Beginner Guitar Lessons have cognitive and physical benefits that may prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, learning to play the guitar can also:
- enhance problem solving skills
- exercise spatial and visualization processes in the brain
- alleviate anxiety, stress and depression
- boost self-esteem
- maintain finger and hand flexibility
- lower blood pressure
- reduce muscle tension
- provide opportunities for social interaction
- contribute to brain plasticity
Published research results exist which supports a definite correlation between one’s physical health and one’s psychological state.
Consistently thinking negatively about yourself and the world around you alters brain chemistry, causing instability of mood-controlling neurotransmitter levels. This, in turn, affects the severity of depressed feelings experienced by someone enmeshed in negative thought.
Depressed states directly affect human physiology by causing:
- back pain
- chest pain (mimics heart attack pain)
- fatigue and excessive sleepiness
- lack of appetite
Activities for senior citizen centers, such as beginner guitar lessons, are meant to furnish the older mind with positive and satisfying stimulation that contributes to a healthier lifestyle. Before the invention of MRI’s and CAT’s, scientists thought the brain was incapable of changing after a certain age.
However, we now know that the brain continues to exhibit plasticity even into one’s 80’s and 90’s, and thrives on brain fitness exercises such as crossword puzzles, artistic endeavors and learning how to play the guitar.
Influence on Alzheimer’s
In a 2006 study conducted at the University of New South Wales in Australia, vigorous and regular brain stimulation reduced the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s by 50%. According to the “cognitive reserve” hypothesis supporting the results of this study, it is possible for the brain to cultivate resistance to neural decline in later years and delay the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Senior citizens who are already suffering from mild symptoms of dementia also show cognitive improvement when taking guitar lessons.
Signs of mild dementia include:
- avoiding new situations
- beginning to speak more slowly
- making inappropriate or ineffectual decisions
- depression and irritability
- occasionally losing sense of direction
These symptoms also mimic the long-term effects of social isolation. Longitudinal studies on seniors who are encouraged to participate in brain fitness programs, such as learning to play the guitar in a group setting, show marked reversals of these symptoms and a decreased risk of experiencing Alzheimer’s or Alzheimer-like symptoms.
Although research has yet to discover a definite cause of Alzheimer’s, it is apparent that continuing to stimulate the brain with activities conducive to cognitive functioning, such as beginner guitar lessons, is an excellent and enjoyable activity in which seniors can participate and socialize with other future, senior guitar players.
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