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    The Positive Impact Show Tunes Have On Alzheimer’s Patients

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    We already know how much listening to music can benefit Alzheimer’s patients thanks to the documentary “Alive Inside.” Now, new research shows that singing show tunes can boost brain function for a disease that is cruelly known for mental deterioration.

     

    In a study led by George Mason University in Virginia, a group of patients living in care facilities were exposed to a singing program for four months, belting out tunes from “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Sound of Music” and “Pinocchio.” After the end of the evaluation period, the patients scored higher on cognitive and drawing tests than those who had just listened to music. The singing group also reported a higher satisfaction of life.

     

    “The message is: don’t give up on these people. You need to be doing things that engage them, and singing is cheap, easy and engaging,” neuroscientist Jane Flinn who led the study told The Guardian.

     

    Why show tunes?

     

    Well, researchers did not find a link to the specific benefits of singing musicals over any other genre of music. Still, these songs – most of which were performed decades ago – might be easier for Alzheimer patients to perform. They are most likely to remember the words to these songs and revive memories of their life, Flinn said.

     

    This is also further proof of the benefits of music for those who play and sing. Remember, just listening to music is not enough.

     

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    Alive Inside – A Documentary on Music Therapy

    We came across a documentary on Netflix that had us both in tears and full of joy about the power of music.

    The documentary, “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory,” documents a music therapy program that assists elderly people living with dementia in nursing homes. In the beginning, you see the patients who are lethargic, lacking in emotion and sometimes completely unresponsive. Then, their caregiver gives them an iPod filled with their favorite sounds from their younger days and a transformation occurs that seems almost magical.

    Their eyes light up, they sing, they move to the beat. When one resident hears her favorite Latin song, she pushes aside her walker and starts dancing. Another wheelchair-bound man moved his legs fervently upon hearing “Oh Johnny” by the Andrews Sisters. A woman who spends her days and nights in bed with her eyes closed begins moving her entire body once headphones are placed over her ears.

    It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

    “The parts of the brain which are involved in remembering music and responding to music are not affected too much in Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias,” says neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks in the documentary. He also has published his own research on music called Musicophilia.

    The key is to give patients music that they like and reminds them of their youth. Given that most have lost their memory, caregivers do a lot of research to find music that will have a strong connection for their patients.

    According to the documentary, there are 5 million people in America living with dementia. And the music therapy program the documentary highlights, Music & Memory, is trying to reach nursing homes throughout the country.

    “What we’re spending on drugs that mostly don’t work dwarfs what it would take to deliver personal music to every nursing home resident in America,” says gerontologist Dr. Bill Thomas.

    If you’re looking for ways to give this holiday season, Music & Memory is accepting donations and your used iPod shuffles.

    The Music Junction offers piano and voice lessons at our Burbank and Hollywood locations. Call us today to learn more.

    See Our Rates Contact Us

    Are you ready to sign up for lessons? See Our Rates. | Questions? Contact us.

     

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