Study sings the praises of choir membership for lonely older adults

Article Image

A University of California, San Francisco study reveals older adults who sing in a choir for six months have reduced feelings of loneliness and increased interest in life.

Posted: Apr 12, 2019 11:00 AM
Updated: Apr 12, 2019 11:00 AM

Isabel Heredi took her place among the altos.

"When we sing, we feel this emotion of happiness and enjoyment," said the member of the 30th Street Older Adult Chorus.

With kind eyes and a voice shimmering with joy, she embodies the conclusion of a recent study called "Community of Voices."

"We discovered that older adults singing in a choir for six months had a reduction in their feelings of loneliness and also an increase in their interest in life," said neuroscientist Julene Johnson of the University of California, San Francisco. The university, along with the nonprofit San Francisco Community Music Center and the city's Department of Aging and Adult Services, tracked 400 older adults in the study.

A previous study at UCSF revealed that people over 60 who felt lonely had a 45% increased risk of death.

"We think that the arts are particularly innovative for helping to improve health inequities in these communities," said Johnson.

Heredi agreed as she spoke to CNN after choir rehearsal. "Having a schedule, having to go out and enjoy what you are doing is very important, and singing has additional importance because it has an emotional component."

Choir member Annelise Mitchell says singing has enhanced her social skills.

"I sing in two choirs, so I'm around a lot of people and I'm getting better at talking to people."

The study resonated so well that the participants continued with their choirs after the research ended.

"We heard from members how the choir had changed their lives and how they wanted and needed to keep singing," said Maria Cora, older adult program coordinator for the San Francisco Community Music Center.

The organization obtained a grant to keep the music flowing. Cora said some members have extended their musical interest. Singing has emboldened them to learn to read music, play an instrument and even enlist a vocal coach.

Meantime, the National Institutes of Health has funded a manual to help other communities launch their own choirs and spread the same palpable glee Isabel Heredi intones whenever she steps on to the risers.

"I'm so glad to be in this choir," added Heredi.

Article Comments

Mason City
Few Clouds
77° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 78°
Albert Lea
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
Austin
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 75°
Charles City
Few Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 75°
Rochester
Few Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 74°
Tracking Our Next Chance for Severe Weather
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

${article.thumbnail.title}

Storm Team 3: Severe storms possible later this week

Image

Making youth sports affordable

Image

local sports program helps players become community leaders

Image

"What's On Wednesdays" in St. Charles

Image

Tracking a Sunny Start to Wednesday

Image

Re election kickoff watch party

Image

Rallying for Sudan

Image

Extra speed enforcement

Image

Local sports highlights from Tuesday

Image

Renewing the Mental Health Coordinator

Community Events