The Benefits of Drum Circles for Cognitive and Emotional Well-being in Senior Living


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In recent years, drumming has crossed the border from being an integral activity endorsed by many ceremonial and ritual events to a popular hobby that’s all the rage among people of all ages and genders.

The practice of drumming can be hosted at many social gatherings and public places like schools, hospitals, nursing homes, senior living communities, and hospices, with plenty of studies highlighting that rhythmic drumming can be highly beneficial for seniors’ bodies and minds. Learn more about drumming and drum circles for seniors and the top 8 reasons why seniors should consider joining one when they have a chance.


Drum Circles for Seniors: How Rhythmic Drumming Promotes Better Health & Living For Seniors

What Is a Drum Circle?

A drum circle is a spontaneous social setting where people gather to play drums and other percussion instruments while seated on chairs or standing in a circle. The circle can be as small as just a few participants or as extensive as a gathering of 100 people or even more, depending on the size of the event.

The best thing about joining a drum circle is that it does not discriminate or require participants to have experiences or a firm understanding of music. Anyone can join in, start drumming, and enjoy the sound of music. It is essential to recognize that a drum circle is far different from a drum class or performance, with the main focus being facilitating a sense of social belonging for participants instead of creating music.

There are two primary forms of drum circles: facilitated and community. Facilitated drumming refers to a drum circle led by a facilitator (or leader) responsible for guiding the participants through the process. Conversely, community drumming leans towards greater freedom of expression, with people incorporating, playing drums, and improvising their rhythms in public.


The Benefits of Drumming for Seniors

In a society where more and more seniors can’t help feeling left out, nothing’s quite like sitting down with friends, banging on drums, and loosening up their bodies to music. More than a musical pursuit and cultural activity that brings people together, researchers discovered that drumming may potentially do many favors for older adults. Here are the top 8 reasons it may be worth adding drumming into your seniors’ weekly routine.


Enhances Social Life


One of the most talked-about benefits of drum circles for seniors is that it helps seniors living alone or having a hard time making friends manifest a strong sense of community and enhance their social cohesion. Given that people from different cultural backgrounds bond over music, seniors have more opportunities to communicate without words and better connect with others through drum circles while jamming to the rhythm of drumming. Encourage your parents to join community drumming circles if they are music lovers or too shy to mingle in loud and crowded music festivals and concerts.


Keeps Seniors Active

You have probably heard about DrumFit — a brand-new way of exercise that gets the body up and moving. While DrumFit or cardio drumming can be tough on seniors’ aging bones and fragile joints, drumming can serve as an alternative to the novel exercise for seniors to stay fit (and cool!), maintain their fitness levels, and improve their upper body strength — all at once and in a fun way. Whether they practice drumming with drumsticks or bare hands, such activity as beating a drum requires the participants to coordinate and sync their arm movements with the rhythmic beats.

Another benefit of drumming is that it helps with blood circulation, greatly advancing seniors’ cardiovascular health.


Promotes Brain Health


Drumming is not all about tapping, beating, and hitting; at least, that’s what we think. Such an activity requires a person to synchronously coordinate their brain with hand movements to get the rhythm right with other participants. Drumming with both hands helps promote the brain’s left and right hemispheres as you simultaneously use your dominant and non-dominant hands during the entire process. An active brain means boosted brain health.


Promotes Emotional Expression

In addition to robust health, joining a drum circle has been proven to give room for emotional expression. With its potent health properties, the act of drumming helps seniors tap out of their emotional baggage and make peace with a multitude of intense, unresolved emotions that they find hard to come to terms with, such as sadness, anger, fear, agitation, and grief. In many ways, a drum circle is a haven for many seniors, making them feel safe, understood, and protected. It is a place where everyone is encouraged to creatively express themselves through tempo, dynamics, rhythms, and beat changes.


May Defend Against Depression


While many believe that a drum circle helps elevate mood because it helps seniors interact with new people, it’s even better than that. When it comes to battling depressive symptoms, drumming with repetitive and rhythmic beats is powerfully therapeutic in a way that it induces the brain’s Alpha waves and stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals, such as endorphins. Meaning drumming can be an incredible ally in staving off depression and associated symptoms.

Advise your parents or loved ones to try drumming if they are dealing with distressing thoughts. They can feel more content by replacing negative thoughts with happier ones when attending a drum circle.


Reduces Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are two prevalent mental conditions endured by millions of people around the world, taking a toll on 40 million adults in the United States alone. Even though they are treatable with prompt interventions and treatments, not many people actively look for a way out, as they assume that it will get better with time.

However, the good news is that several natural techniques are proven to relieve anxious feelings and reduce high-stress levels, and drumming is one of them. Drumming helps alleviate negative emotions associated with stress and anxiety and boosts the mood, all thanks to the production of endorphins (as discussed earlier).


Eases Chronic Pain


How does tapping on a drum help ease chronic pain? Surprisingly, modest research and studies have concluded that drumming can relieve pain, with its mechanism to divert a person from the pain experienced. It means that when playing a drum or a percussion instrument, a person is more likely to focus on the drumming than their persistent pain, accompanied by feel-good body chemicals dispensed during a drumming session.


Fosters Positive Energy


Fostering more positive energy is another benefit of drum circles for seniors. When sitting in a circle and drumming with fellow participants or close friends, seniors have an easier time cultivating positive energy, happiness, and pleasure due to increased dopamine and serotonin levels.


If you have questions about drumming, drum circles for seniors, or any topics discussed here, connect with us and learn more. 

At 12 Oaks, our team of caring professionals is dedicated to keeping residents safe, engaged, and connected to their families and friends while leading fulfilling lives. 12 Oaks senior living communities are an ideal place to enjoy the encore season of life.

For questions or to schedule a personalized tour, don’t hesitate to contact us. 


Searching for senior living help? At 12 Oaks Senior Living, we would love to learn more about your unique needs and the opportunity we may have to help you meet them. Our blog is one of the valuable resources we provide to inform and encourage seniors to lead fulfilling and thriving lives. Contact us today to schedule a visit.

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