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How the Habit of Humming Benefits the Elderly

MsDora, former teacher and counselor, is fascinated by the prospect of joyful aging. She explores and shares habits of happy seniors.

How the Habit of Humming Benefits the Elderly

How the Habit of Humming Benefits the Elderly

Awakened by the Sound of a Melodic Hum

Minutes to midnight, I awake to the sound of a melodic hum. It is coming from my mother sitting in the dark living room, unaware of the hour. I turn on the light. With one hand on her cane and the other holding a little bundle in her lap, she is as charming as any little old lady can be.

“I was going for a walk up the street,” she offered, “but I got tired and I sat down to rest.”

Dead bolts on our doors do not prevent my mind from wandering through the what ifs. Eventually, my thoughts drift back to the hum. For me, it is probably the balm that keeps my anxieties in check; but what is it for her?

My curiosity leads me to research whether there is any concern about the habit of humming in elderly people. There are a few surprises.

The Nuisance Hum

My first surprise is the complaints of family members whose relatives are suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The habit of humming in their elderly people can be described by one or more of the following phrases:

  • constant even in public places
  • while eating or while in conversation
  • the same tune over and over
  • sometimes not a tune, just a monotone buzz

Relatives and caregivers label these hums “little annoying,” “a nuisance,” and “driving us all crazy.” Any sound can be annoying to individuals who prefer silence; but hopefully after considering the reasons for the hum, individuals dealing with the elderly and the demented will be more caring, unselfish and tolerant.

Besides, the experts explain that unlike what humming does to the annoyed, the effect is entirely different to those who have the habit:

"Humming calms the nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system."1

"It can be extremely effective as a 'self-soothing mechanism' because the individual may be able to rely on [himself or] herself instead of seeking gratification from others."2

Humming decreases the sense of loneliness indoors or outdoors.

Humming decreases the sense of loneliness indoors or outdoors.

The Camouflage Hum

Imagine sitting alone in the darkness, not understanding why. The cocktail of emotions including loneliness, powerlessness and confusion is difficult to express. Faith and hope are distant but not absent, for they bring to mind a phrase from a hymn of comfort. No memory of the first line but the melody plays and the tune is enough for the moment. The hum kicks in and camouflages all the inner chaos.

Probably, this is what humming does for my mother. When there are different mixes of emotions and the situation is strange and puzzling, the hum covers up the confusion. Perhaps also, her new habit of humming does not annoy me, because it is so much more pleasant than her old habit of speaking accusations (which is characteristic of Alzheimer's).

"Humming and singing with Alzheimer's is . . . very common and seems to provide comfort to the individual."3

"Humming . . . reduces the number of thoughts that fill your head. When you are humming there is no room for over thinking."4

The Good Mood Hum

The elderly, especially when they lose their recent memory, regress to the memories of earlier years. This seemed to be the situation in which a daughter sought help to escape her mother’s constant humming of a childhood song. The elderly woman might have been remembering happier times and reliving her happiness through her hum.

On the other hand, it is not unusual for the individual in the shower, or listening to a song on the radio to engage in a quiet hum. Sometimes, it is not about forgetting the words; it is just that humming nurtures the good feeling. The elderly who hum may be just maintaining the good mood feeling which replaces the confusion and the fear brought on by their illnesses.

"Humming a childhood song can be a means of reminiscing on happier times."5

"There is no scientific reason that makes people want to hum when they’re in a good mood. It just happens."6

Humming accommodates smiling for an even greater camouflage.

Humming accommodates smiling for an even greater camouflage.

How These Facts Affect Us

I almost mentioned "the rest of us" forgetting that I belong to the group of elderly people we're reading about. I’m sure that some of my readers do too. We may soon begin our constant humming, but while we still have some control, we do well to engage in humming intentionally.

The research shows that:

"Humming is naturally calming and refreshing for the mind.

Humming can greatly increase oxygenation and blood flow not just in the sinus cavities by also in the brain and elsewhere in the body."7

One year after I first published this article, my mother is still humming. Her humming affects me positively. While she hums, there is no need to force a conversation, to try entertaining her or making her comfortable. She is relaxed and content with whatever thoughts the tune brings. The hum is a pacifier for her and an exhaling moment for me.

By the way, briefly humming along with the elderly to a tune we recognize may open an opportunity for talking about the song, the memories, and the feelings. Exercise good judgment on when to intrude. Be kind and start the conversation with a complimentary remark about the humming.

References

1, 4. Fogarty, Carole: Rejuvenation Lounge, The 12 Instant Benefits of Humming Daily, (August 6, 2009).

2, 5. Health Central: AFA Social Services, Health Guide, Alzheimer's Disease (January 5, 2009).

3. Bergman, Helene: Caring.com, Is constant humming or singing common with Alzheimer's? (November 28, 2014).

6. Andrews, Linda Wasmer: Minding the Body, Hum a Happy Tune for Wellness (November 21, 2011).

7. Maya: Sing and Hum Bumble Bee, Humming for Health, (Copyright 2007-2011)

Humming Poll

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: How can I make myself stop humming?

Answer: Why do you want to stop humming? There are health benefits as you will find in "Hum a Happy Tune for Wellness." Please Google the title. The subtitle says, "Humming may ease stress, boost happiness, and soothe sinuses."

You will also find more benefits in "12 Benefits of Humming Daily." Please Google this title also. You will read that "Covering your ears greatly intensifies and magnifies the sensation of the hum flowing through your head and body." Humming is good for you.

There are times when you are not humming: when chewing your food, when speaking to someone, when listening, when laughing and so on. When you do find yourself humming, enjoy it. Even on your job if you keep it real low, your mood will be happier than most. Make adjustments, if necessary, but keep humming.

Question: My grandma has been humming constantly. How can we make her stop humming?

Answer: Consider again the following statements and then decide if you really want to stop your grandma's humming:

"Humming . . . reduces the number of thoughts that fill your head. When you are humming there is no room for over thinking."

"Humming is naturally calming and refreshing for the mind."

"Humming can greatly increase oxygenation and blood flow not just in the sinus cavities by also in the brain and elsewhere in the body."

"Humming a childhood song can be a means of reminiscing on happier times."

In addition, more than 700 people who read my article responded to the poll that they hum daily.

I've started humming too. I pray that my children and grandchildren never try to make me stop.

© 2014 Dora Weithers

Comments

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 12, 2020:

Charlotte, fear not. Hope you're not diagnosing yourself with Alzheimer's. Everybody who hums is not a victim. It may help to talk with your physician who can offer you some guidance into changes that come with aging. Also have your daughter do some research, even reading this article. Humming should help you feel good, not make you scared.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 12, 2020:

Eric, there's a time for everything. Why not for humming? Seems that you had fun.

Charlotte Colbert on January 11, 2020:

I started humming about 2 years ago, and it scares me because it is unintentional. It embarrasses me because my daughter always asks, "Why are you humming?" And I don't have an answer, it is always just the same part of an unknown song. My mother had Alzheimer's who died at 86 and started showing symptoms around 76. I was just hoping I could hold out a little longer since I just turned 70.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 03, 2019:

This just popped up so Gabe and I hummed. Maybe as good for a 9 year old as for this million year old fellow (do not tell anyone - we did Chuck Berry)

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on June 03, 2019:

Leon, maybe after reading this you will not try so hard to break the habit. Perhaps, in public (when necessary) you will be more mindful not to be a disturbance, but some people might actually enjoy the whistling. Just don't be too hard on yourself. Thanks for your contribution.

Leon Williams on June 03, 2019:

I much enjoyed you sharing your real life comments and information ( along with further references ). I have been trying to break this habit. All day, every day even in between thoughts, constantly. I don't exactly humm, it is more like a whispering sound. Sometimes it transfers to a whistle. I don't mind it so much except when I do it in public. Thanks to you I see this in a different light. This might be a type of self therapy. Maybe I can control it seeing benefits that I did not know. Thanks so much.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 10, 2019:

Patricia, it was only when my mother began to hum more than usual that I realized the significance it has for the elderly. It was easy for me to embrace it and I wish it were so for everyone else. I always appreciate the angels and I pray you get your fair share of visits.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 10, 2019:

So thoughtfully shared...so filled with compassion you!! Love teaches us to enjoy the humming. Thank you for your insightful sharing. Angels are on the way ps

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 10, 2019:

Tim, your father was intent to keep his peace of mind regardless of his physical suffering. Your attitude toward him only helped. You were a blessing to each other. Thanks for sharing.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 10, 2019:

I read this article remembering how my dad hummed a lot while fighting cancer. When I asked him, "Dad why do you hum so much?" His reply was, "Son, when you hum the devil don't know what you're talking about." I understand it can be stressful and painful to know someone you love is suffering, but at the same time, I knew it brought him some peace. Wonderful article, Ms. Dora. Thanks.

Sincerely,

Tim

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 07, 2019:

Lauren, I have great sympathy for you, having to listen to constant, tuneless humming. Your situation seems to be beyond anything I imagined. The fact that you have considered the options you mentioned speaks kindly of you as a caregiver. I pray strength and blessings on you sufficient for your responsibility.

The online suggestions I have seen for a caregiver in a similar case are not enough for you. It seems that instead of asking how to stop the humming, we need to ask how to protect you. You need regular respite. Can someone else stay with you for an hour while you plug your ears? Is it possible for you to spend a day or weekend away while someone else provides substitute care? You need time for refreshing and renewal.

I also know how hard the decision is to submit your loved one to institutional care, and the complex mix of emotions which can accompany that decision. Please get some counsel from someone who can listen to all the facts and advise you. There are only so many sacrifices you can make, and only for so long. Your survival is optimum. Praying that you find that workable solution!

Lauren on March 06, 2019:

I understand all the optimistic ways one can look at this, but regardless of the knowledge that humming can be self-soothing, etc., etc., I am having an awful time coping with my mother's humming of the same four-note pattern over and over and over (imagine me writing that for 6 pages...that's how it feels on an auditory level). The source of the melody has long be lost - there's no song to recognize. She has no awareness of the humming, and only stops if she is deeply absorbed in a TV show or reading (which she can only do for a limited time). Playing music she knows does not help, unless she's with me at a singing rehearsal. Then, there's something to see and hear, so that's nice for her. Otherwise, she'll hum her own notes with the other music playing, which is even more hard to handle - two different concurrent melodies. I can happily address my mom's occasional incontinence, showering her, coloring her hair, making all her meals, getting her dressed, tending to all her medical needs, taking her out for walks, but the humming is THE most stressful thing that we experience with her. Some even say with great earnestness and a polly-anna-esque devotion that I might miss it when she stops 'cause it would imply that she has declined even more (or passed away). Yet, regardless of what it might indicate, NO, most certainly, I will not miss the non-stop humming. I have considered wearing ear plugs, but I need to be able to hear things in my house throughout the day. So, I find things to do in other rooms away from her now and then, which is terribly sad on many levels. Or, I have the TV on more than I'd prefer. Also, I worry that if/when she is to live in a senior home, will the fellow residents be particularly harsh with her re. the non-stop humming? Will she be alienated, shunned? I don't want that for her. In the many places I visited, none of the residents I saw were humming.

Thank you for listening. I wanted so share that some of us, (and I consider myself a loving and fun daughter and caregiver for my mother) cannot cope well with the repetitive sounds. I take anti-anxiety medication to help, yet it's the single most challenging part of being her caregiver.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 03, 2019:

Thanks, Yves. My mother has passed on. I'm the one humming now and my mind is still pretty clear.

Yves on March 02, 2019:

Good to know, Ms. Dora. I don't know anyone suffering from Alzheimer's disease, but if that changes, I'll certainly appreciate the humming. (Hopefully, that person won't be me!) How lovely it is that you are caring for your elderly mother and that her humming brings you as much calm as it does to her.

After having read this article, my thoughts go out to those poor aging people whose children complain about the humming. One can only pray that their mind and hearts will be somehow enlightened.

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on March 27, 2018:

Haha, I will probably drive everyone crazy Dora!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 27, 2018:

Margie, thanks for your input. I am still learning to whistle; lucky you. I wonder if that means you will whistle instead of hum in your later years.

Margie's Southern Kitchen from the USA on March 26, 2018:

Dora I never hum but I do whistle a lot, especially when I am busy in the kitchen! Very interesting article. Thanks!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 25, 2017:

Southandmain, it is selfish of me to expect everyone to respond the way I would to the humming of a parent. I hear you, and I am sorry if I offended you. I sympathize with your situation. Truly, it is not a cakewalk and I pray for you strength, patience, and all the skills you need to survive while you care for your parent. Thanks for your contribution to this important matter.

Southandmain on May 25, 2017:

Being a caregiver is difficult. Caring for an aging parent who's not all that old yet while grieving the loss of the other at a younger than average age is difficult. Being annoyed by noises someone makes is not selfish. When these responsibilities fall on you at any age, it's not a cakewalk. I still have hopes of marriage & having a family of my own, yet I'm spending those years unanticipatedly caring for a parent. ...who hums...and sings...and grunts...and sighs...it is not selfish to be annoyed by these sounds. Knowing why maymake it easier to find patience when those sounds occur. It's also scary to see the parent you didn't lose slip away slowly and emotionally painfully. I can be understanding and patient in those moments of incessant sounds, and knowing why they're occurring does help, but there has to be a safe place to admit that it's hard and that those sounds do not always bring peace but sometimes bring sadness, frustration, annoyance, and fear. Thank you for sharing such an informative perspective on this issue, but please don't claim someone is selfish for being annoyed by something when they're already doing all they can do to try to keep their own life in order, work, pay bills, etc. & they're trying to keep a fairly young aging parent together while also mourning the loss of the other parent.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on May 21, 2017:

S Brown, thanks for sharing. Your mom-in-law has certainly found a good reason to hum. If it is more pleasant than the sound of the crickets, it's worth it.

S brown on May 20, 2017:

My mom in-law hums because she has tinnitus (we think) and she says she hums all the time to cover up the "crickets" and ringing she hears

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on April 10, 2017:

Robin, I am so happy that my article brought back happy memories of your papaw humming. May those sweet sounds comfort and bless you whenever he enters your thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

Robin on April 08, 2017:

The memories of sitting and listening to my papaw hum while sitting in his recliner always bless me. He had a beautiful voice and always seemed happy when he was humming even though he couldn't see. He has macular degeneration. I remember listening to him sing in church and he would always hum sometimes hymns and sometimes just a little tune he made up. He was a fine Godly man an I miss him dearly.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 28, 2017:

Thank you Audrey. We cannot help the elderly without sowing seeds for our own help. If we appreciate their humming, we make it easier for them to make it easier for us the caregivers.

Audrey Howitt from California on March 28, 2017:

I am not sure if my comment went through--anyway, this is a beautiful and compassionate hub--and so very true--I love everything about this hub!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 17, 2017:

Thanks, Tamarajo. Kudos to you and your grandchildren for being caring toward the nursing home residents. Glad to help you appreciate their humming.

Tamarajo on March 16, 2017:

The biological effects of humming is so interesting. My grandchildren and I frequently visit the nursing home and there is a lot of humming going on. I will forever see this in a new way and be able to explain to the little ones how this soothes and calms them.

It might be something of benefit for all ages.

A very informational and useful article. I appreciate also your insights and suggestions.

God bless!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on March 06, 2017:

N Kiddie, there are health benefits to singing and I have an article titled 5 Health Factors Which Singing Can Improve. Thanks for your comment and do keep singing!

Nicole K on March 06, 2017:

Wow, what a great topic to write about! I've never thought about the benefits of humming, but it's very interesting! I do sing pretty much every day, whether it is while doing dishes, or with my kids, or in the car to the radio, etc. Sometimes I do occasionally hum as well. I wonder if some of the benefits of singing are also similar to the benefits of humming? Thanks for a great hub!

Joanne on February 28, 2017:

This was a beautiful article. Thank you for sharing about your mother's experience. I took part in my grandparents care and they both hummed. It was never annoying, and in fact it was comforting. I am a bodyworker, and yoga instructor. I also had long turns in the multiple choirs. Humming is therapeutic and is a great practice for all of us no matter what stage of life.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 24, 2017:

Dream, great idea to see whether your aunt will join you in humming a tune with which she is familiar. And you keep on humming!

DREAM ON on February 24, 2017:

I enjoy humming when I am thinking. My wife finds it aggravating so I hum when she's not around. I have an aunt who is suffering from dementia and just recently she has become paranoid about people kicking her out or arresting her for stealing the family pictures on the wall. A good article and I wonder if she hums she will feel better. Maybe we can hum something together. Thank you so much for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 23, 2017:

Thanks, Kiss. Does that mean you'll start humming? You may enjoy that too.

kiss and tales on February 23, 2017:

Enjoyed this Hub very much .

Thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 23, 2017:

Mary, thanks and welcome to the hummers band. As you realize, it can only help.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 22, 2017:

Good to know how much humming can help our health. I will do it more often. As always, I enjoyed your hub. It hits a chord.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 21, 2017:

OBD, welcome to HubPages and thanks for your visit. Glad you share my positive opinion about the comfort that results from humming. Keep humming yourself, and the best to you and your mom, going forward.

oldblackdog on February 21, 2017:

I have read a ton on aging and the maladies that often come with it Anything that helps someone preserve themselves with a little more comfort is good. My own mom is 94 and not much of a hummer, and I either sing or talk to myself sometimes when alone. It keeps me focused, and as another writer said, helps drown out the tinnitis.

This speaks clearly to relatives and caregivers: it's a blessing not a curse.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on August 30, 2016:

Mary, thanks for sharing. Whistling in sleep sounds so interesting. Glad that the article helped you figure it out. Best to you and your dad going forward.

Mary on August 30, 2016:

Thank you, Mona. My dad whistles constantly and tonight I found him whistling apparently in his sleep. Your article helped me understand more about why he does this. Thank you!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on February 24, 2016:

Thanks, Mona. I'm with you with the humming. I'm accustomed to my mother's and it's not bad at all.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on February 24, 2016:

I can live with some humming and as I age will probably hum even more. The research you put into this made the article so much more credible and more interesting, too.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 31, 2016:

Rajan, glad to write something that is new information for you. Thanks for your comment.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 30, 2016:

Very interesting. I had no idea this benefitted our health and those of the elderly in those health conditions as well. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 24, 2015:

Dolores, thanks for commenting and sharing about your husband. I cannot say what his humming means, but I put "monotone humming" in my browser and several articles came up. You might want to read about it, and even inform his doctor who might have specific answers for you. Best of health to you and your husband going forward! I'm glad you stopped by.

MsDolores on October 24, 2015:

My husband is 65 years old. Over the last 6 months he has been humming a monotone sound. Its the same over and over. It's not a song. None of us have said anything to him about it. If he's not talking he's making that sound no matter where we are. He does not show any signs of dementia. I just want to know what's caused this sudden change.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 14, 2015:

JG, you encourage me. Thanks!

jgshorebird on October 13, 2015:

Thanks. I learned something.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2015:

Jodah, keep humming, and I'm sure that the memories of your mother's humming are pleasant ones. I've been meaning to do more of it, myself. It produces a feel-good mood.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 06, 2015:

MsDora, this was a very interesting hub and I am glad you wrote it. I don't understand how anyone could get upset with their elderly family members humming, but I suppose if it was always the same tune. I hum from time to time instead of singing along to a song, and I can remember my mother humming while she did housework. Thank you for sharing this.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 06, 2015:

Patricia, and now your mother's humming provides a good memory for you. That's sweet. Thank you for sharing, and as usual--for the angels.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 05, 2015:

How cool is this...humming is even comforting to me....I enjoy humming along to songs too.

I can remember my Momma humming a lot throughout her lifetime. She was such a positive person even though she faced many difficult journeys. Perhaps the humming really did soothe her raw edges.

Sending Angels your way this evening ps

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Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 05, 2015:

Glad you enjoyed it, RTalloni. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on October 05, 2015:

Dirt Farmer, neither did I. Out of curiosity concerning my mother's humming, I did the research. Nine months after, she's till humming; and I'm still forgetting to do it more often. Thanks for your comment.

RTalloni on October 05, 2015:

Thanks for a neat read with information worth discussing and sharing, as indicated by the comments that have already come in.

Jill Spencer from United States on October 05, 2015:

I never knew that humming was such a complex event. People are amazing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 28, 2015:

Elsie, you're an encouragement to the hummers. Thanks for affirming the value of humming.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 28, 2015:

Chitrangada, thanks for sharing your encouraging views and keep humming.

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on January 28, 2015:

Beautiful article. I enjoy listening to anyone humming, not only the elderly, it gives me a feeling of peace and happiness.

Thanks for sharing.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on January 13, 2015:

Wonderful hub and I agree that humming helps a lot not only the elderly but at any age. And how cute is that to see an elderly woman humming! Very sweet---I just wish that all elderly people should keep smiling and be happy.

Humming keeps you positive and is a great therapy if you are feeling low or lonely.

I do humming and even sing a lot when I am surrounded by my loved ones. This is just to express my happiness.

Excellent hub and lovely pictures! Voted up!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 06, 2015:

BradmasterOCcal, welcome to the idiosyncracies of the aging. As you have seen, the humming is much more welcome than scenarios like those you describe. It helps to share here on HP. Hope you hang around.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on January 06, 2015:

Judy, so you're a hummer and a singer. I'm sure you're good to be around. You had a good start with your parents. Thanks for sharing.

Brad on January 06, 2015:

Interesting hub.

However, my mother in law doesn't hum tunes, only sounds like that of starting to clear your throat.

I think that it is a habit when she is alone that carries over to all the time.

The slightest thing can cause her to generate a whole scenario that is not real. She hasn't slept in here bed since her husband died four years ago. She is afraid to fall asleep because she thinks that someone is coming for her. And if she falls asleep from exhaustion she wakes up groggy and disoriented and thinks that someone has drugged her.

These are just a few of your scenarios.

Thanks

Judy Filarecki from SW Arizona and Northern New York on January 06, 2015:

Wonderful hub. If I'm not humming, I'm singing, especially when driving. It is comforting and does bring back good memories of going on long trips with my parents before there were radios in our cars. My parents always sang together in harmony and we would sit in the back thoroughly enjoying the peaceful of it. I learned a lot of old songs that way which came in handy when I started singing with the Sweet Adelines years later. Shared.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 30, 2014:

Thanks, Lori. Hope you hear more pleasant hummers during the New Year, and keep singing or humming for your own pleasure!

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on December 30, 2014:

I prefer singing and do it all the time. I don't mind people humming as long as it's a real tune. I have a few people in my life who hum all the time or frequently and there is no real song and the tune they are humming is lacking in real pleasantness. I think when people are doing chores around the house or on their way to get something quickly is when I hear them most. Then you've got your phone rep hummers. Annoying.

All that said, I love to hear someone humming a song. I think it's probably very soothing. This was a very interesting take on humming. Your topics never cease to surprise and delight me.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 29, 2014:

Welcome back, Lady E. Keep humming and keep writing. Season's greetings to you, too and Happy New Year.

Elena from London, UK on December 29, 2014:

This made me smile. It's interesting to know there are different names for humming. :-) I hum every day, sometimes unaware until someone gives me that look.

Thanks for sharing. Happy Festive Season.

Ps. I love your new photo.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 27, 2014:

Teaches, our mothers set some good examples for us in this and other areas without even realizing it. Glad you enjoyed the article and keep humming.

Dianna Mendez on December 26, 2014:

Ms. Dora, my mother used to hum while working around the home. I sometimes do it and benefit from the relaxing mood it sets for cleaning those difficult chores. This was a very interesting post and very enjoyable.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 20, 2014:

Pastor Bill, you make me smile. Humming beside those teenagers is the best option, I think. Thanks for your kind encouragement.

William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on December 20, 2014:

Well MsDora, in my search to see what hubs I haven't been notified of I came across this one. Your topics are unique. I would have never thought about this except that you bring it to my attention. I have a habit of humming while I drive. Maybe that helps to keep me calm when I'm side by side with a teenager, or when I get behind a car that has "Driver's Training" all over the back. Anyway, thanks again for more of your interesting information.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 20, 2014:

DDE, thanks for following and always making kind comments.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 20, 2014:

Nell, thanks for that information. You affirm my findings and you encourage me.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 20, 2014:

Denis, thanks for sharing about your son. Glad his humming makes you happy. Go ahead and start whenever you're ready--no practice necessary.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 20, 2014:

Bravewarrior, thank you for your very factual comment. Some of this truth I am now recognizing. Thanks for your input.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 20, 2014:

A great hub. I like the way you shared with a lovely photo and showed me the true meaning of such lives. Humming applies a great feeling.

Nell Rose from England on December 19, 2014:

Hi MsDora, what a wonderful hub! yes my mum used to hum, it made me smile to hear her! funnily enough I remember reading a few years ago that when people hum its good for them on a vibrational level similar to how and why a cat purrs! when a cat purrs it helps to calm them which explains why sometimes they purr when they are in pain or frightened, humming is a similar thing! It really reminded me when I read this! wonderful!

Denise W Anderson from Bismarck, North Dakota on December 19, 2014:

What an interesting thing, humming because we feel good. My one and only son is like this, he hums when he feels good. Since I know this about him, it brings tears to my eyes when I notice him doing it because I know that it is an outward sign that he is happy and contented. It is good to know that humming is a self-calming mechanism for the elderly. It won't be long and I'll be part of that crowd! I should start practicing!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 19, 2014:

Dora, this is so interesting. Humming is something we all do. I can see how humming can be a calming factor for the elderly. Shoot, it's a calming factor for all of us. Often, we don't even realize we're doing it. Music really is a wonderful panacea.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 19, 2014:

Rachel, what you did for your patients, as if your comment about it, is really inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Your disability in no way affects your compassion and your ability to reach out and fill needs. You showed us another great use of the hum.

Rachael O'Halloran from United States on December 18, 2014:

What I am about to tell you is purely unscientific in every sense of the word. I have no idea if this has ever been studied or proven, so here goes.

Until recently I was a home health and hospice nurse. I retired a few months ago. One of my employers in California wouldn't trust me with regular alert patients, just those who were confined to bed or comatose. They needed the least amount of care and with my disability, I was less of a company liability to that type of patient. That is where I first noticed humming made a difference with a patient. I kept it up until I left California - about 5 years.

When we moved back to the East Coast to Virginia, the employer here had no such problems with my disability. So I took care of all kinds of hospice patients.

Often I would notice that "far off look" on a patient's face when seated at the window, on the porch, at the kitchen table or on the sofa "watching" television.

Back a few years ago, I never gave it a thought. I just figured they were just lost in their thoughts or memories. But I came to realize that some just needed some stimulation and if they couldn't reach out for it, then I could try to provide a wee bit.

I would put the radio on for the show tunes station, the big band music channel or the all instrumental channel at a tolerable decibel. Then, I turned it off periodically (every 30 mins or so) to see if my patient noticed.

Most of them did. I had no way of knowing unless I approached them to touch their cheek. Some (not all) were humming amidst the silence. For many, this was accompanied with rocking motion.

The reason I couldn't tell they were humming is because I am deaf. The only way I could tell was by feeling the side of their cheek/face/neck and I could feel the vibration of their voicebox.

When I noticed this was what they were doing, I got in the habit of humming for alert and comatose patients all the time - while I performed some of my less invasive duties like straightening beds, preparing a meal or setting up medications, washing up after a meal, getting them ready for bed or when I had a comatose patient.

I would hum just so the only noise wasn't the life support machines in the room. Did it make a difference? I don't know for sure, but the heart rate of some of my comatose patients did change. And for my more alert patients, if I saw them mouth the words "I remember that song" then that was a enough for me to know it was ok.

Thanks for writing this article. It was great!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Manatita, I was not aware how beneficial humming was. My mother's hum started my research, and I'm glad it did. You, keep on enjoying the good mood hum; do not let your workers have reason to label it a nuisance hum (smile). I'll hum too, when I remember. Thanks for your participation.

manatita44 from london on December 18, 2014:

Well Dee,

It is a great form of solace. More importantly, it is truly music, and as you know, music is the language of the Soul.

Happy to hear that your mother hums. I do this a lot. I sing really, but at work I have to use my wisdom, so I hum and, like your mom, sometimes I don't know I'm doing it. Still, it is truly a positive thing. God bless the Spirit of your mom and more hums please! ...tidings.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Angela, you are very kind. Thanks for a very encouraging comment.

Angela Joseph from Florida on December 18, 2014:

We can always count on you for an interesting and well-written hub, and this one is no exception. I never thought of the benefits of humming before, but I know that music in whatever form has an enormous impact on our brains and our moods. I'm glad your mom still hums and you have the love and compassion to enjoy listening to her. Great hub!

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Yes, Mary. Start humming and enjoy the memories of your mother. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Peachpurple, your dad wouldn't hear, but you will; so will the other family members. Want to give it a try and see what happens?

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Dolores, enjoy the good mood hum. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Mts1098, thanks for your very kind comment. I appreciate you and please keep humming.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Blossom, you a skill I would like to have also. Keep whistling and enjoy your neighbor's hum. Thanks for sharing.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Ologsinquito, I agree with your observation. I never want to have regrets because I did not appreciate something I should have. Thanks for your input.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Shanmarie, glad the article interests you and thanks for the lead on the music link. I appreciate you.

Dora Weithers (author) from The Caribbean on December 18, 2014:

Faith, so glad you have sweet memories of your mother. Mine is humming as I write. If we love them, it is easy to love their humming.

Mary Hyatt from Florida on December 18, 2014:

I remember hearing my Mother hum as she ironed or hoed in her garden. I can still hear her in my memory bank. She didn't have dementia, she was just happy, I think.

I haven't thought of humming in ages; maybe now I'll hum!

peachy from Home Sweet Home on December 18, 2014:

my family never hums. If we did, others will say you are crazy. After all, my dad is deaf. He can't hear himself humming

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on December 18, 2014:

Hi, MsDora - such an interesting hub! I followed one of your links to read that humming helps with insomnia and has been shown to lower blood pressure. So cool! When cleaning I am going to hum today, a tune, not random, not there yet. (voted up and shared)

mts1098 on December 18, 2014:

MsDora - as usual you bring to light an everyday habit with a unique perspective - that is one of the things I enjoy about your writing - by the way, I very often sing in the car to/from work so go ahead and hum away :)

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on December 17, 2014:

That was so interesting and helps to explain why one of my elderly neighbours hums frequently. Actually, when I walk my dog I often whistle quietly to myself, especially hymns and choruses as I enjoy the flowers in people's gardens I pass.

ologsinquito from USA on December 17, 2014:

You have a really good attitude about humming and the elderly. I'm sure many people who've lost elderly parents would love to hear those "annoying" hums again.