Familiar Songs from Their Pasts may Help Alzheimer???s Patients

Using an MRI machine and iPods loaded with handpicked songs, University of Utah researchers are tracking the brain activity of four individuals. The research team is hoping to find evidence that these customized playlists will activate parts of patients??? brain previously damaged by Alzheimer???s disease. ???That would be a wonderful and important result, if we can show it,??? says Norm Foster, director of the Center for Alzheimer???s Care, Imaging, and Research.?????? Although the University???s findings won???t be public until summer, you don???t have to wait for the results to discover if music can help improve you or your care receiver???s quality of life. Listening to music is inexpensive with no side effects. Music can help shift moods, manage stress-induced agitation, encourage positive interactions, facilitate cognitive function and help coordinate motor movements in people with Alzheimer???s. It may help individuals fight the loneliness, depression, and anxiety that may accompany fading memory, and can provide an opportunity for them to connect with their caregivers.

Participants in the University study selected songs with personal meaning ??? music from specific moments of time in their lives, or songs they may have heard as a child or teenager. Foster emphasizes the importance of custom selections saying, ???Listening to an orchestra does not jog memory or stir emotions in the same way as hearing the ditty that Mom or Dad used to hum around the house.??? Many people associate music with important events and a variety of emotions. The connection can sometimes be so strong that hearing a song can evoke a memory related to it.

Although Foster recommends known music for memory, unfamiliar music can also be beneficial because it doesn???t have a memory connection. These songs can be used to help relax or reduce stress. Music with percussion and a fast tempo can encourage movement, while music with a slow tempo may be used to encourage sleep.?? A person???s ability to interact with music including moving to the beat and singing remains intact even in the later stages of Alzheimer???s. Although music is far from a cure, it can still be used to cope. For more information see the following article: http://www.sltrib.com/news/3345071-155/songs-from-the-past-might-make Or visit https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-music-art-therapy.asp#music

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The Alzheimer's Association Chapters all across Texas (www.alz.org) consists of families, caregivers, scientists, health professionals, and concerned citizens who are committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and to easing the burden of Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders on patients and their families and loved ones.