You are here

Music may have negative impact on views of old age

Music may have negative impact on views of old age
9th March 2016

Researchers have suggested that hit songs could play a role in the negative perceptions some people have of growing older.

The work, published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, looked at 76 pop records that referenced ageing from a variety of databases including Music Lyric Database, Songfacts, The Macronium and Absolute lyrics.

Led by Jacinta Kelly, senior lecturer in nursing at Anglia Ruskin University, the study found that nearly three-quarters (55 songs) of these hits featured lyrics about getting older that were less than positive.

Popular artists like the Beatles, the Who and Elton John were put on this "negative list" for focusing on the perceived disadvantages of ageing. In contrast, singers like Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Dusty Springfield were found to be presenting later life in a much more positive light.

Songs such as Forever Young were praised for their positive references of growing older.

All of the lyrics that were looked at during the research were categorised into either "contented and celebrated aged", "pitiful and petulant pensioners" or "frail and flagging old folks".

Ms Kelly says popular music can be a powerful tool for influencing behaviour and attitudes, and it should be used responsibly.

She said the messages coming out from the negative songs can have an impact on people's confidence by presenting images of the elderly as being frail and a burden.

"While it may prove an impossible task, as well as an infringement on the freedom of expression, to censor negative portrayals of old age, it is important that awareness is raised and some efforts are made to reduce these negative stereotypes," she added.

When choosing a care home, it's important to look at the activities and therapies offered. Having a wide variety of options to choose from can enable people to retain their independence as they grow older, which has a positive impact on their mental and physical health.

Find the nearest Barchester care home.