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Older men, music and health

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Sam de Boise

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As part of the research school Successful Ageing, this study focuses on retired men and how engagement in music interacts with their mental health. The overarching research question is: How can musical engagement interact with the mental health and wellbeing amongst older men? As a first part study, 15 interviews were conducted with men 66-76 years old, who all had a strong engagement in music without being professional musicians. The study seeked to answer the questions what and why, that is: what types of musical engagement were there and what rewards did the informants experience from their engagement in music. Qualitative thematic analysis suggests that the men engage in music since they experience that it helps them to be in contact with their emotionality, which is something they lack in their everyday lives. Music also gives them social rewards such as strengthened friendship relations and improved contact with significant others who have got dementia or other diseases. For the second part study a music listening support group was conducted, with eight men 64-86 years old and with different challenges in life such as loneliness, poor economy, anxiety and self-medication with alcohol. The men met 16 x 90 minutes to listen to music of their own choice and discuss emotions, memories or other associations connected to the music listening. The results are being analysed with thematic content analysis.