Music provides many benefits for people of all ages

I wrote last week about the importance of reminiscing; a process of life review that helps to unlock the entanglements of dementia and reconnect us with our past, which can help to make better sense of our present. Senior living centers also use music therapy to assist with the challenges that come with the aging process. Music is entertaining for many people, providing pleasure and contentment. But it has been found to produce many favorable psychological benefits as well. Music has the power to affect moods as well as inspire action.

Music therapy is an intervention sometimes utilized to promote emotional health, cope with stress, and generally boost psychological well-being. Other benefits may surprise you.

— Music can actually improve cognitive performance; it helps us think better. Music played softly in the background while performing a variety of tasks can actually improve performance of the job at hand. Instrumentals, however, work better than songs, since the lyrics may be more of a distraction. One study found that upbeat music helped speed up our ability to complete a task, while more soothing music helped increase memory.

— Music can help to reduce or manage stress because it especially affects the part of the nervous system that regulates key involuntary functions of the body, including: the activity of the heart muscle; the smooth muscles, including the muscles of the intestinal tract; and the glands. Studies have proven that people who listen to relaxing music or the simple sounds of nature, such as a babbling brook or wind through the pines, recover more quickly from a stressful situation. We are fortunate “up north” in that after a stressful day, we can take a walk in the woods to calm our nerves. If that relaxing environment is not easily accessible, there are many nature CDs that are just as effective.

— Music can help us eat less, so has been shown to be a surprising weight loss tool. Studies have actually documented that people listening to soft music in a more dimly lit room consumed 18 percent less food than those who ate in other environments. This type of music and lighting help to create a more relaxed setting in which food was consumed more slowly. Consequently, people became aware sooner that they were full. Mindless eating in front of a television is, by the way, the worst environment in which to consume a meal.

— Music can help to improve memory. A variety of studies showed a mix of results depending upon the musical knowledge of the subject. The more musically educated people responded better to neutral music rather than to more intricate melodies that became a distraction. One interesting study showed that learning a foreign language became easier when the new words and phrases were sung; the rhythm aided in the mind’s retention of the new vocabulary.

— Music can help manage pain. One interesting study of fibromyalgia patients showed that those who listened to music each day experienced less pain and depression. Another extensive study proved that surgical patients who listened to music before, during and after surgery experienced less pain and anxiety. It was found that patients who listened to music before their surgical procedure experienced better outcomes and needed less medication for pain control. This is particularly significant now that our country is fighting the opioid epidemic.

— Music can serve as an aid to better sleep. Insomnia is a serious problem for many and comes with devastating long-term health effects. Studies have shown that listening to soothing classical music played softly prior to bedtime is a highly effective sleep enhancer. I can personally attest to this. As a chronic insomniac, I noticed a positive difference when listening to soothing music at bedtime. I was able to fall asleep within 20 minutes and stayed asleep for a longer stretch of time.

— Music can improve motivation. There is a very good reason why people at the gym on cycles and treadmills are also plugged into their headsets listening to their playlists of favorite tunes. Fast-paced music improves exercise performance. Those exercising are able to ride or walk longer and faster and even have more fun doing it. As we age, exercise remains an important part of our lives, but it may be more difficult to find the motivation we need to accomplish it. Try adding music to your routine. Studies show it definitely helps.

Closely related to this is the fact that music also improves endurance and performance. Not only do we feel like exercising, we actually perform better when we listen to music. Research has proven that music listeners can run faster and farther than those who are not plugged into the beat. Even more interesting is that music has a greater influence on the average person than the professional athlete. The reason behind its effectiveness is that it provides a diversion for our minds. We actually do not notice our increased sweat, our faster breathing or our muscle soreness when we listen to music.

— Music can help to improve a bad mood. Listening to music is a well-known mood enhancer. And it is even more effective when paired with our own desire to get into a better mood. In short, the best remedy for a bad mood is to intentionally listen to music as a way to lift our spirits.

A bad mood does not indicate a problem with chronic depression. However, professionally conducted research has been done in the field of depression. Music therapy has been shown to be a safe and effective treatment not only for depression but also for neurological conditions such as dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease. No negative side effects were found as long as the music was classical or meditative; heavy metal or techno music had no effect and could even be detrimental for some people.

As we age, it is no secret that we find ourselves confronted with new health issues and limitations. It is very important to find ways to remain active and healthy so we can retain our independence for as long as possible. It is good to know that we can maintain, and even improve our physical, mental and emotional health through something as economical and accessible as music. So, plug in, and start humming those favorite tunes. The spring in your step is sure to return.

Note: Information used in this column was found in an article written by Kendra Cherry for the website verywellmind.com.

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Scenes and Sounds, 11:30 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Sunday: Toss across, 1 p.m.; dunking donuts, 2 p.m.; church, 2:15 p.m.

Monday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; brouhaha, 11 a.m.; library cart, 1:30 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; ice cream social, 3 p.m.

Tuesday: Crafts and gardening, 10:30 a.m.; reminisce, 1:15 p.m.; Kentucky Derby, 2 p.m.

Wednesday: Room visits, 10 a.m.; rosary, 10:30 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; Golden Throats, 2 p.m.; movie and popcorn, 3 p.m.

Thursday: Reading buddy, 11 a.m.; Bible study, 1:15 p.m.; pokereno, 2 p.m.; Chris & Larry sing along, 3 p.m.; “Lawrence Welk,” 4:30 p.m.

Friday: What’s cooking? 11 a.m.; pictionary, 1:15 p.m.; sing along, 2:30 p.m.; happy hour, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Meet and greet, 10:30 a.m.; daily newspaper, 11 a.m.; oldies but goodies, 1 pm; bingo, 2 p.m.; evening news, 6 p.m.

Iron County 

Medical Facility

Crystal Falls

Sunday: One-to-One church visitors, 8:30 to 11 a.m.; room visits, 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.; trivia teasers, 10 a.m.; bingorama, 2 p.m.; Church of Christ, 3 p.m.

Monday: Memory books, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; sunshine club, 2:30 p.m.; bonfire, 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday: CF library, 9:30 a.m.; book club, 10 a.m.; prayer, 10 a.m.; Ottawa Lake, 10 a.m.; wildlife film, 1:30 p.m.; current events, 2 p.m.; musical movie 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Yoga with Dodie, 10 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; getting pretty, 1:15 p.m.; men’s club, 2 p.m.; night bingo, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Puzzler, 9:30 a.m.; bowling, 10 a.m..; Bible study, 1 p.m.; travel film, 1:30 p.m.; Presbyterian church, 2 p.m.; happy hour, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Crafts, 9 to 10:30 a.m.; exercise, 11 a.m.; room visits, 1 p.m.; pig roast festivities, 1:30 to 3 p.m.; pig roast, 4:30 p.m.

Saturday: ICMCF word search/you be the judge, 10 a.m.; geri-gym, 11 p.m.; intergenerational social hour, 2 p.m.



Wet your whistle: 9:30 a.m. Sunday thru Saturday.

Exercise: 10 a.m. Sunday and Monday, Wednesday through Saturday.

Movie: 10:45 a.m. Sunday thru Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Monday thru Saturday.

Popcorn Day: every Friday

Sunday: Just jokes, 10:15 a.m.; morsels and more, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant church, 3 p.m.

Monday: Who, what, when, 10:15 a.m.; Crystal Hogan music, 2 p.m.; pokeno, 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Singing with Cindy, 10 a.m.; resident council/food committee, 2 p.m.; movie and manicure, 5:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Remembering when, 10:15 a.m.; monthly birthday party – Jim Edberg music, 2 p.m.; flip five on the patio, weather permitting, 5:45 p.m.

Thursday: Crosswords, 10:15 a.m.; “Deal/No Deal” bingo, 2 p.m.; magic moments, 5:45 p.m.

Friday: Manor Care monthly, 10:15 a.m.; Bob Larson music, 2 p.m.

Saturday: Current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.

Maryhill Manor

Niagara, Wis.

Rosary, 8:30 a.m. Sunday through Friday.

Sunday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; help your neighbor, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 1:30 p.m.; Protestant service, 2:30 p.m.

Monday: Protestant service, 9 a.m.; spelling bee, 10:15 a.m.; nickel jokereno, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Men’s breakfast, 7 a.m.; historical society outing, 10 a.m.; current events, 10:15 a.m.; bingo, 2 p.m.; concert — Just The Two of Us, 6:15 p.m.

Wednesday: Yoga, 10 a.m.; monthly birthday party with Ray & Mindy, 2 p.m.; Chaplet of Divine Mercy, 3 p.m.; campfire-karaoke, 6:15 p.m.

Thursday: Catholic Mass, 9 a.m.; Scattegories, 10:15 a.m.; religious bingo, 2 p.m.; help your neighbor, 6:15 p.m.

Friday: Bob Larson, 10 a.m.; happy hour with Jim D., 2 p.m.

Saturday: Baking, 10:15 a.m.; courtyard Yahtzee, 2 p.m.; pamper and polish, 5:45 p.m.

Victorian Pines

Iron Mountain

Juice time, 10 a.m. Sunday through Saturday.

Exercise, 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Shopping days: 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, must sign up.

Sunday: Bible study, 1:30 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Monday: Ray’s birthday, 2 p.m.

Tuesday: Music with Pastor Jim, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m.

Wednesday: Bingo, 2 p.m.; refreshments, 3 p.m. 

Thursday: Communion with Deacon Don, 10 a.m.; popsicles on the porch, 2 p.m.; rosary, 3 p.m.

Friday: Family picnic, 4 p.m.

Saturday: Movie and popcorn, 2 p.m.

Florence Health Services

Florence, Wis.

Morning news, 6 a.m. daily.

Beauty shop open Tuesday and Thursday

Sunday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; music with Grace and Dave, 2 p.m.; the Rev. Miller, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; fly swatter volley, 2 p.m.; room visits, 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Dyna stretch, 10 a.m.; music with Larry J., 2 p.m.; reading, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Chair exercise, 10 a.m.; Uno, 2 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 3:30 p.m.; Ski-ters water show at Badwater, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Pastor Jason, 10 a.m.; music with Valri, 2:30 p.m.

Friday: Catholic church service, 10 a.m.; flippo, 2 p.m.; sponge cake party, 3 p.m.

Saturday: Bingo, 10 a.m.; trivia, 2 p.m.; reminisce, 6 p.m.

Pinecrest Medical Care Facility


Sunday: Grace church, 10:15 a.m.; Uno, 10:30 a.m.; Pictionary, 2 p.m.; ball toss, 3:30 p.m.

Monday: Life connections, 9:45 a.m.; beauty shop, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; song service, 1:30 p.m.; rosary (second), 2:30 p.m.; ball toss, 3:30 p.m.; mind joggers, 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Outside social, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; social circle, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Wednesday: Bunco, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; birthday party, 2 p.m.; “Family Feud,” 3:30 p.m.; rummy, 6 p.m.

Thursday: Exercise, 10 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 p.m.; bingo, 1:45 p.m.; cards, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Friday: Outside social, 10:30 a.m.; busy bee, 12:45 a.m.; Jerry Beauchamp, 2 p.m.; fish fry outing, 3:30 p.m.; one-to-one visits, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Hand massage, 10:15 a.m.; life stories, 10:30 a.m.; manicures, 2 p.m.; sensory, 3:30 p.m.


Note: All centers ask for 24-hour advanced reservations for lunch. Those with meals delivered who will not be home should notify the center.

Alpha-Mastodon Center


Meal at noon every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Amasa Center


Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Lunch at noon.

Bingo on Tuesdays.

Free meal drawing on Thursdays.

Breen Center


Meals Monday through Friday.

Pasty sale every third Saturday of the month — except on holidays.  

Cards and games available 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 2 p.m. 

Hostess on duty Monday through Friday.   

Treats and coffee, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Center retail store is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; volunteers and donations are welcome.

Birthdays acknowledged every day.

Evening meals are on the first and third Thursday of the month. Salad bar opens at 4 p.m., with dinner at 5 p.m. Donations are $4 for those 60 and older and $5 for 60 and younger.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen


The center is not just for seniors — bring a friend.

Suggested meal donations: $5 over 60; $6 under 60; $ extra for take-out

Call Center by 1 p.m. with name and number of people to reserve meals.Open: Monday-Wednesday 4:30 p.m. — Soup and Salad Bar and 5 p.m. – Dinner

All dinners include the soup and salad bar, homemade dessert, tea, coffee and milk

Mondays: Basket weaving after dinner – all are welcome for dinner and/or the class. Beginners can make their first basket with materials provided.

Menu for the week of Aug. 19:

Monday: Homemade pizza

Tuesday: BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, oven fries, vegetables.

Wednesday: Grilled chicken, rice, vegetables.

Crystal Lake Center


The center is closed on weekends.

Monday: Woodcarvers, 10 a.m.; mahjong in dining hall, noon; Les Artistes Art Club, noon; Bridge Club, 12:15 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday: Pinochle, 12:30 p.m.

Thursdays: Two-person team cribbage from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: Billiards, 9:30 a.m.

Wednesday: Spinning Spools Quilters Guild, 1 p.m., crafters, scrapbookers and others also welcome; knitting and crocheting class, 1 to 3 p.m.

Friday: Smear, 12:30 p.m.

Last Saturday of the month: Music jam starting at 1 p.m. Admission is free. 

The Photo Club meets 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month.  

The kitchen is currently closed due to plumbing issues, and meals are being served at the Breen Center. Christine McMahon has information for all meals and can be reached at 906-774-2256, ext. 235. For transportation, call Buzzin’ Around Town at 906-282-0492. Rides are $3 for age 60 and older, and $3.50 for younger than 60. 

Transportation is available from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Felch Center


Meals served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday.

Bingo after lunch on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

A congregate jigsaw puzzle is done daily.

Aging and Disability Resource Center of Florence County, Wis.


Director: Tiffany White

Suggested donation for seniors older than 60 is $4 per meal. Residents younger than 60 must pay $7. Reservations and cancellations are needed 48 hours in advance.

The ADRC can assist area seniors and those with disabilities with transportation Monday through Friday. Transportation reservation should be made with meal reservation.

Menu for the week of Aug. 19:

Monday: Beef tips over noodles, beets, fruit, peanut butter bars;

Tuesday: Hash brown casserole with sausage, summer squash, salad, fruit;

Wednesday: Turkey croissant with lettuce and tomato, pasta salad with vegetables, watermelon, cookies;

Thursday: Chef’s salad with white beans, bread sticks, cottage cheese with peaches;

Friday: Baked chicken, sweet potato fries, green beans, pineapple.

Friday is Senior Day at the fair — transportation is available — call ADRC to make arrangements

Other assistance includes: information on aging, benefits specialist and caregiver support.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980 — RSVP for meal at 855-528-2372

Meal at noon Wednesdays only – same menu listed under ADRC. Reservations are requested. Cribbage and cards are available.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

RSVP for meal at 715-528-4261

Home-delivered meals are available. Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. at this center Monday through Thursday, with the same menu that is listed under ADRC. 

Tipler Town Hall

715-674-2320 – RSVP for meals.

Serving lunch at noon on the second Thursday of the month only — same menu as is listed under ADRC for that week.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491 — RSVP for meals

Meal is served at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday — the menu for each day is listed under ADRC. Transportation arrangements can be made to and from the meal site.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska


Meal is at noon Monday through Friday. Suggested donation is $3 for age 60 and older and $7 for those younger than 60. Morning coffee is available daily.

Fifteen games of “fun bingo” are played each Tuesday and Friday, along with a 50-50 drawing.

Tuesday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Cards played in the afternoon; call ahead to see if a game will be going on.

Friday: Bingo, 12:45 p.m.

Monday through Friday: Walking in the gym, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A treadmill also is available.

Enjoy friendly interaction with other crafters.

Iron River Center


Meals served 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; a $4 donation is encouraged from those 60 and older, and a $5 payment is required from those younger than 60. Thursday meal, 3:30 p.m. soup, 4 p.m. salad bar, with dinner 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Home-delivered meals are available — call 906-774-2256, ext. 235 or ext. 230.

Menu for the week of Aug. 19:

Monday: Enchilada casserole, rice, mexi corn, fruit, milk;

Tuesday: Smoked sausage, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, fruit, milk;

Wednesday: Hot dog, potato salad, calico beans, fruit, milk;

Thursday: Spaghetti and meatballs, Italian vegetables blend, bread sticks, dessert, milk.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Noon meals served Monday through Thursday. Transportation is available to the meal site for those living in the Niagara, Wis., area. Any senior groups that would like to use the meal site as a meeting place is welcome — join us for lunch and then stay for a meeting or social time. Wii games, cards, puzzles and board games are available to play. 

Other activities are in the works — suggestions are always welcome. 

Those who have not been at the meal site/senior center are invited to give it a try. Those who haven’t been here in a while are encouraged to come back.

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining


Monday through Thursday: Meals served at noon, with salad bar. Soup also is available at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Milk, juice, bread, fruit, tea and coffee served daily. Meal donation is $5. Reservation for the meal should be made in advance.

Two special-themed meals take place each month on Tuesday, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Two evening meals offered at 5 p.m. on the first Monday and third Wednesday of the month, with bingo, prizes and a 50-50 drawing.

Monday: Center Board Meeting at 10 a.m.

Menu for the week of Aug. 19:

Monday: Turkey bacon ranch wrap, potato salad, Brussel sprouts, salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert;

Tuesday: Finnish pancake, strawberries, sausage, hash browns, muffin, fruit, juice, dessert;

Wednesday: Noon — Fish sandwich on a bun, baked beans, carrots, salad bar, fruit, juice, dessert; 5 p.m. — BBQ ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, soup and salad bar, dessert;

Thursday: Porcupine meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, soup and salad bar, juice, dessert.

Cards are played daily after the noon meal.

Craft and exercise classes: Mondays and Thursdays.

Ceramic and art classes: Wednesdays.

Puzzles always in the works.

Note: File of Life packets are available at the center.

Sagola Center


Meals: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

Cards: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Commodities every other month and quarterly commodities are every three months.

A puzzle table is available to enjoy. Volunteers are always welcome. 


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