Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rockers to the End. Alzheimers and Music

Researchers and clinicians are finding that when all other means of communication have shut down, people remember and respond to music. People with Alzheimer's disease who can't recall their children's names, can often sing word for word songs from their distant pass. Music seems to access something and cause an array of emotions from calming, happiness, even melancholy.

This New York Times article tells the story of a man who danced with his wife for thirty minutes Frank Sinatra's Time after Time was played. "His wife broke down and sobbed. She hand't been held by him in three years.

Music memory is preserved than verbal memory, because it is not seated in a specific area of the brain. As long as there is funtioning in the brain, it will process music.

The best music is what was popular when the patient was a teen. Those songs are often associated with powerful life events, like falling in love, graduating from school, etc. Young caregivers to the boomer generation will be lucky enough to work to the sounds of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, and yes my favs, the Bee Gees.

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