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois.
“Music, especially classical types can be soothing, ease pain and suffering and is often effective in comforting someone near the end of life,” says Durkin. “More and more research is showing the benefits of music therapy as an additional adjunct to care for patients of all ages.”
Durkin says, the soothing sounds of music can engross the whole person.
“Music engages the body in movement, mind in reminiscence and emotions through tempo and patterns that often mimic the rhythm of a heartbeat,” Durkin says. “Just think of the lullabies we sing to babies to calm them. How often have you ever held a baby while singing and not added a rocking movement to it too? It has an overall calming effect. Music and movement go hand in hand.”
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