by Jamie E. Gilliam, MTI
Each year on June 21, the Alzheimer’s Association hosts "The Longest Day," an event which encourages participants to raise money for Alzheimer’s dementia research by joining in activities they enjoy. Alzheimer’s disease affects 1 in 10 people over the age of 65, and two-thirds of people with Alzheimer’s are women. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States, and is the only cause of death in the top ten that cannot be prevented, treated, or cured. (1)
While researchers and scientists work on finding ways to treat and eventually cure Alzheimer’s, people and families affected by the disease must find ways to cope with the cognitive and behavioral symptoms. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that starts with mild memory loss and eventually leads to the loss of the ability to respond to the environment; some people with the disease experience mood and personality changes. (2)
Music therapy has been shown to be effective in patients with Alzheimer’s disease through music’s unique effect on neural networks. Research has shown that listening to and participating in live music-making experiences aid patients with Alzheimer’s in memory recall (3), increased positive mood states (4), pain and anxiety management (4), orientation to time and place (5), and increased social interaction (6). Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease can use music to assist in activities of daily living, use patient preferred music associated with good memories to aid in autobiographical recall, and use soothing music in the evening to ease the sundowning phenomenon.
To find out more about how music therapy can help with Alzheimer’s, or to learn how you can use music in the care of your loved one, comment below or contact Atlantic Music Therapy, LLC.
(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). US Death Rates from Alzheimer’s Disease Increased 55 Percent from 1999 to 2014. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0525-alzheimer-deaths.html
(2) Healthy Brain Initiative: Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm
(3) Simmons-Stern, N. R., Budson, A. E., & Ally, B. A. (2010). Music as a Memory Enhancer in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Neuropsychologia, 48(10), 3164–3167. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.04.033
(4) Raglio, A., Attardo, L., Gontero, G., Rollino, S., Groppo, E., & Granieri, E. (2015). Effects of music and music therapy on mood in neurological patients. World Journal of Psychiatry, 5(1), 68–78. http://doi.org/10.5498/wjp.v5.i1.68
(5) Fang, R., Ye, S., Huangfu, J., & Calimug, D. (2017). Music therapy is a potential intervention for cognition of Alzheimer’s Disease: A mini-review. Translational Neurodegeneration, 6(2). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40035-017-0073-9
(6) Clair, A.A., (1996). The Effect of Singing on Alert Responses in Persons with Late Stage Dementia, Journal of Music Therapy, 33(4), 234–247. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/33.4.234
Allison G. Hingley, MM, MT-BC
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